“With CI, Infrastructure Is Less A Business Constraint And More A Business Enabler”

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Anshuman Rai, Director Sales, Converged Platform & Solutions Division, Dell EMC

Organizations today are faced with the challenge of modernizing their IT infrastructure but reducing their infrastructure footprint. They are looking for scalable solutions that grow as the organization grows. This is where hyper-converged infrastructure comes into play. Hyper-converged infrastructure is now being used extensively where organizations have high scale-out requirements.

Anshuman Rai, Director Sales, Converged Platform & Solutions Division, Dell EMC talks to HPC Asia about how HCI is relevant for Indian companies that are looking to move from a “build yourself” to a “buy” model.

What are the current trends in the hyper-converged infrastructure scenario?

HCI is becoming more and more mainstream. Customers are exploring HCI for critical workloads like DWH, design applications, SOC etc. So it is no longer about test and development and VDI workloads. Customers have started to appreciate the simplicity of HCI and are exploring it for all their virtual workloads. Hyper-convergence is expected to be the next logical step for organizations looking to improve their workloads and infrastructure while keeping the cost under control. Recent market studies indicate that the steady acceptance of cloud, mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) is driving the demand for HCIS. By 2019, approximately 30% of the global storage array capacity installed in enterprise data centres will be deployed on software-defined storage (SDS) or hyper-converged integrated system (HCIS) architectures.  Twenty percent of mission-critical applications currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition to HCISs by 2020.

What are the major usage of hyper-converged infrastructure today? Which areas within an enterprise can HCI help manage?

Customers across all industries can benefit from the adoption of converged systems. Organizations large and small, from all industries, who are striving to modernize their infrastructure in order to compete in today’s digital age will benefit from an integrated system and converged infrastructure environment. A hyper-converged infrastructure, in particular, helps customers in building and maintaining. Expanding their own IT infrastructure is risky, saps time and resources, and makes predictable scaling difficult. Managing the lifecycle becomes easier, which is otherwise complicated with multiple upgrades and dealing with multiple support organizations – is too hard and takes too long. Dell EMC’s VxRail offers configure-to-order flexibility to meet any use case. From an architectural standpoint, VxRail’s key performance advantage is its ability to deliver this simplicity in a distributed enterprise starts with its tight integration between VMware vSAN and the vSphere hypervisor. This is dramatically different from every other hyper-converged storage solutions that require the installation of a virtual storage appliance on each host. While, hyper-converged infrastructure is being marginally preferred for perimeter workloads, which are non-core for the business; it is also being used extensively where organizations have high scale-out requirements.

Why should an enterprise look at adopting HCI? How will adopting the HCI impact the enterprise infrastructure?

Converged Infrastructure (CI) helps enterprises to focus on delivering business results rather than spending scarce resources on maintenance and IT architecture considerations. Using CI effectively and smartly, servers, storage and networks can work together, out of a box and the resultant infrastructure can be installed, deployed, updated and managed easily. This helps to optimize corporate IT’s performance, minimize its cost, and maximize its business value. The need for CI is primarily due to the increased complexity of IT and a congruent explosion of business demands worldwide. Traditional data-centres are unable to cope with the workloads now being witnessed across enterprises particularly with the emergence of virtualization. The clear advantages for an enterprise of deploying CI are a lower total cost of operations, increase in operational performance, and enabling enterprise IT to trade commodity work for more value-adding work. With CI, infrastructure is less a business constraint and more a business enabler. What CI does is to bring together coherently the various data-centre components into a single form factor (an appliance) that can then be centrally managed. Thus, a converged infrastructure minimizes compatibility issues and simplifies the management of servers, storage systems and network devices while reducing costs for cabling, cooling, power and floor space.  There are many clear advantages of deploying CI. For one, CI enables IT to consolidate and standardize systems and deploy and scale infrastructure rapidly. It helps to increase utilization rates and lower costs and at the same time simplify infrastructure management. Business risk is reduced through improved reliability and integrated approaches to security and disaster recovery business innovation and agility are increased through faster time to market. With computing on demand, business and IT people can experiment more, prototype more, and innovate faster. Converged infrastructure can meet pragmatic objectives around cost, performance, risk, and agility. CI can also shape how your enterprise operates and innovates in a world with fewer technological constraints. CI adoption can provide the opportunity to rethink and rebuild the infrastructure services organization, with less attention to shoring up weaknesses and more attention to meeting future business needs. Since a distinct advantage of converged infrastructure is to enable rapid provisioning of new services (read apps), new networks can be created and the services can be provisioned quickly—even during an unfortunate downtime—by deploying the last good configuration protocol.

