2020-06-18 07:37:00 UTC

What is the difference between converged and hyper-converged infrastructure?


From my own research, it seems that Converged Infrastructure relies on hardware, whereas Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is software-based. What does this mean in practical terms? What are the pros and cons of each?

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77 Answers

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Yes, you are right, as converged system is mainly hardware-based and HCI is a software solution.

However, Converged System is preconfigured, prevalidated and certified solution for each application. And is available from HPE, Cisco, and other vendors. Converged System is a combination of compute, storage, networking and hypervisor. Also, you have a choice of vendors in a configuration like servers you can buy from HPE, networking you can buy from Cisco, etc.

Whereas HCI is a software-based solution in which each vendor has different solution like HPE Simplivity, Nutanix or vSAN, etc. HCI is combination of 4 or more technologies/products, like compute, storage, hypervisor and networking, in one solution. The choice of a converged system or HCI depends upon the application and customer choice. As there are many pros and cons for both the solutions.

2020-06-19 07:40:46 UTC
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Top 20Reseller

Converged Architecture is a cohesive combination of hardware (compute, network and storage) and software (virtualisation, bare-metal OS) that is managed centrally but typlically at the element level.  This is avavailble as a turn-key solution from a single vendor or as a refernence architecture where the Customer has a greater responsibity in defining what they want.


Hyper-converged architecture is still managed centrally but through the virtualisation element only.  Compute and storage elements are typically consolidated with multiple units becoming the platform.  This consolidation simplifies the design/deployment but expansion of one element usually means the other may also be unnecessaily expanded.


A newer architecture dHCI (disaggregated HCI) separates the compute and storage reducing the expansion issues of the original HCI systems.


Converged Architecture is more flexible and less system resources are used in system operation whereas HCI is simpler to operate.

2020-06-18 23:49:36 UTC
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Top 5LeaderboardReal User

Well 99% of those terms are marketing. Typically when a vendor asks - are you converged or do you have a hyper-converged infrastructure it is about hardware. But you have it backwards. Typically HCI is a "packaged" solution. It is the compute, storage & networking in one "box" (or rack or whatever). It is not only designed to work together, it's sold that way. 


Converged infrastructure is more do-it-yourself. You pick and design the compute, the storage and the networking to work together, sort of best breed for the money. I know at least in small scales - like for small-medium businesses - HCI is typically much more expensive. At least that has been my experience. I can put together a better solution for less money. 


Both of these terms are almost exclusively used in the virtual machine world, doesn't apply to "traditional" data center. 


The other term that you will see used with these two terms is software defined data center. That's marketing speak for when you use virtual networking and storage - for example in the VMworld virtual switches with vSphere and NSX. Storage can be virtualized with VMware's VSAN product or 3rd party products like StarWind VSAN (that's what I use). 


To put this all in perspective from my perspective: I have a 3-node cluster made up of (3) HPE DL-380's, with 60 disks spread across those (3) nodes being managed and presented to VMware through StarWind VSAN. Inside VMware I have virtual distributed switches & virtual networks setup. Physically there are several network cards in each server - teamed - and going to the appropriate physical switches on the physical segments of the network. According to what we've said above that would be a "software defined data center" running in a converged infrastructure. Again, most of this is marketing speak but it does help to define what's going on.

2020-06-18 15:36:04 UTC
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Top 5LeaderboardReal User

A Converged Infrastructure has more hardware.  Compute is on one set of hardware.  Storage is on another set of direct-attached (or other) hardware.  Networking is separated, too.


In a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Compute and Storage are on the same hardware, and depending on the complexity of the solution, sometimes Networking isn't even needed because you can directly connect the nodes to each other if you only have 2 nodes.  Adding nodes is as simple as duplicating the hardware and scaling up or out, accordingly.   


A Hyper-Converged Infrastructure requires less hardware and gives you a more simplified solution.  It is also less expensive to procure, operate and maintain.   

2020-06-18 12:47:54 UTC
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Top 20LeaderboardReseller

Also in a converged infrastructure software is important. Converged for me is a combination of hardware components that are sold as a single solution and where a software layer is added to make the management easier. But the hardware solution consists mostly from individual server, storage and networking components.
Most hyperconverged solutions goes further with integrating the storage layer into the server layer, removing a layer of hardware, and where the software inside the solution create a shared storage pool for the server stack. Automatically the management layer is also simplified just as with the converged solution... Less hardware (or differently used) and more software inside... I call it more a typical evolution of IT infrastructure... Know that converged and hyperconverged is a marketing thing and not really a product as such... I saw converged and hyperconverged solutions already 20 years ago before it even existed... Just look for what you need and pick the right solution... 

2020-06-18 12:47:08 UTC
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Top 20Consultant

In principle you’re right “Converged Infrastructure relies on hardware, whereas Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is software-based”. But there are further advances for software management of containers, VMs, storage, and networks within a single architecture.



As a Red Hat partner, we are aware of coming developments based on Red Hat OpenShift which significantly simplify operations and provide complete management and portability across On-Prem, Hybrid, and Multi-Cloud environments.

2020-06-18 09:30:15 UTC
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Top 20User

The basic answers:


Converged is an infrastructure where you can configure all components like compute, storage boxes, load balancers connectivity glued by a software component that can show and admin al them as one.


Hyperconverged takes all those components and compresses all that functionality in just one box (server with storage and all software ) with software-defined infrastructure than can glue several of those all in one boxes to accomplish the scalability requirements. But remember HCI is not for all kinds of apps.

2020-06-18 16:57:50 UTC
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