HCI and SDx – the evolution of business and the data centre

Storage and networking vendors see software defined everything (SDx) as the next evolution of linking the business to the data centre. Today, it is less about the hardware and more on how it can be ‘cloudified’ to unlock more opportunities.

Of course, hardware is not going away. Vendors still need to put equipment down, but their focus is more geared towards the implementation of additional software and cloud layers. These facilitate a licensing model and expand capabilities beyond what pure hardware can do. Virtualisation is now something that is done as a matter of course. It is everything that is done on top of that where most of the exciting things are happening in the data centre environment.

The influx of cloud providers has seen many trigger-happy companies lifting and shifting to the public cloud. However, the hybrid cloud is clawing its way back where the most critical data is kept close to the organisation with everything else migrating to a public cloud environment.


Hyper-converged infrastructure platform

This has seen Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) become more commonplace. Scaling using HCI is more cost-effective and efficient than the traditional three-tier environment. Expanding in this new dynamic way is as easy as plugging in a new node and letting the system automatically allocate the resources where they are most needed.

So much of the HCI environment is automated and numerous tools are readily available to get things up and running as quickly as possible. And being driven by software makes it perfect for a world that is going to revolve around SDx before too long.


Security measures

But despite the migration to a software-driven data centre environment, decision-makers must be mindful of ensuring security remains embedded into every aspect of the business. This should not only include the data centre, storage, and networking, but also training staff to ensure they understand phishing and social engineering attacks, and ensuring the business is compliant within the requirements of its industry sector.

So, from a data centre perspective, HCI and SDx do not change the fact that security must still be a layered approach. This sees questions needing to be asked of vendors and managed services providers and whether they are compliant to the minimum specifications of the organisation. It comes down to basic cyber security prudence that the tools made available through HCI and SDx are used to their maximum potential.

Just because a business is in an HCI environment, does not mean management can assume it is completely safe. On the contrary, there is more software that can now be exploited as opposed to varying hardware devices that need to be individually exploited. Prudence in this area is key.  A company can only protect what it knows about, so the network must be continually monitored especially as more data access points become available.


A new world

The market is putting the emphasis on SDx. In a tiered infrastructure, the entire idea of performance as it relates to storage is a big thing. Traditionally, this meant certain applications had to reside in specific tiers of storage according to their performance requirements. Now with SDx, movement between these tiers is no longer cumbersome. .

It is not something that should be managed as it just happens automatically thanks to how it has been defined. The ability to migrate workloads between different performing disks is fast becoming an antiquated concept. Most workloads today are already on fast storage that will only become even faster.

The reliance on software and its flexibility to optimise the link between the data centre and the organisation will only increase in the coming months. How organisations adapt to this market will only become more important in the push towards HCI and SDx.

Joshua Grunewald, Cloud Hosting Manager at Saicom


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