As usual, a conversation with my internal team generates a new post. Standard disclaimer applies here, and always interested in feedback.
Hyper converged is the concept that everything is virtualized within a platform, and the complexity is hidden by the software. The problem is the complexity is being hidden by the software.
In enterprise IT there are two groups, the technologists, and the “business”. We all know that IT needs to become more effecient, and move to a service provider model. If you have read Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch http://www.amazon.com/Big-Switch-Rewiring-Edison-Google-ebook/dp/B00421BN0Y/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=, you understand that we are rapidly moving toward ITaaS. For users and business people, this can’t come quickly enough. For those of us who grew up in Enterprise IT and consulting roles, we are busy building out our home labs so we have even more access to really cool technology. For most of us who are still enamored with the pure technology, this concept of hiding the complexity is an anathema. Many of us have made our careers from hiding the complexity from users, being the easy button if you will.
The concept behind the vBlock, the Flex Pod, and HP’s Converged Infrastructure division was not to release a new product. If you look at all three products, they are simply several products with some management software, wrapped with services to make them look simple. If you look at Nutanix, Simplivity, or VMware’s EVO, they use software to simplify what is a fairly complex system. For the admin they remove some of the complexity, and don’t require nearly as much design time, you pay more but you save on soft costs such as internal employee or external consultants time. In a sense any of the solutions could be an enterprise easy button, if you are willing to commit to their vision.
The real problem here is twofold. First of all, the solutions aren’t really that simple. If they were, you wouldn’t need the level of services they are selling you. If it is that simple, the you should wheel it in, plug it into the power and network, and fire your IT department. I have never met any customer deploying hyper converged getting rid of the IT department. We don’t see some intern running the entire IT department in most customers. The second issue is that we are in a transition phase from traditional web/app/database applications to cloud native applications. Certainly we will never completly remove all legacy applications, but we are seeing more demand for simpler and more accesible applicaitons.
The reality is that hyper converged, and converged infrastructure in general is a step to get us to a fully Software Defined Enterprise. At some point, converged infrastructure won’t be necessary because we will handle everything in software running on comodity hardware. When we finally get to this point, we will no longer need to overlay software with more software to solve the complexities created by the software. This is certainly an industry wide issue, and solving it is going to end some business and launch others.