Hyperconvergence’s Biggest Risk comes from its Biggest Advantage.
Hyperconvergence IT solutions are making local cloud environments a reality for any size financial institution. Let’s start with a simple definition for Hyperconvergence. It is all of the infrastructure stack from Hypervisor down to the physical hardware needed to run a virtual environment. This includes Compute, Storage, storage networking, replication, backups, and often a bundled or supported hypervisor all from one vendor. And it’s that One vendor, having only One vendor that is the best thing and the riskiest thing about Hyperconvergence.
The benefits are real and it is a huge advantage to have One vendor.
- One vendor management tool/interface for your VM & Storage & Backup environment.
- The same vendor for storage issues
- The same vendor for compute/host issues
- The same vendor for storage networking
- The same vendor for performance issues
- The same vendor for hypervisor issues
- The same vendor for backup and replication issues
The systems are designed, supported, and upgraded through One vendor. The top Hyperconvergence vendors have engineers and support technicians certified and experienced in every aspect of the stack to help support you. It is truly One vendor to call & One throat to choke should there be issues or support needed.
Which leads me to hyperconvergence’s biggest risk. You have 1 vendor for your primary infrastructure. While vendor due diligence and vendor management gets a bad rap because of the sometimes pointless required checklists, this is the time to use your vendor skills and know your vendor risks. You can take some risk mitigation steps and for most institutions the benefits still outweigh the risks.
I will not cover all the risks and mitigation options but highlight just a few to get you started. In many ways the benefits and risks are similar to cloud vendors, but you have the big advantage of still having direct physical access to your systems at your headquarters or in your colocation data center.
Here are a few risk factors to consider:
- Your vendor is Venture Capital backed and begins running out of money:
- They then go out of business.
- Your vendor or their assets get acquired
- Your vendor infringes on patents with these fast moving technology changes which impact the services they can develop or offer.
- Service impacting events:
- Your vendor gets acquired by a larger traditional provider changing your support & service.
- Your vendor is extremely successful and goes through growing pains impacting your service levels.
Here are some common mitigation options:
- Always know your vendor’s financial position, how they access money, and growth/acquisition strategy. Set an appropriate interval for reviewing basic financials & performance.
- Know your own data migration strategy. Even if you don’t develop a full migration plan, know how data can be migrated to another system before you sign a contract. It could be as simple as exposing an NFS share to a new environment to allow storage vmotion or it could be a more complicated process. Even if your vendor is a rock star, chances are you’ll not be on their solution forever.
- Know the eco system and community surrounding the vendor. User groups are a great option to find help and support for issues during a challenging situation.
- SLAs should always be part of contracts. Companies should stand behind their claims of compression, deduplication, and service levels. A contact commitment does not guarantee good service but does encourage a company to do the right thing for you. It also opens the door for your migration to a new solution without any penalties and possibly with vendor assistance if issues can’t be resolved.
Two vendors I see pushing the Hyperconvergence pack are Simplivity and Nutanix. They have similar benefits but take different approaches and have different underlying technology used to accomplish their solutions. Even if a Hyperconvergence solution is not right for you now, they are having a significant impact on traditional SAN vendors and some of the ease of management, reporting interfaces, and benefits are starting to be built into traditional SAN vendor solutions. If you’re not following the Hyperconvergence trend, you should start today.