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Is Hyperconverged Infrastructure Beneficial for the SMB?

Level 11

So much in IT today is focused on the enterprise. At times, smaller organizations get left out of big enterprise data center conversations. Enterprise tools are far too expensive and usually way more than what they need to operate. Why pay more for data center technologies beyond what your organization needs? Unfortunately for some SMBs, this happens, and the ROI on the equipment they purchase never really realizes its full potential. Traditional data center infrastructure hardware and software can be complicated for an SMB to operate alone, creating further costs for professional services for configuration and deployment. This was all very true until the advent of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). So to answer the question I posed above: yes, HCI is very beneficial and well suited for most SMBs. Here's why:

1. The SMB is small- to medium-sized – Large enterprise solutions don’t suit SMBs. Aside from the issue of over-provisioning and the sheer cost of running an enterprise data center solution, SMBs just don't need those solutions. If the need for growth arises, with HCI, an organization can easily scale out according to their workloads.

2. SMBs can’t afford complexity – A traditional data center infrastructure usually involves some separation of duties and siloes. Where there are so many moving parts with different management interfaces, it can become complex to manage it all without stepping on anyone’s toes. HCI offers an all-in-one solution—storage, compute, and memory all contained in a singular chassis. HCI avoids the need for an SMB to employ a networking team, virtualization team, storage team, and more.

3. Time to market is speedy – SMBs don’t need to take months to procure, configure, and deploy a large-scale solution for their needs. Larger corporations might require a long schedule, where the SMB might not require this. HCI helps them to get to market quickly. HCI is as close to a plug-and-play data center as you can get. In some cases, depending on the vendor chosen, time to market can be down to minutes.

4. Agility, flexibility, all of the above – SMBs need to be more agile and don’t want to carry all the overhead required to run a full data center. Power, space, and cooling can be expensive when it comes to large enterprise systems. Space itself can be a very expensive commodity. Depending on the SMB’s needs, their HCI system can be trimmed down to a single rack or even a half rack. HCI is also agile in nature due to the ability to scale on demand. If workloads spike overnight, simply add another block or node to your existing HCI deployment to bring you the performance your workloads require.

5. Don’t rely on the big players – Big-name vendors for storage and compute licensing can come at a significant cost. Some HCI vendors offer proprietary and built-in hypervisor solutions included in the cost and easier to manage than an enterprise license agreement. Management software is also built in to many HCI vendor’s solutions.

HCI has given the SMB more choices when it comes to building out a data center. In the past, an SMB had to purchase licensing and hardware generally built for the large enterprise. Now they can purchase a less expensive solution with HCI. HCI offers agility, quick time to market, cost savings, and reduced complexity. These can all be pain points for an SMB, which can be solved by implementing an HCI solution. If you work for an SMB, have you found this to be true? Does HCI solve many of these problems?

8 Comments
Level 14

Thanks for the article!  I think "agility" is the key word. 

Level 13

Good post.  Thanks.  Definitely agree - before HCI you had to either do all the integration work yourself (with all the pitfalls and expertise that requires) or have someone do it for you.  Getting all those pieces in place and working properly could take months.  HCI solves that problem very effectively, quickly and reliably.  The major caveat for the SMB is making sure they don't buy more than they need.

Thanks for the article, gregwstuart and just to show my age a little, it took me a minute to realize that you were not talking about Server Management Blocks...;-)

I think, too, that with the small- to medium-business, not only are they able to deploy faster than larger counterparts but they are able to learn from their larger counterparts' mistakes more quickly as well.  One of the benefits of not having to go through a CCB or other "committee" to GSD (get, uh "stuff" done...yeah, we'll go with that!) means that you can take what you learn, modify it for your particular environment and put it into practice immediately.  Not to say that you shouldn't have processes and BPs/ITIL in play, but sometimes it takes longer to fill out the KB doc than it does to just bloody fix the problem.  Although unless you were blessed with an eidetic memory, it does help to write things down...trust me on that one! 😄

MVP
MVP

Got me thinking .. I am grateful to have worked with a great sales engineer - (I keep forgetting that he is in sales .. as he deployed the solution as well!!!) - Having someone on the outside that truly understands and cares about your business is critical when you are planning for the here and now, along with the future.     "Now (I) they can purchase a less expensive solution with HCI. HCI offers agility, quick time to market, cost savings, and reduced complexity. These can all be pain points for an SMB, which can be solved by implementing an HCI solution." - love it!!!!

Good concise information gregwstuart - you have provoked thought !!!

Level 12

For small businesses I think PAAS is an excellent choice. Not needing your own servers, not worrying about your own backups, and the ease of remote access simplify the job for IT reducing the cost of on-site or outsourced support. I don't quite understand HCI well enough to know if PAAS can be part of HCI or not, but it sounds like HCI is mostly on site so the answer would be no.

MVP
MVP

Thanks for the article!

Level 16

Thanks for the write up.

Level 14

I see it a bit different.  Previously I have put in an HCI solution for a client which was made over complicated because it was HCI (OK Dell didn't help).  I'm in the middle of specing a standalone server room for a new site we are creating.  30+ users creating audio and video content but isolated from our main network.  Two server racks in a converted storeroom with a couple of HP pizza boxes running VMWare, a NAS for data and some specialised voice and video kit.  Very simple, very easy and quite cheap.  I can add extra servers or add memory, CPU and disk if required. 

I'm also specing an Infrastructure refresh for our main server room.  Very similar to the above but with a lot more of everything.  I looked at HCI but it was so expensive and there were no real benefits.  Cloud isn't an option for any of this.