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Technology that enables—hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

At first, the phrase “hyper-converged infrastructure” might not seem to relate to knowledge management, except in an IT-centric way. Although it is definitely at the infrastructure layer, HCI is also well aligned with some of the key goals of KM, including storing information efficiently, removing silos and responding agilely to changing circumstances.

HCI is software that runs on commodity hardware and convergences multiple functions including servers, storage, backup and disaster recovery. “HCI is like a smart phone in that it combines features that used to require different devices such as a phone, a camera and an MP3 player,” explains Andrew Haire, senior product marketing manager at SimpliVity. SimpliVity’s hyperconverged platform consolidates all IT infrastructure and advanced data services for virtualized workloads onto x86 servers, either built into a SimpliVity OmniCube appliance or as OmniStack on a device from Cisco, Lenovo or Dell.

The software is designed for a virtual environment, which allows flexibility in adding capacity and sharing workloads. Its efficient storage techniques reduce the complexity of data storage and can reduce the number of devices in the data center by a factor of 10 or more. “We have customers who are saving $100 million in operating costs over the next five years because they have reduced their need for data centers,” Haire says.

Efficiency pays off in freeing up time in the IT department. “Often, about 80 percent of IT time is spent just keeping the lights on,” says Haire. “The built-in capabilities of HCI reduce that burden. In addition, because HCI is designed for easier management, it does not require IT specialists but can be run by generalists. The specialists can then direct their efforts toward more sophisticated activities.”

Those activities could include the design and deployment of applications that directly support business objectives. IT has been a bottleneck in many organizations, and a more solid infrastructure could facilitate more advanced initiatives that might include integration of information from multiple applications to provide a more comprehensive view of the customer, for example.

Finally, there is the matter of disaster recovery, a concern for any information-intensive organization. “There is no way to prevent all disasters, whether they originate from natural causes or software such as ransomware,” Haire says. “But we can failover to a backup system very rapidly and can restore a terabyte of information in a matter of seconds, so the problem is greatly reduced.”



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