6 Signs That HCI Is Maturing
The market for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appears to be entering into a new phase of market maturity that the industry research firm Gartner Inc. would call “Slope of Enlightenment.” This means that this technology has developed a proven track record of success in many places and is supporting many different workloads.
The term “Hype Cycle,” by the way, is a graphic representation of the growth and evolution of a specific technology or market that Gartner uses as part of its industry research.
The Hype Cycle
Let’s quickly review the concept of a Hype Cycle before considering industry events that are evidence of the emergence of HCI as a mature approach to IT solutions.
The firm’s model of market acceptance includes the following steps or phases:
- Innovation Trigger — A technological innovation or breakthrough kicks off market interest. Often this phase is based on information coming from proof-of-concept reports, news about patents being granted and the like; but not upon real, commercially available products.
- Peak of Inflated Expectations — By this stage, early success stories appear in the media, and enterprise decision makers become excited by the possibilities this new approach could offer. Many times these same decision makers ignore or never discover early failures.
- Trough of Disillusionment — As the results of internal proof-of-concept tests or publicized failures of this solution become known, industry interest wanes. As a result, producers of the technology either build better solutions or fail.
- Slope of Enlightenment — At this stage, success stories helping enterprises see where the solution really fits emerge. Second- and third-generation products appear. More enterprises fund projects based on this solution.
- Plateau of Productivity — The solution enters into the mainstream and adoption increases. Where and how this solution can be applied are clear, and the tools necessary to evaluate, install, administer, and operate the solution are readily available.
Here’s some of the evidence that HCI has matured to the “Slope of Enlightenment” phase of the cycle.
Integration with IT Service Management Frameworks
If we briefly survey the market, it’s clear that major IT suppliers of hardware, software, and professional services have incorporated HCI into their product portfolios.
Dell, Lenovo, HPE, IBM and many others are now offering second- and third-generation HCI solutions. Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware and many others are offering software products that have been tested with the hardware solutions being offered and now support them.
Suppliers of HCI hardware and software are now offering HCI-focused consulting and integration services.
Increased Support of Functional Intelligence
HCI solutions have evolved beyond the requirement that the central processing function be heavily involved in every support function. Intelligent networking and storage functions are increasingly available in HCI environments.
Storage virtualization products from DataCore, Microsoft, VMware and others are now available to support data compression, de-duplication, auto-tiering and the like.
HCI systems are now interoperable with network virtualization capabilities offered by Cisco, Juniper, and others.
Integration with DevOps/Rapid Development Methodologies
Suppliers of rapid application development/DevOps tools are now offering products that have been tested and are known to work well with major HCI solutions, making the adoption of these solutions easier. The applications created with these enhanced tools make more optimal use of HCI systems.
Enterprise App Integration
Suppliers of enterprise applications are now offering features that simplify the installation, support, and ongoing operations of their products in an HCI-based environment. In addition, they’re offering management tools that better integrate into the management tools offered by the HCI suppliers.
HCI suppliers have established tools for system management, administration, network management, and storage management that integrate into major frameworks available today. This demonstrates that HCI is coming of age as an enterprise-grade tool.
Suppliers of virtualization technology have also certified and support HCI-based installations based on their technology.
Enhanced Hypervisor Support
Depending on the supplier of HCI-based solutions, virtual machine software/hypervisors (Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere) and open source virtual machine software technology (KVM and Xen) are now supported.
It’s become clear that HCI has established itself as a viable tool for enterprises. The technology is maturing, and suppliers of hardware, software, and professional services are responding with products.
Enterprise decision makers would be wise to consider these products when it’s time to upgrade today’s solutions, or when it’s time to develop entirely new applications.