Laptop Displaying the GigaOm Research Portal

Get your Free GigaOm account today.

Access complimentary GigaOm content by signing up for a FREE GigaOm account today — or upgrade to premium for full access to the GigaOm research catalog. Join now and uncover what you’ve been missing!

Key Criteria for Evaluating Hyperconverged Infrastructure Solutionsv2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. HCI Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take

1. Summary

Traditional infrastructures are too complex, too difficult to manage, too slow to adapt to changes, and too expensive to adequately respond to changing business needs. IT departments everywhere are looking to save money while becoming more efficient in terms of both resource provisioning and reaction time. Recent global events have also accelerated many digital transformation initiatives and more than ever, enterprises now need an IT infrastructure that can adequately support legacy and modern applications simultaneously while providing a consistent user experience across different on-premises and cloud environments.

A cloud-only IT strategy is not viable for many organizations. Even the most aggressive cloud-only strategies are now refocused on a more balanced hybrid and multi-cloud approach. Unfortunately, mixing cloud and traditional IT infrastructures heightens the risk of creating silos, heading in exactly the wrong direction and complicating the overall infrastructure even more. Unlike traditional infrastructure patterns, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a step forward in simplicity and flexibility. HCI lets organizations hide IT infrastructure complexity while realizing the benefits of a cloud-like environment. HCI simplifies operations and makes the transport of data and applications between on-premises and cloud easier.

Initially, HCI was chosen mostly by small- and medium-sized enterprises as an alternative to traditional virtualized infrastructures for its simplicity and very limited set of workloads, like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). It is now common in larger organizations as well and covers a broad range of workloads, including all types of virtualized workloads, big data analytics, edge computing use cases, and more. In fact, for the most advanced solutions, the trade-offs between efficiency and simplicity are becoming less relevant, mostly thanks to the adoption of all-flash storage, and their feature sets allow them to address a wide range of applications now (see Figure 1). In some circumstances, HCI users can further optimize infrastructure by changing its purpose over time. For example, an HCI-based VDI can be quickly repurposed overnight for big data analytics or AI workloads that can take advantage of GPUs installed in the cluster nodes.

Though choosing the right HCI infrastructure remains challenging, the core technology is consolidated, and most of the vendors have mature stacks. As we will see, what really makes the difference now are services and features built on top of this stack.

Figure 1. Workloads Covered by Hyperconverged Infrastructure from the Data Storage Perspective

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.