Why hyperconvergence will put ‘dumb pipes’ to shame

An industry analyst says the movement towards all-IP environments could mean much more than IT departments think. How to start planning for the transition

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The pros and cons of the hyperconverged network — where basically all services are delivered via IP — are still up for debate. But with the rise of mobility, virtualization, unified communications and the cloud, a perfect data storm is a brewin’ in the IT infrastructure and architecture of many an organization.

One thing’s for sure — the issue should be seen as being bigger than the network, according to one industry analyst.

The trend of hyperconvergence is obviously borne out of the disparate and heterogeneous nature of many IT environments, notes Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group. It’s a situation where growing structured and unstructured data loads threaten to overwhelm already busy enterprise networks.

Fundamentally, Taneja notes, hyperconvergence should be viewed as doing more with less: the explosion of unstructured data, servers and virtualized applications — on an integrated stack — translates into a new way of thinking around optimizing the network.

“In the grand scheme of things, it is still in the early stage as many organizations have heard the term but still don’t know what it means,” says Taneja. But it’s obviously not about the “dumb pipe” anymore.

It’s a world where doing things the traditional way just might not cut it for IT decision makers. A marked increase in data traffic — think of mobile device use, unified communication and collaboration, growth of video data streams — represents a key opportunity for organizations, particularly around storage, networks and data protection.

“This is more than a networking play. This is the first thing to realize. More than just a network administrator’s benefit,” he says. That said, it’s not about a rip and replace type of paradigm; it’s not about disrupting an already functioning environment, he adds. IT decision makers now need to think about a more nuanced approach around architecture, policy management and traditional server and network silos.

Indeed, reduced costs around computing power and storage should translate into organizations thinking more about the benefits of virtualization, he offers. The notion of a traditional SAN is almost rendered moot when thinking about storage virtualization, and organizations should continue along the path of virtualized applications and virtualization technologies such as VDI, he says. “It’s a new world designed for applications to be running in a virtual environment…. it’s the optimum time to jump into the fray (and) making a full thrust into the virtual world.”

Whether organizations are ready or not, Taneja predicts that 2014 will be the year of hyperconvergence. It’s about being proactive in strategically thinking how the network interface is designed moving forward; so in 2013, think about evaluating and testing and developing early proof of concepts, he adds.

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