How hyper-converged systems differ from converged systems

Hyper-converged systems take this concept of convergence to the next level. While converged systems are separate components engineered to work well together, hyper-converged systems are modular systems designed to scale out by adding additional modules. These systems are mainly designed around storage and compute on a single x86 server chassis interconnected by 10 GB Ethernet. At first blush, this just sounds like a server with a bunch of storage. From a physical perspective, this is accurate; as a matter of fact, VMware’s VSAN software takes advantage of a very similar architecture. We’ll talk about this more in a bit.

The differences between a hyper-converged system and servers with a bunch of disks are engineering and software. Hyper-converged solutions leverage improvements at the storage controller software layer to allow these systems to scale out. The more appliances you add, the greater the performance and capacity. Instead of scaling up by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs, you scale out by adding more appliance modules.

In addition to the simplified architecture, there’s a simplified administration model. The hyper-converged systems are managed via “a single pane of glass.” Instead of having a set of applications and a team to manage your storage array, a team to manage virtualization, and a team to manage the server hardware, one team (or in some environments one person) can manage the complete hyper-converged stack.