Yes, I’ve bought my last server. My route is a converged infrastructure from here on out. Single use servers are a thing of the past.

An age old rule has been…never buy your wife an appliance for her birthday.  That rule still applies today, unless she happens to work in I.T.  The emergence of purpose designed systems all contained in a single rack, chassis, or even node has changed the economics of deploying solutions in I.T.  Most companies today employ unique resources designed to support either the network, the server farm, or the storage environment.  Converged or integrated systems are changing this dynamic wildly .  In IDC’s 3Q 2013 Worldwide Quarterly Integrated Infrastructure and Platforms Tracker IDC reported a surge of 68.5% year over year growth in the marketplace – accounting for $1.4 billion in sales!

The idea that you can fine-tune your virtualized environment to meet the unique needs of each new workload has started to wear thin on many departments.  Cisco UCS emerged as a leader in this space and made a name for itself by deploying their PBX solution “in a box”  That box happens to be their converged system called UCS.  Others have followed building purpose built systems for VDI, backup, analytics, DR, Video Surveillance and many others.

Let’s break down Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as a reason why this a converged infrastructure approach provides superior economics.  VDI creates a couple of unique requirements: 1) Storage IOPS to handle boot storms and 2) Graphics adapters to drive video to low performance or stateless devices.  Deploying VDI into a traditional environment creates a need to add spindles or storage enhancers along with graphics cards. This often drives the cost per desktop equal to, or higher than, just buying a new desktop.  Nutanix has changed the game here with an extremely dense purpose built converged system.  You need 100 virtual desktops, buy 1 node, need 400, buy a single 4 node block.  This system scales linearly and comes complete with the storage, server and graphics performance you need.  We are seeing price per desktop as low as $250/desktop with this approach. So, go kick the VDI tire again if you haven’t lately.

Companies such as IBM have taken this same approach for big data with their IBM’s PureSystem for Analytics appliance.  The entire lifecycle of the PureData System for Analytics has been simplified; from how the system is procured and deployed, to how it’s managed and maintained. This results in a low cost of ownership and minimal maintenance effort. The system is up and running in hours, requires minimal up front design and tuning, and minimal ongoing administration. It provides standard interfaces to best of breed analytics, business intelligence and data integration tools; as well as easy connectivity to other big data platform components.

So as the I.T. world moves further down the cloud journey, I think you will continue to see purpose built solutions.  Speed to deploy is the key driver here.  This will pave the way for public cloud (IAAS and SAAS) options.  This will allow you to quickly deploy an environment designed specifically for the workload without a long project for the I.T. group with multiple suppliers.

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