Can you talk about a use case for HCI where the enterprise has seen major benefits with your solutions?

Dell EMC VxRail successfully drove business growth for KPIT Technologies (KPIT), a global IT consulting and product engineering organization. KPIT partnered with Dell EMC to implement a range of products to modernize and innovate its data centre.  KPIT is one of the first companies in India to implement hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to simplify its IT operations. The organization began its partnership with Dell EMC in 2010, implementing the Dell EMC Vblock converged infrastructure platform for its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) running on VMware View. When KPIT wanted to extend its virtual desktops to all users, resulting in nearly double its VDI reach, the company migrated its storage solution to Dell EMC XtremIO, while the Dell EMC Vblock and Dell EMC VSPEX continued to support the company’s other mission-critical applications. In early 2016 KPIT had plans to utilize public cloud services for its new growth areas due to its requirement for cost-efficient storage that would enable it to start small and scale over time. The Dell EMC team proposed that KPIT would benefit from the extreme configuration flexibility of hyper-converged infrastructure, which can be matched precisely to meet its business requirements. As a result of discussions with Dell EMC, KPIT selected Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure appliance for its development and test environments, and backup and recovery.

Instead of purchasing additional separate appliances, KPIT now has access to Dell EMC Data Protection Suite running on the hyper-converged infrastructure to provide backup and recovery services and management and monitoring capabilities. KPIT leverages public cloud storage for low-cost data archiving, especially for smaller, new growth areas of the business. Dell EMC VxRail includes Dell EMC CloudArray to provide the company with a simple way to integrate public and private cloud storage resources.

Latest developments in HCI solutions from Dell EMC?

We have just refreshed our entire portfolio with our new generation of 14G servers. Dell EMC’s industry-leading hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) portfolio has received a substantial boost in the availability of Dell EMC HCI appliances on the newly designed, award-winning Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers. With this latest PowerEdge server platform, designed and optimized for HCI, customers of all sizes can expect even more powerful and predictable performance with even greater configurability for hosting a wide range of mission-critical software applications on Dell EMC VxRail and XC Series appliances. Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers, based on Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family, include 150 custom requirements for software-defined storage (SDS) built-in, making it uniquely optimized for HCI. This includes improved support for SSDs in scale-out deployments; faster initialization and streamlined data storage management; increased drive cooling for improved reliability; and, optional, common user interfaces across server and HCI platforms for Dell EMC systems management capabilities. The upgraded Dell EMC HCI appliance portfolio offers customers significantly faster access to applications and data thanks to higher core counts, faster clock frequency, more memory channels, and faster memory resulting in up to 1.7x more processing power and up to 62% higher internal bandwidth.

Do talk about HCI implementations in terms of Indian market scenario.

HCI is the fastest-growing part of the IT infrastructure market today as businesses of all sizes desire for substantial infrastructure simplification. In India, hyper-converged infrastructure systems are attracting the largest amount of interest in the converged systems portfolio. Its software-defined approach which abstracts the compute, storage and networking on a single plane is a key factor for the rise of interest in HCIS. HCIS’s single-vendor support model and ability to match a large number of use cases offer greater benefits and eliminates complexity. As per IDC, India would be a USD 63M market for HCI by 2020.  & the market is expected to grow at a GAGR of 43%. The converged market will be USD 180M with a modest ACGR of 9%. Dell EMC continues to be the undisputed leader in the overall converged systems market with 28.9% market share and is the fastest growing HCI vendor, more than doubling sales year-over-year for Q1 2017, according to IDC.

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