Converged Infrastructure. What is it and why should you care?

In an ever-changing data centre environment, business demands and IT capabilities seem to be in a race to outdo each other. As soon as technology enables a new workflow or process, users seek to exploit the new opportunities that ubiquitous connectivity, collaboration and consumerisation present.

Spare a thought for the data centre though, as it is most likely to take the brunt of the impact of diverse workloads, big data and the demand for 24/7 systems access. Just keeping up-to-date with the immediate demands of an increasingly mobile workforce can test the limits of an on-premise estate.

Cloud services are increasingly being used to bridge the performance gap between legacy capabilities and the agility demanded of a modern IT infrastructure. And, in an increasing number of cases, this is underpinned by a Converged Infrastructure (CI).

Converged Infrastructure (CI) is the name given to a pre-validated or integrated infrastructure that includes server, storage, networking and management components. In some cases, it also includes a software/application layer.

A recent report from IDG highlighted a number of key factors behind the increased adoption of CI. It pointed to a breakdown of IT silos which can often be a barrier to innovation, and emphasised the business imperatives driving adoption.

Cost was, is, and always will be a consideration in any major IT implementation. However, in the case of CI, it is the anticipated business benefits that appear to be the key driver. A more agile IT environment is the end game – one that is more responsive, more flexible and easier to manage.

This is further evidence of a trend towards line-of-business stakeholder influence within IT. In 2015, two-thirds of IT spend originated outside the IT department. Driven by business outcomes, this new form of investment sees IT becoming increasingly aligned with broader organisational objectives.

IDG reports that a third of IT equipment is currently based on CI. By the end of 2015 this was predicted to be closer to 50%. Almost half of these deployments are part of a larger cloud adoption strategy.

As CI solutions and cloud services develop in tandem and become more mature, organisations seek to maximise the potential returns of increased agility. Cloud is the ideal environment for deploying new services, as both risk and deployment times can be significantly reduced.

The consolidation and centralisation of services through CI offers, perhaps, the most appealing benefits. Economies of scale, flexibility and responsiveness aside, CI promises significant improvements in management and control.

As systems become more complex, up to 80% of internal IT resource can be spent simply keeping the lights on, so any solution that helps reduce management time is going to deliver long-term value.

The bottom line is, that as CI matures, IT is able to deliver improvements in agility and respond better to user demand across a multi-vendor estate. Organisations are able to generate value from CI almost immediately and support them on their journey to the cloud.

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