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Hyper-converged systems: Questions for CIOs

Hyper-converged systems are drawing a lot of interest. The main reason is simplicity. They bring together all the necessary data center components in one package — computation, storage, networking and virtualization. So the systems are easier to buy, implement and manage than traditional infrastructure. They take up a lot less room and can reduce management costs.

How can’t CIOs find an appeal? To determine whether hyper-converged systems are a good fit, they should start by asking a variety of questions.

Start with the basics

Consultant Judith Hurwitz said CIOs should consider specific uses — what do they actually want to do?

“Are you analyzing data in real time and coming up with next steps that really require a tremendous amount of compute and storage, where all of that has to come together very quickly?” said Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates and a prolific author of books on IT.

A cloud infrastructure service by say, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure, could work, too, but depending on the applications that will be run, it could run up some serious bills.

“What is it going to cost you in the public cloud?” Hurwitz said.

Exactly what CIOs will do with a hyper-converged system is also important to John Burke, an analyst at Nemertes Research. CIOs need to think about what kind of performance they will need for the applications they will run — things like how many units of information need to be processed and how fast.

“You’ve always got to ask yourself the performance questions,” Burke said. “Will [a hyper-converged system] deliver the performance I need for the job that I envision running on it?”

CIOs should also think about where their administrators currently spend their time and how much time a hyper-converged system might save, he said.

Thinking of others

But CIOs can’t just ask themselves questions, Hurwitz said. They also need to pepper their constituents, their business users, with them.

“The basic question is, ‘What do you want to do that you can’t do now? What’s holding you back?'” Perhaps the business side wants to use applications that rely on the internet of things or on huge amounts of data or analytics — and their current infrastructure systems aren’t cutting it.

When they’re ready, Hurwitz said, CIOs need to take their concerns straight to the companies that sell hyper-converged systems.

“You put those same questions to those vendors: ‘This is what the people in my organization are trying to solve. Show me how you do it,'” she said.