Hyperconvergence has come a long way in a relatively short time, and enterprises are taking advantage of the new capabilities.\nHyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) combines storage, computing and networking into a single system;\u00a0hyperconverged platforms\u00a0include a hypervisor for virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking.\nHCI platforms were initially aimed at virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), video storage,\u00a0and other discrete workloads with predictable resource requirements. Over time, they have advanced to become suitable platforms for enterprise applications, databases, private clouds, and edge computing deployments.\n\nLearn more about hyperconvergence\n\nWhat is hyperconvergence?\n Making the right hyperconvergence choice: HCI hardware or software?\nWhy NVMe? Users weigh benefits of NVMe-accelerated flash storage\n Video storage leads to hyperconvergence for law enforcement agency \nMicro-modular data centers set to multiply\n\n\nA couple of key developments have made HCI more appealing for more workloads. One is the ability to independently scale compute and storage capacity, via a disaggregated model. The other is the ability to create a hyperconverged solution using NVMe\u00a0\u2014 an open logical device interface specification\u00a0for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express bus \u2014 over fabrics.\nIn general, there is a greater understanding of the value proposition of HCI, \u201cspecifically for smaller enterprises that may not need [or] want a full-scale data center infrastructure, but want to retain some control over their environments,\u201d says Sebastian Lagana, research manager, infrastructure platforms and technologies, at research firm IDC.\n\u201cThe increasing use of hybrid cloud environments by enterprises also lines up nicely with the software-defined data center story, which HCI is certainly a large part of,\u201d Lagana says.\nHCI has become a suitable platform for broader use due to a lot of the underlying improvements in the technology, Lagana says. At the same time, many enterprises have gone through an IT \u201crefresh cycle\u201d and HCI seems like a natural transition.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve spoken with some HCI adopters and, in some cases, folks we\u2019re talking to are upgrading multiple generation-old infrastructure running on old, sometimes now unsupported software,\u201d Lagana says.\n\u201cAt that point, if the old server and\/or storage technology they\u2019re using is that far behind what\u2019s now available, it becomes a matter of the level of complexity they\u2019re seeking in their new environment.\u201d\nHCI has the required horsepower while providing a user-friendly management interface, Lagana says. \u201cCould you run faster with a highly customized solution?\u201d he says. \u201cSure, but in many cases it\u2019s not worth the extra effort when the HCI solution will suffice and provides good long-term scalability.\u201d\nAmong the key benefits organizations can see from deploying HCI more broadly are greater consolidation and simplification of the IT infrastructure, which allows IT teams to better support business objectives, Lagana says.\nOther possible benefits include faster helpdesk response times, proactive understanding of potential hardware failures, the ability to quickly spin up new servers or test environments, faster disaster recovery and easier backup features.\n\u201cThere are also the more mechanical benefits,\u201d Lagana says. \u201cHardware consolidation provides power, cooling and facilities\u00a0cost savings, which is easy to measure and is an easy sell to less tech-savvy budget holders,\u201d he says.\u00a0\u201cAlso, HCI and the underlying software makes it easier to maximize utilization of existing resources, which reduces longer-term storage and server expenses as well.\u201d\nHCI deployment scales as business expands\nCeltic Manor Collection, a resort hotel and conference center operator, has been using two clusters of Dell EMC\u2019s VxRail HCI appliance, beginning in September 2017. Among the initial business drivers for deploying HCI was that Celtic Manor was embarking on a new joint venture to build an international convention center in Wales, says Chris Stanley, IT manager.\nThe project required\u00a0the flexibility to scale systems quickly, the ability to easily manage and maintain data center capacity with a small team, the ability to respond quickly to any outages in service, and resiliency to avoid any downtime for large-scale events at the convention center.\nCeltic Manor previously had an environment that included storage-area networks (SAN) and VMware ESXi servers, but it was taking a lot of resources to maintain, upgrade, and troubleshoot, Stanley says. \u201cThe business was growing\u2014and still is\u2014rapidly and bursting at the seams with data,\u201d he says. \u201cWe needed a complete rethink\u201d to prepare the data center for the future and simplify management.\nInitially the company was deploying the clusters as separate data centers for different business entities.\n\u201cWhen we deployed our second cluster we quickly realized we could do more if the two were able to connect over the network together,\u201d Stanley says. \u201cAs of today, we now have our core business systems split between the two clusters, with all of these having a recover point copy on the opposite cluster. So we now have full cluster failover if required, [which] gives us a lot of peace of mind as a business.