During the past few years, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) has become one of the fastest growing segments in IT. Along with hybrid cloud, HCI is one of the industry’s two hottest data center technologies as measured by the TechTarget Momentum Index™, which tracks first-time deployments. A separate study by MarketsandMarkets predicts nearly 44% compound annual growth for HCI between 2016 and 2022.1
Several factors are driving this momentum. For one, HCI addresses some of IT’s more pressing concerns, including lowering costs, reducing complexity, increasing performance and improving agility. In addition, HCI is a building block to the next-generation, software-defined data center, enabling future-proof architecture that is more automated and scalable than siloed legacy infrastructures.
Results of the TechTarget Research Data Center Market Landscape Study in 2016 bear this out, showing that HCI is enabling:
- Lower costs: 47% of current HCI customers and 37% of planned customers cited reduced costs as a major factor in their purchase decision.
- Higher performance: 26% of current HCI customers and 26% of planned customers cited increased performance.
- Reduced complexity: 21% of current HCI customers and 41% of planned customers cited reduced configuration/integration problems.
Fortunately for customers, the innovation that has defined HCI during the past few years is continuing apace, as evidenced by new features VMware has introduced in its latest software-defined, hyper-converged storage solution, vSAN 6.6.
VMware vSAN 6.6 adds industry-first native HCI security features, specifically software-defined and hardware-independent data-at-rest encryption. In addition, VMware provides significant improvements in two other key areas that are currently driving HCI adoption, namely, lower costs and increased performance.
The most extensive update from VMware thus far, vSAN 6.6 delivers a long list of new features and capabilities . Some of the top innovations enable customers to achieve major improvements in cost reduction, performance and security.
VMware vSAN 6.6 introduces highly available stretched clusters that are less than half the cost of traditional storage solutions. These are particularly valuable in disaster recovery and business continuity use cases, where the enhanced stretched clusters provide protection against both site failures and local component failures.
The update also includes a number of management features that lower costs and save time. These include: vSAN-specific capabilities to manage, monitor and troubleshoot; the proactive vSAN Cloud Analytics tools to decrease operational costs; and increased automation and orchestration capabilities that eliminate management tasks and help lower operational costs up to 80% for certain common tasks.
Customers can power business-critical and next-generation workloads with up to 50% higher flash performance. Optimized algorithms for key data services increase system efficiency and deliver increased consolidation ratios for traditional workloads.
In addition, vSAN 6.6 supports the latest flash technologies, such as the Intel® Optane™ NVMe SSDs, Intel’s first drives based on 3D XPoint technology. vSAN 6.6. also provides larger caching drive options, including 1.6 TB flash drives.
vSAN 6.6 offers native HCI security with the first software-defined, data-at-rest encryption solution built for HCI. Native encryption protects against unwanted access to data and simplifies key management with a single key per cluster.
With vSAN Encryption, customers can deploy the storage hardware of their choice, including deploying on existing x86 investments, while avoiding premiums of up to 40% for self-encrypting drives . vSAN’s native security also opens up HCI for customers with more stringent compliance requirements, such as two-factor authentication and Security Technology Implementation Guide (STIG).
Finally, vSAN 6.6 introduces a highly available management stack to ensure continuous visibility and control over storage in the case of vCenter management failures. In addition, new features ensure optimal data availability by minimizing the impact of hardware failures with intelligent rebuilds and new proactive health evaluation and evacuation.
Continued innovation is providing customers with HCI solutions that are more secure, less expensive and faster. With VMware vSAN 6.6, advances such as software-defined encryption and highly available stretched clusters enable companies to gain additional value from their investments in hyper-convergence. If you’re still on the fence, it’s probably time to find out what the excitement is all about.
1 “Hyper-converged Infrastructure Market Worth $12,707.4 Million USD by 2022,” Marketsandmarkets, May 2016