CapEx and OpEx Savings With Private Cloud
HCI continues to be viewed as a key enabler of private clouds. HCI leverages commodity hardware to host applications provided as VMs (and containers). The definition of HCI varies by vendor, but can be separated into two broad models: HCI appliances and HCI software.
Both HCI models provide OpEx benefits, especially when compared to traditional three-tier architectures. HCI software provides CapEx benefits compared to both HCI appliances and a traditional IT model. One reason for this is because real software HCI is completely hardware agnostic. This means more choice in not only new server hardware, but also enabling the use of existing server hardware — or even a combination of new and existing.
The current generation of software HCI-based clouds don’t have the hardware prerequisites of either legacy infrastructure or first-generation HCI appliances. Hence, commodity server hardware can be used to build robust, enterprise-class infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of proprietary approaches.
With software HCI, scaling can be accomplished without hidden costs. Data center architects no longer need to purchase entire nodes just to add storage capacity. No new storage arrays need be purchased, eliminating add-on costs such as having to purchase another license for storage array compression software
Modern software HCI also parts company with old assumptions about HCI technology and its limits. While some of the early implementations of software HCI required that compute and storage be scaled at the same time, today’s offerings allow for independent scaling of compute and storage, providing the ability to grow the storage of a particular node or cluster without requiring the modification or deployment of new nodes.
Hypervisor agnosticism increases flexibility, too. Data center architects seek to implement applications using best-fit hosting technology, and they increasingly expect the infrastructure used in their clouds to facilitate this requirement. Today, the same HCI infrastructure can be used to instantiate workloads operating under multiple hypervisors (or containers), a capability that not only simplifies application deployment and infrastructure resource provisioning, but also ensures the readiness of workload and infrastructure for tomorrow’s multi-cloud environments.
CapEx costs represent, according to analysts, about 20% – 25% of the annual cost of ownership of infrastructure: the cost to acquire, deploy, configure and license. The other 75% – 80% of annualized TCO is related to OpEx. Software HCI offers a number of OpEx advantages.
REST APIs permit easy integration with existing infrastructure management middleware. These APIs also allow many infrastructure tuning and management tasks to be fully automated, as they can be configured, managed, and triggered via the API.
Software HCI also enables technology silos to be dismantled. Instead of building infrastructure organized around having different clusters with different VM performance and resiliency configurations, software HCI-based clouds have the ability to host mixed workloads within a single cluster by natively supporting VMs with performance and resiliency configurations on the same cluster. That translates into efficiencies in management and utilization.
Thanks to the virtualization-centric storage management of software HCI, workloads can be managed as VMs rather than traditional storage constructs. Cloud management applications – and therefore end users, such as developers – can provision workloads using simplified VM constructs such as vCPUs, or amount of required storage rather than managing storage constructs such as volumes or LUNs.
Applications built on top of software HCI-based clouds can take advantage of not only enterprise storage features, but also encryption, and per-VM or even per-vDisk QoS capabilities. This allows for fine tuning of performance to achieve SLAs, regulatory compliance requirements, and preservation service assignments.
Clouds built on software HCI are easier to automate. This allows existing IT teams to manage more infrastructure, enabling growth, and helping to control headcount, which equates to massive savings.
More Than Just Cost Savings
Software HCI removes much of the risk of early technology obsolescence that’s become a classic drawback with technology investments. Hardware and hypervisor agnosticism lengthen private cloud infrastructure’s time to obsolescence, while ensuring that it’s capable of leveraging the latest technology innovations.
Software HCI solutions are self-healing. They regularly scrub data for errors, monitor hardware for failures, and automatically rebuild data copies when a failure occurs or nodes are removed from a cluster (a process called reconvergence). Data integrity checking, automated reconvergence, high availability, and clustering combine to eliminate the need to schedule workload downtime to perform maintenance.
As you can see, there are savings to be found across the board with software HCI, for both CapEx and OpEx. Given that reality, the longer you wait to make the switch to software HCI, the more it’s costing you.
Another hidden cost is that it impacts your ability to innovate, which ultimately can leave even more money on the table. Does that really make sense from a business perspective?