Hyper-convergence – scalable storage or OEM scam?

Storage hardware orbiting a sphere

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The era of standalone SAN storage is rapidly drawing to a close as business data needs change. The ability to create, manage and analyze vast data lakes means that an all-new approach to storage is required.

For OEMs this presents a major problem - their entire revenue model is built on selling new hardware units (and accompanying maintenance contracts). If customers are choosing to build their own vendor-agnostic platforms, the OEMs are in serious trouble.

The infinite scalability and flexibility of the cloud has shown businesses the direction they need to take with their storage strategy – helping to explain the rise in popularity of software defined storage (SDS). As a result, some vendors have released their own variants of SDS – designed to run on their own hardware infrastructure of course. Which means the OEM retains complete control of their client’s data center.

What about hyper-converged systems?

The alternative (according to OEMs) is the deployment of hyper-converged systems. By combining storage, networking and software into a tightly integrated unit, capacity can be quickly expanded by adding new units as and when required.

Each of these hyper-converged units is built to best-of-breed standards, using storage and networking components from multiple suppliers to deliver outstanding performance. Best of all, each unit simply “plugs in” to extend the infrastructure with minimal configuration or administration.

But the reality is that these new units are designed to prop up the profits of the vendors as much as they are to add flexibility to your data storage strategy.

It’s all about the profit forecast

When building a scalable data strategy to support business growth, your OEM will try and push you to a “future proof” platform they define. Although perfectly workable, these solutions will inevitably be limited according to the vendor’s roadmap – and profit forecasts. They will also limit your options and prevent you building a “true” best-of-breed platform to meet the unique needs of your business.

Adopting a vendor-agnostic software defined storage platform allows you to mix and match hardware from any vendor – and to add capacity in any way you choose. You can even redeploy existing hardware, extending its usable lifespan after it reaches post-warranty status.

It is only by breaking OEM control of your data center that you can build the truly flexible storage platform your business needs – and hyper-converged systems are simply another way for OEMs to stay in control.

For more help and advice on building a future-proof data storage system that gives you back control of your future, please get in touch