Converged Infrastructure: The Foundation for Inclusive IT Growth

Som Satsangi points out how converged infrastructure is the new approach to designing IT, as it allows organisations to expand IT infrastructure when the volume is high and shrink it when it’s not – making it elastic in nature. Convergence is the catalyst to unleash the full potential of virtualisation, private and public clouds. Through its power and cooling efficiency, it is also a catalyst for Green IT

01 April, 2010 Opinion, Infrastructure
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Som Satsangi, Director, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, HP India

India, in the last decade has seen rapid growth in all sectors of the economy fuelled by numerous government initiatives. As we go into the next decade, technology is expected to be a key enabler to sustain this engine of growth. The government has initiated numerous IT investments and projects to enhance governance, improve transparency and effectiveness. This is even as IT penetration in the country is expected to rapidly increase. All this is great, but let’s take a step back and ask ourselves whether we have the right infrastructure to sustain this rapid growth.

First, like with other projects, rapid growth puts pressure on infrastructure readiness and availability. Like in the case of roads, public utility and services, it is not easy to suddenly expand the existing infrastructure to deliver more. A road cannot expand or grow wider when there is a huge volume of traffic and shrink when there is no traffic. Similarly, today’s technology has the same challenges. For all the innovations of the last 10 years, the typical data centre is still one of the past: racked, stacked and wired. When there is rapid growth, technology is not able to scale up to meet organisational demands. Today’s infrastructure is not built to be elastic in nature.

Converged Infrastructure is the new approach to designing IT. It is ideal for governments and agencies. Unlike conventional architectures, it allows organisations to expand IT Infrastructure when the volume is high and shrink when it’s not, making it elastic in nature.

The second challenge is how quickly can governments roll out new citizen services. For e.g., if the government wants to launch a new website service, it will mean procuring new resources – servers, storage and networking followed by a complex implementation that can take weeks or months. In an era when governments and agencies are trying to rapidly transform citizen services, this can cause severe delays.

Finally and more critically, if India has to move to a digital society, supported by traditional data centres, it will imply a power consumption of about 1 million MW, with an assumption of 10 per cent penetration of internet and 1 W of electricity consumption per person for internet usage. This is clearly not a sustainable option.

The Need of the Hour: A New Architecture Approach

Converged infrastructure is a new approach to designing IT. Unlike conventional architectures, it allows one to expand IT Infrastructure when the volume is high and shrink when it is not, making it elastic in nature. It allows one to deliver new services in minutes rather than months. And, it vastly improves energy efficiency. It breaks the technology silos that have led to overprovisioned, under-utilised, difficult to manage and costly data centre environments. To reap the full potential, organisations need to move beyond the server virtualisation to virtualising the entire infrastructure – servers, storage, networking and even power and cooling. By virtualising storage, server and networking solutions, these can all be available as a ‘cloud’ of shared resources and can be used by different entities as needed.

HP’s converged Infrastructure integrates silos of compute, storage, network, power and cooling into pools of resources that can be shared, divided, assembled and changed to dynamically align with any business, workload or application needs. Through unified management, it delivers a highly virtualised and automated technology environment that can be configured on the fly – making it agile and flexible to change.

The HP Converged Infrastructure eliminates technology silos and complexity in the data centre while leveraging current technology investments. Through unified management, all assets become part of a resource pool that can be divided, assembled and changed to dynamically align with any business, workload or application needs.

More importantly, it makes a better connection between the power being consumed and the work being performed. Additionally, users no longer have to worry about the capital cost, which includes the life-cycle cost of operating the infrastructure. This includes the operating system licence, power, cooling, maintainence, support, technology upgrade and vendor switching costs. Techniques such as cloud computing can not only lower power and cooling costs but also the recurring licence costs of managing these servers.

The HP converged infrastructure strategy, portfolio, and unique and proven architectural framework helps one to effectively align IT supply to better meet business demand. This is achieved by creating an environment in which resources are dynamically provisioned efficiently and automatically. Based on modular system design and open standards, one can then take one’s current investments into the future. And by transitioning away from the traditional, product-centric approach to a model that manages IT infrastructure as a service, one can accelerate standardisation, reduce operational costs and deliver better business results.

