If you are a project manager in the IT space you’ve probably come across the terms converged infrastructure, and hyperconverged appliance, which both essentially mean taking storage, compute and networking, and putting them together to be managed by a single interface. As many of our customers are thinking about it in some way, shape, or form, I decided to put a few thoughts on paper that come from the project managers perspective. This blog is intended to help project managers gain an understanding of how converged and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) can impact data center project metrics. In the sections below I’ll define a few traditional project management metrics and explain how converged and hyperconverged infrastructure can affect these metrics. Again, I want to reiterate that this blog focuses on project management and is not intended to make you an expert on convergence or hyperconvergence infrastructure.
Key Project Management Metrics
As a project manager working in the IT infrastructure space what are some metrics that you care about most?
- Simplify Operations/Reduce complexity. A key aspect of converged infrastructure is that it’s managed and maintained from a single software administrative interface. Having a single interface to manage your compute, networking and storage systems makes provisioning these resources less complex. Based on this, it seems that with converged infrastructure, you can have an infrastructure admin, or application admin provisioning the resources rather than the three separate specialized resources. Complexity is further reduced when you need to resolve production issues. When a support ticket is opened, vendors will work together for a resolution rather than pointing the customer to the network vendor, storage vendor or the server vendor.
- Reduce risk. Converged infrastructure can be less risky than traditional 3-tier infrastructure because the solution is pre-validated by the vendors who individually make compute, network and storage. Your administrators are not spending time figuring out whether hardware and software components are compatible with each other. Some examples are HCI appliances such as Dell EMC VxRail, which includes VMware software running on a Dell server. Or NetApp Flexpod which is validated by Cisco and NetApp. Flexpod consists of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers with Fabric Interconnects, Cisco Nexus Switches, and NetApp storage.
- Resource/Cost Management. Many converged/HCI vendors will tell you that their products will save you money. And they can. However, this depends on whether or not you already have full-time technical resources with expertise in managing servers, network and storage systems. Many smaller IT organizations do not have dedicated technical experts whose daily job is to focus on these areas. Therefore, they reap a greater cost savings in choosing converged over traditional 3-tier architectures.
IT Project managers should continue developing their knowledge and key technologies to look into are converged and hyperconverged infrastructure. These tools can impact your data center projects and should be further researched before making the decision to implement any of them. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or share some of your experience managing similar projects. We can assist in several ways ranging from managing data center projects to assessing technology through the use of our state-of-the-art lab environment.