Hyperconverged Infrastructure Market

Infrastructure Market

by James G. Barr

Docid: 00021019

Publication Date: 2301

Report Type: MARKET


Hyperconverged infrastructure is the combination of servers (compute
resources) and storage into a distributed infrastructure platform,
replacing legacy infrastructure consisting of separate servers, storage
networks, and storage arrays. Featuring a turnkey infrastructure, rapid
deployment, superior performance, and operational resilience,
hyperconverged infrastructure is finding favor with enterprises engaged in
data center consolidation, digital transformation, and multiple cloud

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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Hyperconverged infrastructure is the combination of servers (compute
resources) and storage into a distributed infrastructure platform,
replacing legacy infrastructure consisting of separate servers, storage
networks, and storage arrays.

Converged and Hyperconverged
Infrastructure Tutorial

As described by one of its leading advocates and innovators, Nutanix,
“HCI converges the entire data center stack, including compute, storage,
storage networking, and virtualization. More specifically, it combines
commodity data center server hardware with locally attached storage
devices (spinning disk or flash) and is powered by a distributed software
layer to eliminate common pain points associated with legacy

“Complex and expensive legacy infrastructure is replaced by a distributed
platform running on industry-standard commodity servers that enables
enterprises to size their workloads precisely and to scale flexibly as
needed. Each server, also known as a node, includes x86 processors with
SSDs and HDDs. Software running on each node distributes all operating
functions across the cluster for superior performance and resilience.”1

Figure 1 illustrates the various infrastructure states between
conventional non-converged infrastructure (on the left) to hyper-converged
(or hyperconverged) infrastructure (on the right). Please note that
converged infrastructure, which preceded hyperconverged infrastructure,
usually consisted of a single server/network/storage stack.

Figure 1. The Evolution of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Figure 1. The Evolution of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Although HCI developers would likely reject the comparison,
hyperconverged systems might be described as modern day mainframes where
the distinction between computing components is blurred by a central
command and control interface; in the same way, for example, that legacy
System/370 mainframes were regulated by a core operating system like MVS
or VM/370.

Featuring a turnkey infrastructure, rapid deployment, superior
performance, and operational resilience, hyperconverged infrastructure is
finding favor with enterprises engaged in:

  • Data center consolidation
  • Digital transformation
  • Multiple cloud adoption

Market Dynamics

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HCI Benefits

In general, hyperconverged infrastructure is viewed as a vehicle for:

  • Improving information system performance by
    optimizing compute, storage, and network interactions.
  • Lowering operating costs, particularly power and
    physical space (the hardware “footprint”).
  • Increasing automation since compute, storage, and
    network resources operate and interoperate as a single system.
  • Simplifying sourcing and support with one vendor
    supplying compute and storage assets in a single platform.

“Ripping and Replacing”

The long-term promise of hyperconverged infrastructure involves remaking
the data center. i.e., eliminating the present server and storage “silos”
in favor of a seamless, i.e., hyperconverged, infrastructure. Affecting
such a transformation, however, would likely require “ripping and
replacing” existing systems – an expensive proposition that most data
center managers endeavor to avoid.

As a consequence, many HCI deployments today serve up new capabilities
such as virtual desktops and private clouds. They augment rather than
replace existing infrastructure elements. Instead of adding conventional
servers and storage systems to power these new applications, a
hyperconverged infrastructure solution is implemented, which may or may
not integrate (or be compatible) with the data center’s non-HCI systems
and services.

HCI Versus Cloud

Exclusive of cloud providers who will utilize HCI to build out their
public and private cloud offerings, prospective enterprise adopters must
weigh the advantages and disadvantages of leveraging HCI solutions to
refresh their data centers versus moving their IT operations into the

To the extent that HCI systems become simple to manage and maintain
(truly “turnkey”), the enterprise calculus relative to on-premise versus
cloud operations may again favor on-premise deployments.

HCI Limitations

Tempering the enthusiasm for hyperconverged infrastructure, analyst Ben
Miller reminds us that HCI has limitations. “It has to do with the way HCI
is designed. It’s meant to help IT organizations coordinate networking,
storage and compute resources at a high level, so it naturally benefits
use cases involving all three. But if an organization were to just need
extra compute resources, for example, HCI might not make the most sense.”

Citing Kapil Bakshi, a senior director and distinguished engineer at
Cisco, “If you’re looking for very large industrial IT applications … that
have very large databases which require dedicated compute or dedicated
large storage, then [HCI] wouldn’t serve that purpose very well …
because they scale vertically. Essentially any application that would
scale vertically would be a fit for a different construct than HCI.”2

Market Leaders

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While the hyperconverged infrastructure hardware and software space is
occupied by a wide variety of vendors – including HP Enterprise, Huawei,
NetApp, VMware, Microsoft, Hitachi Vantara, Lenovo, NEC, IBM, and Fujitsu
– the consensus big three providers are:

  • Cisco
  • Dell
  • Nutanix

Figure 2. Nutanix HCI Appliance

Figure 2. Nutanix HCI Appliance

Source: Nutanix

As a measure of their relative popularity, at least in terms of
hyperconverged infrastructure software, Gartner reports that according to
a recent survey:

Cisco has a “verified” user rating of 4.4
stars with 117 reviews.