Som Satsangi

The HP converged infrastructure is delivered through a next-generation IT architecture – based on standards – that ‘converges’ virtualised compute, storage and networks with facilities into a single shared-services environment optimised for any workload. This unique approach help one’s business accelerate the delivery of application environments in a predictable, repeatable way that makes the most efficient use of IT, facility and staff resources, driving business innovation. The HP service aims to help customers transition from isolated product-centric technologies to a more flexible converged infrastructure. The new services leverage HP’s experience in shared services, cloud computing, and data centre transformation projects to let customers design, test and implement scalable infrastructures.

The HP solution can be compared to a power grid, where all the resources are pooled together. Users can then draw power as per demand without being concerned about where it is coming from. Likewise, the power grid can also allocate more power or less power to a certain area based on the criticality of requirement.

The HP converged infrastructure also comes with a broad set of application templates that let customers provision complete and appropriately sized application infrastructures for specific applications. So by just defining the number of users, one can provision infrastructure for services in minutes. It also allows users to automatically balance infrastructure for peak, medium and low demands.

This can be ideal for governments and agencies. For example, the income tax department where during the end of the year, there is peak demand for the income tax website, as more and more users try to submit claims and use its services. With converged infrastructure, you could actually provision more infrastructures for peak periods in March and April, and return the resources back into the pool for the rest of the year, thus optimising the infrastructure used. This can be also done by the hour of the day. For example, a government healthcare portal can be automatically provisioned with more resources between 9 am to 3 pm.

In a rapidly evolving marketplace, the time to market or time of application value is critical. It is the ability to get Infrastructure and application up and running to meet new demands or a new service in the market that requires a technology that enables one to be agile and change when markets change. In Earlier, if one wanted to build an application, one needed a server, storage and networking resources and then time to implement and install it together.

Convergence of Infrastructure allows customers to significantly minimise this time to deployment. It integrates existing silos of compute, storage, network and facility resources with unified management to deliver a virtualised, highly-automated technology environment that can be configured on the fly and making IT agile and flexible to business change.

Convergence is the catalyst to unleash the full potential of virtualisation, private and public clouds. Through its power and cooling efficiency, it is also a catalyst for Green IT.

In a state data centre or large projects, the governments can leverage a converged infrastructure architecture that depends upon a central pool of resources. These resources can then be used for appropriate applications, such as egovernance, e-portals, education, health, G2B, G2C and G2G services, based on demand and criticality of the application. Governments can also add a charge back mechanism to the users based on their IT usage. It can also deliver new services on the fly, without having to build separate infrastructure resources for each and going through long implementation processes.

Energy availability is a challenge. The HP converged infrastructure also delivers improved power efficiency through the HP Data Centre Smart Grid. The Data Centre Smart Grid delivers an intelligent, energyaware environment across technology infrastructures and facilities. For the first time, organisations can accurately visualise, monitor and control energy use in real time. With HP Data Centre Smart Grid, governments can set policies for energy use based on accurate data and monitor their ongoing performance to ensure compliance with internal, environmental or government regulations and goals.

As we step into the next decade, the convergence of infrastructure will play a role and will define the way infrastructure is consumed. Analysts also echo the same. IDC in its 2010 top 10 predictions for the Asia-Pacific marketplace (excluding Japan), points out that “converged fabric and evolving data centres will be centre-pieces of transformation”.

To summarise, in a country like India, it is often very difficult to service the last man in the queue, as technology cost becomes prohibitive. Converged Infrastructure, vastly decreases the per transaction cost bringing down IT costs and making it more affordable for poor. More importantly as we embark on new IT initiatives, it becomes essential to choose a technology that sustains this rapid growth which we are going to see.

Converged infrastructure can help one unleash the full potential of infrastructure, virtualisation, private and public clouds. Through its power and cooling efficiency, it will become a catalyst for a ‘Green’ lifestyle.

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