The pressures on internal IT teams have never been greater. They’re expected to accelerate the adoption of business-enabling digital technologies that allow organizations to sharpen their competitive edge. And, in a climate where budgets remain stretched, they need to find new ways to optimize business processes to streamline operations and eliminate costs.
However, all too often, their efforts are hindered by legacy data center environments that comprise siloed and fragmented IT systems and platforms that don’t interoperate. Applications and the data they carry move between and among a blend of on-premise data centers and public or private clouds. And with remote working now becoming firmly entrenched as a norm, users and their devices are increasingly geographically distributed. This makes it difficult to gain a clear line of sight into end-to-end business operations. What’s more, this arrangement can open the door to security risks.
For these reasons, increasing numbers of IT leaders are rethinking their approach to digital infrastructure.
Many are exploring hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) as an alternative to complex traditional solutions.
In this article, we’ll explore what HCI is, the advantages it offers, and share some thoughts on how to build a solid business case to support a move to this approach – including TCO and ROI considerations.
HCI Basics: How it Works and How You Can Benefit
HCI turns the traditional, siloed data center model on its head by unifying servers and storage into a distributed infrastructure platform and using intelligent software to create flexible building blocks that replace legacy infrastructure.
With HCI, the tasks of procuring, deploying, managing, and scaling infrastructure are greatly simplified.
Cost reduction is one of the most commonly cited benefits of adopting HCI. Savings are realized in terms of both reduced CAPEX and OPEX expenditure.
And, in an environment where businesses often fly or fail based on their ability to access and analyze large data sets, the data efficiency offered by HCI makes it an attractive option.
HCI can also open the door to productivity, service, and support improvements. This is because it eliminates many of the bottlenecks that occur in traditional architectures. And if you enlist the help of a single HCI vendor to support your end-to-end infrastructure stack, service and support are streamlined, integration and deployment are accelerated, and incidents can be resolved more quickly.
Making the Business Case
While IT teams may need little convincing of the wisdom of adopting HCI, if you hope to get your Board “on board” and approve the initiative, you’ll need to make a strong case. It’s a good idea to broach this conversation by demonstrating how HCI compares to the infrastructure you already have in place.
Here are some suggested angles and talking points:
An HCI architecture allows you to “pay-as-you-grow” and align your expenditure more closely with your business needs.
With an HCI approach, you can say goodbye to large-scale infrastructure upgrades every three to five years, which can be costly and disruptive.
Simplified Technology Upgrade Path
As HCI strips away operational and integration complexity, it makes it easier to deploy the latest business-enabling technologies.
How Does HCI Fit into Your Cloud Strategy?
When preparing your business case for HCI, bear in mind that its role in relation to any public cloud initiatives your business has made will likely come up in the discussion. Be prepared, therefore, to address how HCI compares to public cloud to run the same workloads.
In recent years, many organizations have learned that pursuing a cloud-first strategy doesn’t necessarily deliver the anticipated performance enhancements. Building and deploying applications in public clouds also requires specialized skill sets that many businesses don’t have in-house. Additionally, many legacy enterprise applications aren’t suited to run in the cloud.
Then there’s the cost factor: It can be twice as expensive to run predictable workloads in the cloud when you factor in all the costs – including those associated with data protection and ensuring robust application performance.
For these reasons, most organizations have settled on a hybrid arrangement where they run key workloads in corporate data centers to gain the benefit of predictability and control and use public cloud for applications that have low ecosystem requirements and variable resource demands.
Properly architected, HCI solutions offer many of the same benefits that businesses seek from the public cloud. These include:
- The ability to scale on-demand
- Responsiveness to changing business requirements
- Alignment with DevOps efforts
What’s more, with HCI, you have more granular control over your workloads than you do when they’re running in the cloud. HCI is also less complex to manage – when you’re running workloads in the cloud, human error can cause unwelcome downtime or leave data exposed. And finally, HCI costs are not only more predictable, they’re also often lower than public cloud.
All this being said, bear in mind that opting to embrace HCI won’t require you to abandon your cloud strategy – instead, it allows you to refine and optimize it.
Demonstrating TCO and ROI
While these are all compelling benefits, securing executive approval for a move to HCI will inevitably include a discussion about the numbers.
Major HCI vendors offer TCO calculators that you can use to get an initial estimate of your HCI costs and compare them to what you spend on running your current environment (including hardware, software, and people costs). Additionally, tools are available that allow you to precisely model and compare an HCI solution to a public cloud setup in terms of efficiency, agility, and costs.
Likewise, demonstrating ROI on any HCI investment will require extensive technical, operational, organizational, and financial due diligence to identify and quantify its business benefits when compared to alternative architectures. This is something that Agisko and the leading vendors can assist with.
Agisko works with established HCI players, such as Nutanix, to help clients break free from legacy solutions and pursue a cohesive, cost-effective, and secure HCI strategy that streamlines data center management and operations. In addition to consulting services, we also provide comprehensive post-implementation support and managed services to many of our clients.
PS. If you want even more in-depth knowledge how to build the business case for HCI, here is a good white paper from Nutanix.
Interested in learning more? Contact us.