The Promise of One-Stop Data Management
Like HCI, superconvergence aims to combine multiple aspects of data center operations and management at a single point, but with the added benefits of integrated networking and sophisticated management tools.
That integrated management piece may prove to be the key differentiator, offering a “single pane of glass,” a one-stop portal for a range of management activities, says Shaun Snapp, a researcher at Brightwork Research & Analysis.
“That is where everything is visible — a single screen where everything is available to you,” he says. “It allows everything to be monitored very easily within an application. It shows the entire physical setup of the data center and everything that’s going on.”
This integrated management could help IT departments to optimize their budgets by making maximum use of the resources at hand.
“In data centers, hardware is often underutilized. Some percentage of servers are just dead; they are not doing anything,” Snapp said. “This approach gives you the top-end view, so that you can know what is going on. Your waste is lower, you can better identify under-utilized items, and overall efficiency is increased.”
Districts Benefit from Greater Flexibility, Lower Costs
Many (if not most) U.S. school districts outsource their data center needs to managed service providers. If those MSPs were to adopt a superconverged strategy, districts could benefit from increased scalability and flexibility, says Fred Hicks, director of infrastructure at Adelphi University.
“As the needs grow, the provider could add new resources and new applications on the fly. That’s valuable in a situation where the needs are changing or evolving from year to year,” Hicks says. “An MSP with a superconverged infrastructure would allow districts to adapt really easily, either by adding new resources or just swapping applications.”
This ease of management could in turn reduce the cost of K–12 computing.
“The outsourcing companies might find it appealing to get a lot of stuff together for a fixed price, and the schools in turn could get more functionality for a lower price,” Coughlin said.
Whether this promise is fulfilled will depend on how superconvergence is actually delivered as this emerging methodology continues to take shape in the IT marketplace.
“It’s such a sexy term, but it is still so loosely defined,” Snapp said. “It’s still an unproven technology.”