Are you considering a hyper-converged infrastructure? Here are some tips on how to deploy one:
The way we do business is changing at a fast pace and technology is at the heart of these changes. With businesses needing to be more responsive and more adaptable to market needs, there is a great pressure on IT departments to step up their game and take a more proactive role within the organisation.
Companies need the ability to handle large amounts of data and many applications at the same time. Infrastructures should be easy to set up and help companies make data-driven decisions, while keeping IT costs low.
Unfortunately, traditional infrastructures can’t really keep up with these trends anymore. Fortunately, this is where hyper-converged infrastructures come in.
In this article, you can find four steps to follow in order to choose the best hyper-converged infrastructures for your needs and deploy quickly and efficiently:
- Measure and define your workload
- Choose the right infrastructure
- Planning, deploying and testing
- Sit back and enjoy
What is a hyper-converged infrastructure?
Before diving into the deployment steps, let’s look at what a hyper-converged infrastructure is. A hyper-converged infrastructure combines computing, networking and storage in a single software-defined unit, that is cost-effective and easy to manage. This makes this type of infrastructure perfect for all kinds of businesses, SMBs in particular.
What are the benefits of using a hyper-converged infrastructure?
Hyper-convergence did not exist a few years back, but as it helps cover major business needs, it has gained popularity very fast. According to a Gartner study, the hyper-converged market is expected to grow from 0 in 2012 to a $5 billion market by 2019.
Here are some of the benefits hyper-convergence has to offer:
- A software-defined datacenter: As hyper-converged infrastructures are software-driven, you get the advantages of a software-defined datacentre: flexibility in meeting business needs and the possibility of getting software updates promptly, without having to replace hardware components.
- A VM-centric approach: a hyper-converged environment revolves around VMs, as do all the management options available in the system, like data protection and control.
- Data protection: Protecting data is critical for every business. Hyperconvergence offers an affordable and efficient disaster recovery solution. For example, with a Syneto hyper-converged infrastructure, it takes less than 5 minutes to restore and less than 1 second to clone a VM.
- Cost reduction: with a hyper-converged infrastructure, you get up to 2x cost reduction per VM compared to traditional infrastructures or public clouds.
- Centralised management: as all components are combined in a single infrastructure, IT can manage resources from a single centralised interface.
4 steps to follow when deploying a hyper-converged infrastructure
Hyper-convergence works differently than traditional infrastructures, but that does not mean it’s more difficult to deploy. On the contrary.
At this point, there are no universal procedures for deploying a hyper-converged infrastructure, as the process may vary according to the machines used. However, there are some guidelines you can follow.
Here are some steps to follow if you’re choosing a new hyper-converged infrastructure, as well as some tips we have gathered from our experience deploying hyper-converged systems:
Step 1: Measure and define your workload
Before choosing a new infrastructure, you should evaluate your business and IT needs.
- How many apps are you running?
- What are your computing and capacity requirements?
- What RAM capacity do you need?
- How about network connections?
By answering these questions and therefore evaluating your IT requirements, you can sketch out a list of criteria for choosing the right infrastructure.
Which leads us to step 2:
Step 2: Choose the right infrastructure
Now that you have established how many resources you need, you can choose the right kind of infrastructure. When doing so, you should look into:
- Your workload requirements: Your evaluation of your needs should help you choose the dimension of your new infrastructure. However, you should make sure you don’t overprovision. There’s no need in paying extra for resources you’ll never use, is there?
- Your growth rate: Is your company growing at a fast rate and can this affect your IT requirements? Do you expect any changes regarding your IT needs (computing, capacity etc.) in the near and not-so-near future? If the answer is yes, make sure you take change into consideration. Moreover, investigate the scaling opportunities for your new infrastructure. This will help you calculate how much time and money scaling your infrastructure would cost you.
- Other requirements: Does your business require disaster recovery capabilities? If so, the good news is that some hyper-converged solutions, like those provided by Syneto, come with disaster recovery capabilities.
Is business continuity critical for your business? You can choose a high-availability cluster if that is the case. Keep in mind that, unless each minute of downtime is costing your business a lot of money, a simple HC infrastructure with DR capabilities might be sufficient.
Before making a decision, consider what RTO and RPO you need. For example, with a Syneto DR solution, you achieve an RTO of under 30 minute and a RPO of 1 minute.
Step 3: Planning for, deploying and testing a hyper-converged infrastructure
Now that you have found the best infrastructure for your business, you can start planning, deploying and testing your new infrastructure:
Planning: Since a hyper-converged system works differently than a traditional one, it is important that your IT department is aligned with the change. For example, as the new infrastructure will contain both networking and storage, you should make sure responsibilities within the team don’t overlap.
For a successful deployment, set up a configuration plan and checklist. Define the steps you must take to deploy your new infrastructure and tick each step off the list along the process.
When doing this, keep in mind that in this kind of infrastructure VMs, hardware and management will be integrated!
Deployment: As we’re already mention, deploying a hyper-converged solution is a pretty straight-forward process. As in this kind of infrastructure all components are integrated, you must only do a one-time configuration of the whole system.
Perhaps most challenging aspect of deploying a new system is the migration of VMs. If you’re operating with the same hypervisor on the new infrastructure, the process is however pretty simple.
With VMware, you can either stop the the VMs, suspend them or, if you can’t afford the downtime, you can perform a “live” migration with VMWare’s vMotion tool.
If you are changing the hypervisor along with the new infrastructure, you will have to use a tool provided by your new hypervisor, that will convert your VMs for your new environment.
Testing: Planning and implementation are of course the first steps in every process. Evaluation is next. Just to make sure the deployment has gone well, make sure you test out the functionality of your system. Does your system come with disaster recovery feature? Then you should set up a disaster recovery plan and test it.
Make sure the virtualised applications are running properly before you give your team the “go ahead” to use the resources in your infrastructure.
Step 4: Sit back and enjoy your new hyper-converged solution, with all the benefits it brings!
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