Dell has a rating of 4.7 with 227 reviews.

Nutanix has a rating of 4.7 with 480 reviews.3

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Market Growth

Straits Research predicts that the global hyperconverged infrastructure
market, valued at $7.225 billion in 2021, will expand to $53.83 billion by
2030, exhibiting a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent
during the 2021-2030 forecast period.4

ResearchandMarkets is similarly optimistic, valuing the market at $8.98
billion in 2021, and forecasting $38.58 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 27.50

Growth Factors

Data Security and Disaster Recovery

In the view of ResearchandMarkets, “[one] of the most important factors
impacting the hyperconverged infrastructure market is the need for
enhanced data protection and disaster recovery solutions. To reduce
complexity in both hardware and virtualized settings, organizations are
turning to HCI.”6

Mordor Intelligence concurs, observing that “[the] market is expanding
because of the rising use of HCI solutions like data security and disaster
recovery. According to the IBM Data Breach Report 2022, from $4.24 million
last year to $4.35 million this year, the average data breach cost
increased by 2.6 percent. With the aid of components and apps,
hyperconverged systems lower the danger of data security breaches.”7

Straits Research assesses that “the disaster recovery application will
grow at the highest CAGR.”8

Automation and Artificial Intelligence

Hyperconverged infrastructure both enables and benefits from automation
and artificial intelligence operations.

As Mordor Intelligence explains, “[automation] and machine learning are
already commonly regarded as productivity boosters for businesses that
employ them to improve application performance and handle massive amounts
of data. AI handles workload demands, optimizes application workloads, and
optimizes HCI storage. By bridging the gaps between on-premises private
cloud, public cloud, and existing data center infrastructure,
hyperconverged infrastructure at the center of a hybrid multi-cloud model
enables businesses to manage end-to-end data workflows and ensure that
data is easily accessible for AI.”9

Other Influences

With its streamlined image and fault-tolerant design, hyperconverged
infrastructure is emerging as the preferred choice for:

Mission-critical application support

Digital Transformation initiatives

Data center consolidation

“Hybrid IT” configuration builds – merging
on-premises data centers with private/public clouds

Healthcare sector expansion

Small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME) demand

On-premises-to-cloud migrations

Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing

Strategic Planning Implications

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Just like cloud computing and virtualization, the rationale for
hyperconverged infrastructure rests on two principal promises:

  • Lower IT overhead, i.e., lower IT costs.
  • Improved productivity, specifically, the opportunity to “spin up” new
    IT applications and services in record time.

As with cloud computing and virtualization, these goals can be elusive.
To help ensure success, enterprise planners should approach hyperconverged
Infrastructure in a cautious manner, observing the following HCI
implementation best practices:

  1. Start small. Before launching an enterprise-wide virtual desktop
    initiative, for example, conduct a small-scale pilot project (as a
    “proof of concept”).
  2. Project the probable return on HCI investment, and devise metrics
    designed to measure the actual ROI.
  3. Present a HCI business case to senior management and enlist their
    approval and cooperation.
  4. Since HCI and non-HCI infrastructure elements must co-exist (even
    interoperate), identify and correct any known incompatibilities.
  5. Engage HCI specialists (perhaps a third-party consulting firm) to
    monitor HCI operations, at least initially. The enterprise’s regular IT
    staffers may and, in fact, probably will be unfamiliar with
    hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.
  6. Make all preparations to protect enterprise information. Remember that
    virtualization, for example, introduced new “threat vectors.” In a
    similar fashion, HCI may expose new security and privacy
  7. Extend the enterprise’s disaster recovery and business continuity
    umbrella to encompass HCI systems. If a HCI experiment fails, it may be
    necessary to recover any processed data.
  8. Use the request for proposal (RFP) vehicle to source HCI solutions.
    When used correctly, the RFP will serve three purposes: (1) it will
    clarify, if necessary, the proposed HCI initiative; (2) it will enable
    multiple providers to respond with their best HCI solution; and (3) it
    will permit these providers to offer any special insights or
    opportunities relative to running a hyperconverged infrastructure using
    their solution (or solutions).
  9. Consider small as well as large HCI vendors. Remember that despite
    their size and age, firms like Nutanix are well-established and
    well-respected in the hyperconverged infrastructure community.
  10. Finally, before proceeding too far down the hyperconverged
    infrastructure path, reconcile any problems or inconsistencies between
    the enterprise’s long-term HCI plan and its long-term cloud plan.

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About the Author

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James G. Barr is a leading business continuity analyst
and business writer with more than 30 years’ IT experience. A member of
“Who’s Who in Finance and Industry,” Mr. Barr has designed, developed, and
deployed business continuity plans for a number of Fortune 500 firms. He
is the author of several books, including How to Succeed in Business
BY Really Trying
, a member of Faulkner’s Advisory Panel, and a
senior editor for Faulkner’s Security Management Practices.
Mr. Barr can be reached via e-mail at jgbarr@faulkner.com.

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