What are the Trade-offs with Converged Infrastructure

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At CiscoLive 2014 in Milan I spoke to Alan Gerrish, Consulting Systems Engineer at Cisco to find out what trade-offs customers might expect as they make a move to using converged infrastructure. Alan explained that the traditional way of deploying IT equipment is to select key components, test them both as hardware and then that the software applications work as they need to.

This approach takes time and can bring scalability issues in terms of differing component choices for different projects along the manpower required to test and configure hardware each time. Solutions like FlexPod and FlexPod Express with Schneider Electric provide pre-tested and pre-built hardware stacks that remove the need for the hardware testing as it’s been done prior to delivery to customers and thus releases the resource burden in getting hardware ready for deployments. The resource burden includes both time and manpower.

The trade-off of this approach is that a pre-configured solution perhaps removes some of the customers’ ability to create bespoke combinations of hardware for specific deployments. For some customers that’s a trade-off, for some it’s a benefit of converged infrastructure – perhaps it depends on each organisations perspective.  Alan explained that Converged Infrastructure is now taking around 20% of sales, is growing fast after only being on the market a few years and that customers are embracing the benefits of Cisco and NetApp doing the hardware testing and validation for them.

Time to market is a further key benefit of converged solutions. Customer feedback about how FlexPod and Flexpod Express with Schneider Electric solutions have been of benefit made heavy mention of reduced time to deliver deployments.

Alan also discussed how these cross-vendor, converged solutions are an ideal method for stepping towards a cloud environment, whether it be private, public or hybrid. FlexPod with Schneider Electric is a perfect delivery mechanism for building cloud solutions. However, it’s use is not restricted to cloud applications, it can equally be applied for converged or virtualised stacks. Software can also be overlaid with the physical equipment to deliver a fully integrated solution.

With that in mind I asked Alan how Cisco, NetApp or Schneider Electric could help customers deploy a full solution and he said it could be anything up to fully turnkey depending on how much time and staffing a customer had to focus on the project themselves. Cisco and their partners could deliver the full project or simply aspects of it. The customer could download and use reference designs if they wished – depending on how much time they had to invest in it. If they chose a converged solution it can be delivered as a tested, configured and scalable solution to deploy as and when they need it within their business.