Converged Infrastructure: What Is It and Why Use It?

Converged infrastructure is a way of structuring an IT system that combines various components into a single optimized computing unit. It minimizes hardware compatibility issues while lowering the response time between the components. The components are:

Benefits of Converged Infrastructure

More than ever before, companies need a faster, reliable and scalable IT infrastructure. By leveraging a converged infrastructure, organizations can use one of the go-to frameworks for achieving an agile, high-performance and cost-efficient IT environment.

Increased agility and scalability

Converged infrastructures eliminate the need for complex and often tedious integration of individual IT components. IT admins can quickly provision new applications and respond to changes within the organization.

Enhanced performance

A converged infrastructure enables the coupling of the entire data center stack, including server, networking, storage and virtualization. Virtualization—running on turnkey, industry-standard servers— takes over the management of complicated and costly legacy hardware. By utilizing virtualization within the converged infrastructure, IT admins can start small and scale one node at a time at a superior performance and resilience.

Reduced costs

Many converged systems require disparate software solutions to manage the server, storage and networking. However, IT admins can configure and manage all the resources via a single unified interface. This can eliminate unnecessary hardware and software, potentially minimizing capital expenses. Such an Infrastructure can also reduce operational expenses since there is less equipment to configure and maintain.

Drawbacks of a Converged Infrastructure

Despite the potential benefits, converged infrastructures have downsides too, some of which include:

Vendor lock-ins

Most converged Infrastructure solutions are black-boxes. Because of the lack of transparency, some vendors can include fewer features and functionalities within their converged infrastructure components. This can lock a company to a single vendor in instances where the organization wants to take control of the infrastructure’s building blocks.

Increased complexity

Scaling out a converged infrastructure after initial deployment is complex and expensive. Besides, you often need highly skilled and experienced IT admins to undertake such an exercise.

Expensive for large scale deployments

The cost savings from converged Infrastructures may be suitable for small-scale deployments. However, for large-scale deployments—that involve tens of servers and terabytes of storage—converged infrastructures may be costly.

Converged Infrastructure vs. Hyper-converged Infrastructure

Converged infrastructure is hardware-based and packages legacy data center components into a single solution provided by a single vendor, making data center deployment and management easier. A hyper-converged infrastructure, on the other hand, is a truly software-defined solution that virtualizes x86 servers and storage and allows management through a single console.  

Converged infrastructure can utilize an organization’s existing hardware. Although packaged together on a single hardware appliance, all data center components like servers, storage and network remain independent from each other, allowing organizations to scale each component separately as needed.  

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), abstracts all data center components and provides greater flexibility. Compute and storage resources are completely virtualized, allowing faster scalability. However, scaling one resource will automatically scale other resources as well. For instance, organizations can add storage by adding more nodes, but each node will bring its own storage as well as compute. The other option could be to scale up by adding storage arrays or drivers which will be a higher upfront cost. 

 The goal of both converged and hyper-converged infrastructures are to lower the data center footprint and maintenance costs for organizations. Ultimately, an organization’s unique circumstances and requirements will determine if one solution is better suited than the others. 

Why Deploy a Converged Infrastructure? 

Organizations work with converged infrastructure vendors to centralize, optimize, and manage the IT resourceswhile lowering costs and reducing complexity. It is gaining momentum as IT organizations shift away from owning and managing hardware to a flexible self-service model in which resources are consumed on demand. IT vendors and industry analysts use several terms to describe the notion, including “converged system,” “unified computing,” “fabric-based computing,” and “dynamic infrastructure. 

What to Look Out For

In the case of selecting a converged infrastructure, organizations will have to deal with some vendor lock-in, although this may not be as challenging as it sounds. Converged infrastructure is designed as a turnkey appliance for rapid implementation, and it uses stock servers and network equipment you would need to buy either way. Having a standard hardware and software interface also makes it easier to manage and maintain. Organizations should request information on the vendor’s product cadence and the timeline for integrating additional features and functionality. 

Parallels RAS and Converged Infrastructures

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) leverages the advantages of any existing converged infrastructure by allowing for efficient and secure application and desktop delivery. By choosing Parallels RAS, IT admins can deliver seamless workplaces effortlessly, managing remote sessions and virtual applications through the Parallels RAS Console without configuring anything else. Additionally, there is no vendor lock-in when deploying Parallels RAS, as it can combine and work with multiple infrastructures, both on-premises and in the cloud. 

Download our 30-day evaluation period of Parallels RAS today