Today’s hyperconverged technologies are here to stay it seems. I mean, who wouldn’t want to employ a novel technology approach that “consolidates all required functionality” into a single infrastructure appliance that provides an “efficient, elastic pool of x86” resources controlled by a “software-centric” architecture? I mean, outside of the x86 component, it’s not like we haven’t seen this type of platform before (hello, mainframe anyone?).
But this post is not about the technology behind HCI, nor about whether this technology is the right choice for your IT demands – it’s more about what you need to consider on day two, after your new platform is happily spinning away in your datacenter. Assuming you have determined that the hyperconverged path will deliver technology and business value for your organization, why wouldn’t you extend that belief system to how you plan on operating it?
Today’s hyperconverged vendors offer very comprehensive packages that include some advanced support offerings. They have spent much time and energy (and VC dollars) in creating monitoring and analytics platforms that are definitely an advancement over traditional technology support packages. While technology vendors such as HP, Dell/EMC, Cisco and others have for years provided phone-home monitoring and utilization/performance reporting capabilities, hyperconverged vendors have pushed these capabilities further with real-time analytics and automation workflows (ie Nutanix Prism, SimpliVity OmniWatch, OmniView). Additionally, these vendors have aligned support plans to business outcomes such as “mission critical”, “production”, “basic”, etc.
Now you are asking, Mr. know-it-all, didn’t you just debunk your own argument? Au contraire I say, I have just re-enforced it…
Each hyperconverged vendor technology requires its own SEPARATE platform for monitoring and analytics. And these tools are RESTRICTED to just what is happening INTERNALLY within the converged platform. Sure, that covers quite a bit of your operational needs, but is it the COMPLETE story?
Let’s say you deploy SimpliVity for your main datacenter. You adopt the “Mission Critical” support plan, which comes with OmniWatch and OmniView. You now have great insight into how your OmniCube architecture is operating, and you can delve into the analytics to understand how your SimpliVity resources are being utilized. In addition, you get software support with 1, 2, or 4 hour response (depending on the the channel you use – phone, email, web ticket). You also get software updates and RCA reports. It sounds like a comprehensive, “converged” set of required support services.
And it is, for your selected hyperconverged vendor. What these services do not provide is a holistic view of how the hyperconverged platforms are operating WITHIN the totality of your environment. How effective is the networking that connects it to the rest of the datacenter? What about non-hyperconverged based workloads, either on traditional server platforms or in the cloud? And how do you measure end user experience if your view is limited to hyperconverged data-points? Not to mention, what happens if your selected hyperconverged vendor is gobbled up by one of the major technology companies or, worse, closes when funding runs dry?
Adopting hyperconverged as your next-generation technology play is certainly something to consider carefully, and has the potential to positively impact your overall operational maturity. You can reduce the number of vendor technologies and management interfaces, get more proactive, and make decisions based on real data analytics. But your operations teams will still need to determine if the source of impact is within the scope of the hyperconverged stack and covered by the vendor support plan, or if its symptomatic of an external influence.
Beyond the awareness of health and optimized operations, there will be service interruptions. If there weren’t we would all be in the unemployment line. Will a 1 hour response be sufficient in a major outage? Is your operational team able to response 7X24 with hyperconverged skills? And, how will you consolidate governance and compliance reporting between the hyperconverged platform and the rest of your infrastructure?
Hyperconverged platforms can certainly enhance and help mature your IT operations, but they do provide only part of the story. Consider carefully if their operational and support offerings are sufficient for overall IT operational effectiveness. Look for ways to consolidate the operational information and data provided by hyperconverged platforms with the rest of your management interfaces into a single control plane, where your operations team can work more efficiently. If you’re looking for help, GreenPages can provide this support via its Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) offering.
Convergence at this level is even more critical to ensure maximum support of your business objectives.
If you are interested in learning how GreenPages’ CMaaS platform can help you manage hyper-converged offerings, reach out!
By Geoff Smith, Senior Manager, Managed Services Business Development