The HCI revolution: key lessons for businesses


By Paul Crighton*
Monday, 11 May, 2020

The HCI revolution: key lessons for businesses

If we’ve learned anything over the past few weeks, it’s that it has become more crucial than ever to ensure business continuity plans are in place. The playing field has shifted for all businesses as workspaces have had to rapidly move from the office to the home.

Preliminary findings from Gartner reveal that 54% of HR leaders across APAC, including Australia, indicated that the biggest challenge to effective remote working and performance lies in poor technology and/or work-from-home infrastructure.

In responding to these unprecedented circumstances, companies must understand how to maximise their cloud investment to their advantage, so that users can access application and data with any device at any time.

For most businesses, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) offers a clear path towards delivering that optimisation, extending the life of corporate infrastructure investments and improving performance without completely changing the underlying architecture.

How can business leaders best navigate these uncertain times with HCI? Here are three key lessons.

1. Forecast and accurately plan your capacity

When unexpected circumstances arise, organisations must be ready to ensure stability and continuity, and be prepared to mitigate potential performance or capacity limits. Capacity planning is crucial to architecting a HCI deployment that will provide businesses with the bandwidth they need now, as well as a buffer. HCI vendors can provide on-demand scaling capabilities to offer this flexibility by adding a new block or unit to a current rack configuration.

It is important to remember that while HCI allows businesses to scale on demand, it can’t scale by individual component need — the new block or unit will contain compute, storage and memory. Underestimating capacity needs results in needing to purchase a new block or unit when capacity is near 100%, negatively affecting bottom-line ROI.

The good news is that businesses can scale by adding a new node, although this is not a fix that can be added overnight. It is important for CIOs to understand how long it will take to request a new scaling up deployment to accurately plan for future needs.

2. Weigh up the total cost of ownership

With a rapidly changing situation, organisations are now facing a sudden large-scale increase in remote working, as well as the urgent demand to ensure data availability across clouds. To sustain operations with minimal disruption, decision-makers may look to implement cloud-based end-user computing (EUC), virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and other high-performance solutions. If these are being considered it is also critical to have the right HCI in place.

While any new HCI deployment will require investment, the cost of not having to repeatedly refresh hardware on desktop machines and laptops leads to far greater savings.

3. Take the leap when deciding to adopt modern apps

HCI brings a robust set of features to organisations looking to lower TCO, makes support and troubleshooting easier, and allows for on-demand scale of resources. Beyond that, the hyper-converged market is entering a new phase of maturity. HCI solutions are increasingly targeting mission-critical workloads, are larger in scale, and are used for business-critical applications such as ERM, CRM, supply chain management, financial management and payroll/accounting.

Additionally, the adoption of HCI effectively kills the ‘siloed teams’ approach to IT management. Each administrator will be adept at all aspects of the infrastructure, and it will all be managed from a single source of truth. This will help businesses to keep track of application performance and availability where their apps and data reside.

Ready or not, unplanned business disruptions do provide the opportunity to bolster how organisations prepare for business continuity. The advent of HCI brings incredible potential to aid and support, and it is essential to understand how to harness the technology.

However, it is important for business leaders to be aware of key considerations. By better understanding the true power of HCI, businesses can have a consistent flow of operations whilst also empowering the workforce.

*Paul Crighton is the Managing Director of NetApp ANZ.

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