The IT industry is full of acronyms and buzzwords (as those of us in the profession are sometimes painfully aware.). Many of these are constantly evolving in definition (e.g., “the cloud”). There is also a never-ending supply of new technology and processes, all of which we struggle to define. As a result, we end up having new terminologies that we expect our customers to immediately know and accept. An example of this – and the primary topic of this post – is the term “converged infrastructure.” 

Converged infrastructure is an aggregation of servers, storage, networking and software (e.g., hypervisor, operating systems, databases, etc.) offered in a pre-built and pre-designed package. The makes and models of the core components differ between the various converged infrastructure offerings, and while the brands may be different, the value of the converged infrastructure topology is identical.

The first advantage this type of model offers is the ability to virtually eliminate the risk of interoperability conflicts. In a traditional data center build-out (meaning you buy storage from “Vendor A,” servers from “Vendor B,” and switches and software from “Vendor C”) you have to be very conscious of how all of the components will work with one another. For example, you may not be aware that the HBAs you configured in your servers are not compatible with the SAN you ordered, or how to determine what storage protocols you should be using for your VM data stores, what is supported by your hypervisor or what functionality your SAN has to offer.

Such small interoperability issues may not seem to be a big deal, but when building out a new data center or refreshing components of an existing one, they can pile up and end up delaying time for deployment which could potentially cause unexpected production issues as you approach your go-live deadline. Converged infrastructure vendors do all of the pre-testing, pre-validating and documentation for the package you deploy. Furthermore, according to a NetApp study, “Customers who take the standardized approach to IT have repeatedly demonstrated better than 50 percent faster deployment times over traditional approaches.”

Infrastructure convergence. Resistance is futile. #CDWBlogSolutions

Imagine enabling your IT staff to work on strategic business initiatives rather than spending time on mundane testing and administrative work. Next, imagine creating an infrastructure wherein the implementation, monitoring, reporting, patching, updates and even day-to-day management are done for you – allowing your staff to become experts in evolving and developing the technology for your business.

Another major benefit of investing in a converged offering is in the area of support. Many of the converged infrastructure offerings offer “single phone number support,” meaning if you have any issue with the entire stack (dropped data store, poor performance, high latency, etc.), you have one person to call who can solve your issue. According to VCE – one of the converged infrastructure market leaders – “VCE’s support organization is successful with high customer satisfaction rates and high first-call close rates (up to 90 percent).” Other converged offerings may utilize a “collaborative support model” where – rather than employing a triage of support staff – they employ a system that “flags” your support contracts with each of the component manufacturers.

For example, should you need to call your hypervisor manufacturer because of performance issues, rather than simply telling you, “It’s not our fault, it must be your networking,” and directing you to call somebody else, they take ownership and contact the other manufacturer on your behalf to open tickets, forward logs or consider whatever else might be done to solve your problem.

On top of that, according to IDC, “an expanding number of organizations around the world are turning to integrated systems as a way to address longstanding and difficult infrastructure challenges.”

As IT continues to evolve, so will the technology that is available. Converged infrastructure enables IT to be faster, more agile and more efficient. The converged offering you decide to choose ultimately depends on what your requirements are, as well as which option best aligns with your business goals. CDW Data Center Architects are equipped to help decode the options you have and properly architect, deploy and support whichever you choose.

Interested to read more about the benefits of converged infrastructure and how CDW can work for you? Check out this BizTech article, Convergence Conquers Complexity for Total Wine & More, as well as our case study with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Lastly, be sure to check out our full collection of converged infrastructure-related white papers, data sheets and reference guides for even more information.

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