Now You're Talking: How Converged Infrastructure Has Changed The Channel Conversation


The phrase "having one throat to choke" is a grim way to describe the ideal of having a single contact when it comes to purchasing IT and, even more importantly, getting support when problems occur.

Increasingly, getting that single-contact holy grail of IT simplification means turning toward the adoption of converged infrastructure.

Converged infrastructure, also known as "integrated systems" by research firm Gartner or "integrated infrastructure" by research firm IDC, refers to the tying together of server, storage, networking, virtualization and sometimes other resources into an integrated solution to give businesses a way to manage those resources as a whole rather than through separate management systems.

[Related: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: So Many New Solutions Coming]

A more recent subset of converged infrastructure, known as hyper-converged infrastructure, is similar except that the compute, storage, networking and other resources are packaged as a single software package that runs on commodity x86-based servers.

The modern concept of converged infrastructure first started being defined in mid-2009 with the founding of a coalition between EMC, VMware and Cisco Systems that eventually became the company VCE. However, the industry has in the past couple of years quickly grown as customers and solution providers started understanding the benefit of letting vendors design and test various combinations of server, storage, networking and virtualization resources before offering them as either prebuilt solutions or as reference architectures that allowed others to deploy them according to plan.

Gartner in June estimated the market for integrated systems, which includes single-vendor and multivendor converged infrastructures and hyper-converged infrastructures, will grow more than 50 percent in 2014 over 2013 to reach $6 billion.

Accelerating the growth of the converged infrastructure market compared to the IT business as a whole are improved performance, perceived lower operating expenditures, greater IT optimization, increased automation and simplified sourcing, Gartner wrote in the report.

THE CONVERGED INFRASTRUCTURE MENTALITY

For the channel, talking to customers about converged infrastructure requires a shift in mentality away from the idea of finding the best possible components toward understanding that good can be good enough, said Brett Anderson, director of cloud and data center solutions at Logicalis, a New York-based solution provider.

"For years, partners like us reinforced the message that we are the geeks, the ‘MacGyvers,’ who understand the products better than everyone," he said. "We can not only build the kitchen, we choose the lumber. How many times have you heard someone say with pride, 'If I get hit by a bus, my company would die?' "

That conversation changes with converged infrastructure, Anderson said. "With converged infrastructure, we're saying, 'The hardware is good enough,' " he said. "Don't focus on the hardware. Focus on the speed to use and performance. Don't worry your pretty little head over the details."

NEXT: Converged Infrastructure vs. Best Of Breed