Ditch the Digital Duck Tape – Consider All Options with Hyper-Converged

Tom Corrigan, sales director, Avnet Technology Solutions, UK, explains why the channel is perfectly positioned to take advantage of new modular hyper-converged systems and why there is no time to lose.

The channel is buzzing with terms such as the software-defined data centre, converged systems, hybrid cloud and more recently, hyper-converged infrastructure.  But what does it all mean and what is the difference between converged and hyper-converged systems?  Most importantly, how can the UK channel develop strategies that drive profitable growth from this technology sector?

Analyst predictions are suggesting >150% market growth over 2015 and beyond and this dramatic growth has seen a large number of technology start-ups delivering very capable solutions focussed in this area. Equally as exciting is the breadth of emerging technologies being launched from the established vendors who have strategic relationships with Avnet both in the UK and across the region.

Alongside this vendor push we are seeing significant volumes of requests from business partners and their end-user communities around the delivery of integrated platforms to manage new application deployments rather than the provision of disparate compute, network and storage systems in legacy fashion. In line with this change in demand, reference architectures and converged systems have emerged as pre-defined combinations of server, storage and network solutions to help simplify platform design for what are often fairly complex workload requirements.

Hyper-converged infrastructure takes this to the next level and offers a fully integrated platform across compute, network, storage and hypervisors that are designed, configured and delivered as a single appliance. This modular design means they are quick to design, simpler to deploy and can be scaled out by adding more appliances as required.

So what does all this mean to business partners looking to broaden their capabilities beyond selling compute systems, storage arrays and perhaps introducing a hypervisor for virtualisaton? With potentially simplified technology for end-users, in terms of design and deployment, now is the time for partners to expand their skills to include the application stack and delivery of margin-rich services to support a hyper-converged infrastructure. By taking this approach, opportunities will open up around private cloud and application consulting in addition to application deployment, which is where the best margin opportunities reside for the channel community.

However, the first step to hyper-converged is to carefully choose which vendors to partner with.  Which eco-systems offer the most benefits? While hyper-converged is an emerging technology it has already been validated by many established vendors. The building blocks of most hyper-converged platforms may not yet be one size fits all, but certainly one size fits many.

Within our global markets Avnet is are seeing this change and we feel that now is the time to look beyond the digital duct tape that holds disparate hardware and software stacks together and consider a more consolidated approach to delivering applications and related services.

How can Avnet help? Well for starters, the strategic partnerships we hold globally, regionally and locally are with the leading technology providers and this gives us a huge head start as we can access the technology stack that best fits the customer requirements. To supplement this we have a dedicated in-house technical and sales team focused only on converged platforms. We also have immense capability to build these systems to order and at a scale across EMEA from our Tongeren facility, which is certified to the highest levels as required by our supplier partners.

Bringing new technologies to market and enabling the channel to capitalise on this clear market opportunity is hugely important as Avnet continues on its journey to transform technology into business solutions for customers around the world.

Posted under IT infrastructure

Channel Opportunity: Converged Systems

Converged Systems IT storage specialist

Wayne Gratton, EMEA SolutionsPath business development director

Today’s businesses are constantly changing and developing at a rapid pace that’s pushing IT departments and data centres to deliver applications that are fast, scalable and interoperable in a shorter time scale. Because of this, customers are now contemplating how to deliver improved OPEX in their data centres and are increasingly searching for ways to move towards the ‘private cloud.’ This could be driven by what customers are seeing in the public cloud – with instant provisioning of IT services – and expecting the same in their own dedicated data centres.

Changing workloads, such as Desktop Virtualisation, Business Analytics, ERP systems or even new application services, mean that companies are considering ways of centralising and consolidating their IT systems to meet demand, streamline company information and improve cost efficiency.

The question is: how can companies organise these pools of resources quickly enough to be able to implement repeatable, secure, manageable and cohesive applications? The answer… Converged systems.

It seems to me that converged systems are becoming more and more appealing to vendors to address this challenge. We’re certainly seeing an increase in interest from customers and partners who want to find out more about these solution opportunities and what they can offer the channel.

IDC’s 2012 European Storage Survey highlights the rapid rate at which converged systems are being adopted in European organisations. This year alone, more than a third of the surveyed organisations reported deploying some type of converged infrastructure. According to IDC, this interest in converged systems is the result of the rise in private cloud deployments – 20 percent cited they have implemented private clouds in 2012, compared with only six percent in the previous European storage survey, conducted in 2011.

Because of the increasing demand for this type of IT management process, many vendors, like HP, Cisco, Oracle and IBM, are now offering these solutions. However, it is also true that some vendors and resellers are still unaware of the market opportunity.

In this case, it’s essential to understand what converged systems are, what this technology can do and what exactly the benefits are.

So, with that being said, what is a converged system?

  • A converged system can be defined as a ‘pre-integrated, vendor-certified system’
  • The combination of storage and computing into a single entity is known as converged storage
  • It can contain: servers, data storage devices, networking equipment, middleware and application software in addition to software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration
  • An operating system and virtualisation can also be part of a converged solution
  • It’s also worth noting IT vendors and industry analysts use various terms to describe the concept of a converged infrastructure. These include: ‘converged system,’ ‘unified computing,’ ‘fabric-based computing,’ and ‘dynamic infrastructure’

Why use converged systems?

  • Converged systems are a step up compared to reference architectures, as they are typically sold as pre-integrated solutions, even a SKU – a number or code used to identify each unique product to enable inventory to be tracked
  • They create a group of virtualised servers, storage and networking capacity that is shared by multiple applications and lines of business, making it more streamlined and more manageable
  • Converged infrastructure provides technical and business efficiencies, stemming from the pre-integration of technology components, the pooling of IT resources and the automation of IT processes

Converged systems address the key challenges of managing evolving workloads and copious amounts of data. I would highlight the key customer benefits as:

  • Ease and speed of deployment
  • Lower operating expenses
  • Improved security
  • Higher utilisation
  • Ease of management
  • Improved application performance and application availability

One thing’s for sure, these systems simplify the use and optimisation of application environments by integrating hardware, software and services into turnkey solutions. It can be noted that this converged approach allows resellers’ and partners’ customers to quickly get to grips with the full potential of virtualisation, cloud and next-generation applications, such as real-time analytics. In addition, it also helps to speed up the consolidation of legacy applications, data and infrastructure – quite simply to drive business growth and promote cost efficiency.

Posted under Cloud Computing, Virtualisation