Building a converged infrastructure doesn’t mean tying yourself to a single provider. Convergence really means creating an abstracted pool of compute, capacity & networking with simplified/unified management, an ability to handle workload mobility, and the rapid provisioning of apps and resources. While all convergence providers offer their own data center solutions, the best collaborations offer the increased flexibility of leveraging existing infrastructures and investments.
A “one size fits all” solution isn’t practical for many companies. Reasons range from cost-effectiveness and future expansion possibilities, or specific application requirements. Pre-integrated solutions offer speed, ease of deployment and standardization, but many organizations may find the initial cost and rigidity to be prohibitive. Companies of any size and scale should enjoy the benefits of convergence – it shouldn’t require you to over-engineer to achieve simplicity. That defeats the purpose.
A flexible and modular configuration allows you to augment existing infrastructure, build for today and scale in the future. You should be able to use reference architectures, either on your own or with help from a consulting service, to expand and integrate to create the right platform for your applications and IT services. You can take a DIY approach, or seek middle ground and leverage a degree of flexibility in some converged solutions, like Dell’s Active Infrastructure solutions. Active System Compatibility Matrix provides assistance with specifying your needs; you simply pick the main components, and you get a great deal of choice.
Here are the essential components for any converged infrastructure – and best-of-breed systems are built to work with these tools regardless of provider.
Convergence Step 1: Virtualization
You’ll need a virtualization platform to start. Virtualization is essential for rapid deployment of applications and virtual server resources. It is the building block to private cloud & workload mobility. VMware Vsphere, and Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V are the lead dogs, and both have benefits. Many customers also leverage a dual/multi-hypervisor strategy (to include Citrix as well). Dell convergence solutions support a multiple hypervisor strategy, and it’s important to have that choice when you pick an infrastructure platform.
Depending on your preference, computing needs, and internal standards, you can opt for extreme density & flexibility with M1000e blade chassis (which incidentally has ¼, ½, or full height blade server options), or go for a rack-mount server config.
Convergence Step 2: Networking and Storage
For communication, depending upon the physical aspects of your network, your budget, and server/storage choices – you can choose from many IO options in the blade chassis networking, top-of-rack switches, or add storage switches.
For data storage needs, depending on your space and performance requirements, look for arrays which employ the iSCSI architecture or fibre channel technology.
A third and most critical element of a converged solution is management. Management tools must be flexible, and they should integrate well with whatever systems mgmt framework you’re already using.
For example, the converged infrastructure solution should allow for integration into the hypervisor console so you can do and see more from your Vmware Vcenter console or MS SCVMM (System Center Virtual Machine Manager). Your solution should also integrate with overarching systems mgmt frameworks that may be in use, such as MS System Center, BMC, CA, Tivoli, etc. Systems Management really serves as the “neural net” of your business/organization, and it’s essential that your IT infrastructure and application mgmt be able to integrate – especially if you’ve got an enterprise deployment that unifies monitoring and alerting, reporting, change management, etc.
In the case of the Dell Converged solutions, you can integrate into hypervisor consoles using the OpenManage integrations for Vmware or MS System Center, or use the Active System Manager. Active System Manager acts as a bridge between the infrastructure resources and the application delivery. It automates workload deployment and end-to-end converged infrastructure management. It also helps improve employee productivity by streamlining enterprise resources efficiently and increasing accuracy. This aspect allows critical IT team members to focus their talents on new projects.
Is there anything else you’d include in this essential components list? Let us know in the comments.Tags: Technology,Virtualization