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What is the difference between converged and hyper-converged infrastructure?

Rony_Sklar - PeerSpot reviewer
Community Manager at PeerSpot (formerly IT Central Station)

From my own research, it seems that Converged Infrastructure relies on hardware, whereas Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is software-based. What does this mean in practical terms? What are the pros and cons of each?

PeerSpot user
1112 Answers

DavidRoy - PeerSpot reviewer

The more we try to define these items, the more variability to these definitions seems to exist. In a general sense, I like to classify as such:

"Converged" as infrastructure from one or more vendors that have a defined "cookbook" for integration of the systems to a simplified and supported platform for use.  These solutions help reduce the implementation and operational complexity and risks for the END CLIENT by providing a supported platform where the solution will work together, with known and pretested and qualified configurations.  These solutions can also, when multiple vendors are involved, simplify support options with a single support interface being provided by a vendor.  These solutions were among the first in the market where vendors were providing full stacks, and even multiple vendors provided stacks from which customers can build and utilize.

"Hyper-Converged" solutions attempt to increase the level of integration and simplification for the end client, and have TYPICALLY done so using the convergence of technology stacks such as storage arrays with compute platforms through software defines storage solutions. These solutions also will include a mandatory hypervisor for deployment - to allow the use of software-defined solutions to coexist on the platform.  This terminology is perhaps driven more by the different vendors, as a method to distinguish the software-defined platforms, and you can see a wide variety of solutions in this classification.   Cisco has Hyperflex, VMware have their various VSAN-enabled stacks, and Nutanix sells an HCI platform across multiple vendors. HP have defined a new "HCI" called a "dHCI" which appears to be a Converged Platform with various aspects of an HCI management plane.

In the end - worry less about the terminology used, and look to the value you get.  The costs will typically align with SIMPLE=expensive to buy, COMPLEX=expensive to operate....  find the place in the middle that works for your organization, and the level of capabilities you have and want to maintain in-house.   With the massive move to cloud technologies, infrastructure will quickly become a harder skill to find in young employees, but for the next decade, these issues will not be as prevalent.

As always - these are my own opinions, and your mileage may vary!

Raul Gomez - PeerSpot reviewer

(English version)

Converged infrastructure is basically a traditional infrastructure that has been preconfigured and integrated to ensure its functionality and accelerate its implementation.

Hyperconverged infrastructure is an infrastructure in which the computing, storage, and networking components are already virtualized and presented as clusters, allocating resources to each environment by the administrator without having to make changes to the physical hardware.


(Original version)

La infraestructura convergente es básicamente una infraestructura tradicional que ha sido preconfigurada e integrada para asegurar su funcionalidad y acelerar su implementación.

La infraestructura hiperconvergente es una infraestructura en la que los componentes de procesamiento, almacenamiento y redes ya están virtualizados y se presentan como clústeres, asignando recursos a cada entorno por parte del administrador sin tener que realizar cambios en el hardware físico.

MemphisGuy - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 5User

@Dan Reynolds
 gave a great answer.  

Most of it is marketing hype. So you have to dig in to the terms in every case to figure out what that term means to that vendor.  I think of it as "converged" is a virtualized solution with computing, storage, and networking on different hardware and "hyper-converged" is a virtualized solution with computing and storage (and possibly networking) on the same physical hardware.  

So if you have a hypervisor on a server with SAN storage on a different server, you're "converged", but if you put the SAN storage in the same server, you're "hyper-converged".  I actually try not to use the terms since they are ambiguous.

reviewer1058013 - PeerSpot reviewer
Real User


A converged architecture is a set of server and network storage components validated by the manufacturer, usually pre-integrated,pre-wired in racks at the factory. the updates of these architectures are done by validated packages and do not require a revalidation of all the compatibility matrices, this work is provided by the manufacturer to ensure the proper functioning of the whole (ex VBloc, VxBloc DELL-EMC) 

A hyperconverged architecture is an architecture reserved for virtualized environments. It is composed of servers and switchs with particular characteristics (DCB, for a correct operation of the storage ). In this architecture, there is no storage array. The disks present in the servers are used, virtualized and aggregated in a global volume by a layer of SDS. the data is secured by writing it on several nodes, The whole is administered by a unique console.(ex : Nutanix,VSAN,Simplivity..)

Hyperconverged architectures are suitable when the environment is balanced in terms of storage and compute, the evolution is done by adding nodes

in a converged environment, we can grow compute and storage separately

have a nice day

best regards

MemphisGuy - PeerSpot reviewerMemphisGuy
Top 5User

@reviewer1058013 says "in a converged environment, we can grow compute and storage separately"
This is a key differentiator, IMHO.  It is also the reason I disagree with those who say hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is less expensive. With HCI, in order to upgrade compute capability, I have to also affect storage and possibly networking because they are all in the same box.  With a non-HCI environment, I can upgrade compute without affecting storage by replacing hypervisor hosts but using the same storage, or vice versa.

