Before proceeding in the article further, I would like to formally define the term hyper convergence. Hyper convergence refers to an IT framework that is an integration of storage, computation and networking on a single node. It means that by using a hyper-converged architecture, you can perform storage related activities, all sorts of computations and networking related tasks all on one single node. This technology paradigm has revised the regular data center trends whose architecture was quite different from that of a hyper-converged architecture. Now the question is that how has this change of technology optimized the regular data center structure and this question will be answered below.
Working of a Hyper-Converged Architecture
In a regular data center, we have a set of switches, which are responsible for routing the traffic to the appropriate servers. Along with these switches, the servers are connected with some storage controller that are linked with storage area networks (SAN). This was a very complex and hard to manage architecture because each component of this architecture needed special attention and none of the components could be handled together since they are all completely independent.
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To solve this problem, hyper-converged architecture was introduced. In this architecture, instead of having separate and independent components, we have such nodes that combine storage, computation and networking all together. The capacity or scalability of a hyper-converged architecture can be increased up to an unimaginable extent simply by adding more nodes to the architecture. Moreover, this architecture also eliminates the need of storage area networks (SAN) since every node has its independent storage. This leads to an easier and simpler management, which can be done through a single console and all the components can be managed together.
Advantages of Hyper Convergence
Following are the most common advantages of hyper convergence:
- Ease of Management: Since all components are managed with a single console
- Ease of Scalability: Scalability can be increased just by adding more nodes
- Reduction in Maintenance Cost: Because everything is managed all together
- Simplicity and Flexibility: New nodes can be added at any instance
- Ease of Use: All the components of a node are familiar
- Resource Efficiency: Because storage area network is eliminated
Drawbacks of Hyper Convergence:
The disadvantages of a hyper-converged architecture are listed below:
- Less Hardware Reusability: Because every node requires its own hardware separately
- Reduced Level of Performance as Compared with Traditional Servers: Because size of single node is heavier as compared with the traditional servers
- Licensing Cost even for Unused Resources: It does not matter if you use a component of a node or not. You still have to pay an amount for the complete node which includes the cost of all the components
- High Power Consumption: Because all hardware components require a specific amount of power supply
StarWind HyperConverged Appliance
StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is a software based hyper-converged platform, which is used to minimize application downtime. All the hyper convergence activities are monitored and managed on one single console. This appliance provides a proactive support, which monitors your cluster 24/7 in order to look for any defects, and if any defect is found, it removes it even before things go wrong any further.
The main features of StarWind HyperConverged Appliance are listed below:
- StarWind proactive support
- Server Message Block (SMB3) support
- Network File System (NFS) support
- Storage Management Initiative Support
- Data Locality
- StarWind web based management
- Grid architecture
- Deduplication and compression
- Scale up and Scale out
- Unified storage
- StarWind VVOLS
- Fault tolerance and high availability
- Server side cache
- Commodity hardware
This appliance comes in the following three models: All flash model, hybrid model and disk model.
Although hyper convergence simplifies the traditional data center architecture to a great extent, but it still has its drawbacks. One of the major drawbacks is that a hyper-converged architecture binds you with a single vendor since all the nodes in a hyper-converged architecture need to contain absolutely same components. To resolve such compatibility issues, the manufacturers of hyper-converged networks still need to work very hard in future.