Hyper-:  a prefix meaning “over,” usually implying excess or exaggeration.

Converged:  the past tense of a verb meaning the tendency to meet in a point. Two or more things inclining toward one another.

Based on the above, hyperconverged could be defined as an excessive coming together of two or more things.  In technology, hyperconverged is a marketing term used for infrastructure that represents a coming together of components.  But not necessarily an excessive one.  Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is often described as the combination of compute, network and storage on scalable commodity hardware supported by a single vendor.  Most of today’s hyperconverged platforms, however, are just a combination of legacy tools in a manner that provides some level of simplification.  Unfortunately, this combination of tools does not equate to “excessive” convergence and in most cases does not produce any significant simplification.  Very few offer single vendor support.

After reviewing the implementation, configuration and management of many HCI offerings, I was a bit disappointed.  My expectation was an exaggerated simplification of administrative processes.  Including a setup process that was intuitive enough for a novice to walk through by answering a few simple questions, quick access to most of the daily functions required to manage the infrastructure, and a monitoring interface that learned trends in the environment and proactively alerted.  All of these functions should be wizard driven and interactive, providing guidance for problem resolution.  What I found was bolt-on storage virtualization, added to existing server virtualization technologies.  These were often, but not always, paired with a modular (node or blade-based) hardware platform.  Most of the complexity we have managed for the past 10+ years still exists.  Multiple vendors are still required to support them effectively.  Interoperability challenges are still present.  Repetitive tasks are still very time consuming and manual.  Integration that should exist, does not.

HCI platforms are becoming popular for private cloud implementations; specifically, around Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments, small office infrastructure and test/dev environments.  These environments (in my experience) are respectively owned by desktop support, smaller IT teams and developers.  An exaggerated simplification would benefit these groups immensely.  The benefit of HCI should be a major (read: excessive) reduction in administrative overhead due to the combination (read: convergence) of hardware, software and support.  From what I have seen so far, most HCI solutions fall well short.

Part 2:  Enough negativity!  What are the benefits of HCI?