\u201d\nHCI has become \u201cthe core tech in our business, Stanley says. \u201cWith our planned business expansion of several new hotels in the next two years, we have a template with predictive costs and scalability.\u201d\nThe company uses HCI for its main enterprise applications, which run on large Oracle and SQL databases. \u201cThese are using less resources than when they were in their previous environment, and we regularly monitor these to see if any servers are over provisioned,\u201d Stanley says. Celtic Manor is preparing to roll out VDI, with up to 450 endpoints added over the next 12 to 18 months.\n\u201cWith our business growing, we are looking to potentially use the HCI clusters for cloud and remote deployment for our new hotels,\u201d Stanley says. \u201cVxRail has given us a solid, flexible platform to grow our business.\u201d\nWhat has enabled an expanded role for HCI are developments in NVMe over fabrics, with CPUs having a smaller workload intensity, and greater amounts of input\/output operations per second\u00a0(IOPS) being achieved on a regular basis, Stanley says.\n\u201cWith demands on data center performance growing to process and store vast amounts of data every second, it is great timing for the hyperconverged market to make its mark,\u201d Stanley says.\nAmong the key benefits of HCI thus far are less time spent by the IT team on upgrading and maintaining the data center; improved application performance; and a 10% reduction in data center power consumption.\nHCI powers county's core apps and services\nAlso expanding its use of HCI is the County of San Mateo, Calif., which began using Nutanix\u2019s HCI platform in 2014.\n\u201cWe originally looked at the HCI solution to solve performance issues with our VDI deployment on VMware\u2019s Horizon platform,\u201d says Jon Walton, CIO.\u00a0\u201cWe had unsuccessfully tried to use EMC, Dell, and NetApp storage on blade servers, but kept running into high latency issues, especially as users logged into their sessions.\u201d\nAfter initial successes with VDI, county officials began to consider using the Nutanix HCI platform for all of its virtual workloads. \u201cThe timing was perfect, as we were starting to virtualize more and more workloads,\u201d Walton says.\nIn the last two years, the county has moved all its heavier workloads running Microsoft SQL and Oracle to dedicated Nutanix clusters. Most recently, it moved its countywide voice-over-IP implementation to two dedicated Nutanix clusters running Avaya Aura on VMware ESXi.\nThere have been \u201cconstant improvements on every level\u201d with HCI, Walton says.\u00a0\u201cShortly after we adopted Nutanix, they came out with one-click software upgrades. Through their HTML5 interface, we can upgrade every element of our virtual stack\u2014disk firmware, BIOS, Nutanix AOS, Nutanix health check and VMware ESXi\u2014with zero downtime and almost zero interaction.\u201d\nSan Mateo has already converted 99% of its Oracle and MS SQL applications to the HCI environment. It is also leveraging Nutanix\u2019s Protection Domain replication service for remote sites to provide high availability within county data centers, Walton says.\nWith HCI, \u201cinstead of spending all our time reacting to problems and resource constraints, we now have the time to research smart technology choices for the county,\u201d Walton says.\u00a0\u201cAdditionally, we no longer must rely on a small group of SMEs [subject matter experts] to provide expertise around storage and servers, as Nutanix takes care of it for us.\u201d\nCounty residents who rely on a variety of services have also seen benefits.\u00a0\u201cThey don\u2019t know or care what we run on, they just know it is fast and has had almost zero downtime in five-plus years,\u201d Walton says.\nHyperconvergence market trends\nDemand for HCI and for data center convergence in general is on the rise. A recent report by research firm IDC shows that worldwide converged systems market revenue increased 10% year over year to $3.5 billion during the second quarter of 2018.\nHCI products helped to drive second quarter market expansion, the study said, thanks in part to their ability to reduce infrastructure complexity, promote consolidation, and allow IT teams to support an organization's business objectives.\nRevenue from hyperconverged systems sales grew 78% year over year during the second quarter, generating $1.5 billion worth of sales. This amounted to 41% of the total converged systems market, the report said.\nIDC provides two ways to rank technology suppliers within the hyperconverged systems market, in terms of market share. One is by the brand of the hyperconverged platform and the other is by the owner of the software providing the core hyperconverged capabilities.\nFor brand, those with the highest share are Dell, Nutanix, Cisco, and HPE. In terms of HCI software, the leaders are Nutanix, VMware, Dell, Cisco, and HPE.\nAs for future developments in the hyperconvergence market, one of the growing trends is NVMe-based HCI, Lagana says.\u00a0\u201cWe\u2019re seeing flash as a major adoption driver, not just in HCI but in broader converged infrastructure and storage markets, and NVMe is the next step in that evolution,\u201d he says.