HP is touting the benefits of a converged datacentre infrastructure to its customers, claiming that this architecture delivers IT that is not only more flexible and future-proof, but can cut costs by serving as a better foundation for implementing virtualisation and cloud computing strategies.
Converged infrastructure is one of those nebulous IT industry terms that can mean different things to different people at different times. For HP, its definition revolves around corralling servers, storage and networking into a general-purpose resource pool capable of being turned to whatever a customer's current compute requirements might be.
If you think that sounds a lot like cloud computing, that's because converged infrastructure is essentially the hardware foundation upon which a private cloud can be implemented, although it can also be used for other applications.
It stands in contrast to more traditional ways of building out IT infrastructure, where applications tended to be deployed in silos of dedicated infrastructure, running on a dedicated server cluster hooked up to dedicated storage.
In fact, converged infrastructure is a concept HP claims to have pioneered on a smaller scale with its BladeSystem blade servers several years back, which mix server, storage and networking inside a single enclosure.
"BladeSystem was really the first implementation of converged infrastructure, and everything we've been doing since then has been leading towards this," said Bob McEwan, chief technologist for HP Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking in the UK.
Among the claimed benefits of converged infrastructure are that IT departments are able to spend less time on just maintaining the infrastructure, according to HP, and can consequently focus more on technology efforts that will drive the business forwards.
"Converged infrastructure provides you with the engine to move from just keeping the lights on to being able to drive innovation," said David Chalmers, HP's Enterprise Group chief technologist, for EMEA.
While HP would obviously like customers to invest in its own server, storage, and network kit, the firm contends that it, or rather its system integrator partners, will be prepared to help customers adopt a converged infrastructure strategy by incorporating what they already have, rather than starting again with a clean sheet.
"Other vendors will tell you what you have to do is buy everything from them. It smells like a lock-in, and it is. Converged infrastructure for us is about partnering, not just about being the supplier," said Chalmers.
However, other enterprise vendors, notably Dell, have been telling much the same story. It seems that suppliers have cottoned on to the fact that few customers are prepared to do a rip-and-replace of much of their infrastructure, regardless of the advantages promised, and so they are bending over backwards to incorporate legacy kit into any new build-out that customers are prepared to purchase.
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