Dan Reynolds - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 5Real User

Well 99% of those terms are marketing. Typically when a vendor asks - are you converged or do you have a hyper-converged infrastructure it is about hardware. But you have it backwards. Typically HCI is a "packaged" solution. It is the compute, storage & networking in one "box" (or rack or whatever). It is not only designed to work together, it's sold that way. 

Converged infrastructure is more do-it-yourself. You pick and design the compute, the storage and the networking to work together, sort of best breed for the money. I know at least in small scales - like for small-medium businesses - HCI is typically much more expensive. At least that has been my experience. I can put together a better solution for less money. 

Both of these terms are almost exclusively used in the virtual machine world, doesn't apply to "traditional" data center. 

The other term that you will see used with these two terms is software defined data center. That's marketing speak for when you use virtual networking and storage - for example in the VMworld virtual switches with vSphere and NSX. Storage can be virtualized with VMware's VSAN product or 3rd party products like StarWind VSAN (that's what I use). 

To put this all in perspective from my perspective: I have a 3-node cluster made up of (3) HPE DL-380's, with 60 disks spread across those (3) nodes being managed and presented to VMware through StarWind VSAN. Inside VMware I have virtual distributed switches & virtual networks setup. Physically there are several network cards in each server - teamed - and going to the appropriate physical switches on the physical segments of the network. According to what we've said above that would be a "software defined data center" running in a converged infrastructure. Again, most of this is marketing speak but it does help to define what's going on.

Norman Allen - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 20Real User

A Converged Infrastructure has more hardware.  Compute is on one set of hardware.  Storage is on another set of direct-attached (or other) hardware.  Networking is separated, too.

In a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Compute and Storage are on the same hardware, and depending on the complexity of the solution, sometimes Networking isn't even needed because you can directly connect the nodes to each other if you only have 2 nodes.  Adding nodes is as simple as duplicating the hardware and scaling up or out, accordingly.   

A Hyper-Converged Infrastructure requires less hardware and gives you a more simplified solution.  It is also less expensive to procure, operate and maintain.   

it_user567912 - PeerSpot reviewer

Also in a converged infrastructure software is important. Converged for me is a combination of hardware components that are sold as a single solution and where a software layer is added to make the management easier. But the hardware solution consists mostly from individual server, storage and networking components.
Most hyperconverged solutions goes further with integrating the storage layer into the server layer, removing a layer of hardware, and where the software inside the solution create a shared storage pool for the server stack. Automatically the management layer is also simplified just as with the converged solution... Less hardware (or differently used) and more software inside... I call it more a typical evolution of IT infrastructure... Know that converged and hyperconverged is a marketing thing and not really a product as such... I saw converged and hyperconverged solutions already 20 years ago before it even existed... Just look for what you need and pick the right solution... 

Rahul Ghalwadkar - PeerSpot reviewer

Yes, you are right, as converged system is mainly hardware-based and HCI is a software solution.

However, Converged System is preconfigured, prevalidated and certified solution for each application. And is available from HPE, Cisco, and other vendors. Converged System is a combination of compute, storage, networking and hypervisor. Also, you have a choice of vendors in a configuration like servers you can buy from HPE, networking you can buy from Cisco, etc.

Whereas HCI is a software-based solution in which each vendor has different solution like HPE Simplivity, Nutanix or vSAN, etc. HCI is combination of 4 or more technologies/products, like compute, storage, hypervisor and networking, in one solution. The choice of a converged system or HCI depends upon the application and customer choice. As there are many pros and cons for both the solutions.

ArchiSolut677 - PeerSpot reviewer

Converged Architecture is a cohesive combination of hardware (compute, network and storage) and software (virtualisation, bare-metal OS) that is managed centrally but typlically at the element level.  This is avavailble as a turn-key solution from a single vendor or as a refernence architecture where the Customer has a greater responsibity in defining what they want.

Hyper-converged architecture is still managed centrally but through the virtualisation element only.  Compute and storage elements are typically consolidated with multiple units becoming the platform.  This consolidation simplifies the design/deployment but expansion of one element usually means the other may also be unnecessaily expanded.

A newer architecture dHCI (disaggregated HCI) separates the compute and storage reducing the expansion issues of the original HCI systems.

Converged Architecture is more flexible and less system resources are used in system operation whereas HCI is simpler to operate.

ROBIN JACKSON - PeerSpot reviewer

In principle you’re right “Converged Infrastructure relies on hardware, whereas Hyper-Converged Infrastructure is software-based”. But there are further advances for software management of containers, VMs, storage, and networks within a single architecture.

As a Red Hat partner, we are aware of coming developments based on Red Hat OpenShift which significantly simplify operations and provide complete management and portability across On-Prem, Hybrid, and Multi-Cloud environments.

German Infante - PeerSpot reviewer
Top 5Reseller

The basic answers:

Converged is an infrastructure where you can configure all components like compute, storage boxes, load balancers connectivity glued by a software component that can show and admin al them as one.

Hyperconverged takes all those components and compresses all that functionality in just one box (server with storage and all software ) with software-defined infrastructure than can glue several of those all in one boxes to accomplish the scalability requirements. But remember HCI is not for all kinds of apps.

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