Meet the New Buzzword on the Block: Hyper-Convergence
With technology moving as fast as it is, vocabulary needs to keep pace. That’s why we gain a slew of new words every year. Then suddenly, a word is everywhere, and non-specialists need to catch up on what it means.
As with “cloud,” so with “hyper-convergence.”
Although the word is impossibly cool-sounding (and the technology arguably so,) the meaning is boring. For anyone not familiar with the technological challenges that it overcomes, it seems too reasonable to even merit a name.
What Is Hyper-Convergence?
Simply put, hyper-convergence is when you get a full-featured infrastructure system all in one box, supported by one vendor. There is no need to individually source and then set up components like storage, networking, and virtualization resources and then painstakingly sew them together.
This is the difference between building your own PC and ordering one to your specs. Unless you’ve got specialized needs, this would seem to be a no-brainer, right?
Well, not quite.
The Challenges of Hyper-Convergence
Hyper-convergence didn’t even exist as a concept two years ago, so that gives you an idea of how young the technology is. Knowing that it’s an immature technology, you can anticipate many of the challenges.
Vendors May Overpromise — In theory, many things are possible with hyper-convergence. In practice, those solutions may not yet be created yet. With conventional setups, you purchase solutions from individual companies that specialize — the downside is that your team now needs to make these solutions work together optimally. Hyper-converged infrastructure starts from a premise of tight integration, but the individual solutions might not be the best quality you can get.
Vendors May Not Last — Many industry experts have highlighted the idea that the possibility of “vendor lock-in” may make companies leery of buying in. I think the issue is more that, with the industry so young, companies are wary of the fact that in ten years, 90% of these companies will probably no longer exist.
You Must Be Clear on Your Needs — While the concept of “plug-and-play” is great in theory, it comes with a caveat. Hyper-converged boxes are optimized for a predetermined work load/use case. If your needs change, you will find it difficult to recalibrate your set-up. In fact, some experts have pointed out that hyper-converged boxes run counter to all the benefits we’ve come to enjoy from cloud technology — that hyper-convergence represents a step backward as far as technological improvement goes.
I think that hyper-convergence will have a few, extremely compelling use cases — some people don’t need flexibility — but at this stage, hyper-convergence is less useful than its supporters claim. That being said, this will almost certainly change within the next year or two.