Converged infrastructure will require some compromise

All-in-one IT environments offer benefits in terms of simplified management, but companies must map their own requirements and decide whether this model makes more sense than best-of-breed systems.

Converged Infrastructure

There inevitably will be some tradeoffs when companies implement converged IT infrastructures, so they need to decide whether this model meets their requirements and map their options.

From the end-user perspective in data centers, for instance, organizations want "everything under the sun", noted Gary Teo, director of campus IT services at SIM University (UniSIM). The IT infrastructure should be easily deployed, flexible, agile, scalable and secure, said Teo, who was speaking a ZDNet Asia panel discussion to highlight the benefits, and challenges, of adopting converged infrastructure.

According to Stan Nguyen, Dell's director of server platform and enterprise solutions for Asia-Pacific and Japan, growing adoption of virtualization and IT consolidation is also driving demand for converged infrastructure.

Also a panelist, Nguyen noted that the need for physical infrastructure is unlikely to go away, so companies are asking for converged infrastructure to have the ability to easily manage the environment with a "single pane of glass".

Teo pointed out that converged infrastructure enables simplicity and speed, but a lot of it depends on the range and capability of product offerings from the selected vendor. And this vendor may not be able to provide all the capabilities or products that are adequate to support a more complex data center, he noted.

Another panelist, Lyon Poh, partner of management consulting at KPMG Singapore, said converged infrastructure will be a "very good sell for greenfield deployments" where the IT environment is built from scratch.

For organizations with preexisting infrastructure, however, it means the task of integration will be more complex than the promise of simplicity touted by converged environments, Poh noted.

Fellow panelist Frederic Giron, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said defining converged infrastructure is simple enough--a single stack of computer power, storage and networking, and the overall management layer on top. And all of this is built, integrated and tested by a vendor, instead of the end-user.

Less customization, flexibility
Yet, Giron said, while this means easier deployment and management of a more efficient and flexible IT infrastructure, converged infrastructure will not suit everyone since there are tradeoffs.

In the IT marketplace, the fact remains certain vendors are stronger over others in certain areas, the analyst said.

"So if you're looking at the best-of-breed approach...converged infrastructure is not for you, and that's not [necessarily] a bad thing," he said. "Converged infrastructure won't replace every [IT system]. The point is to know your requirements and map your options."

ZDNet Asia panelists:

- Gary Teo
Director of campus IT services, SIM University

- Lyon Poh
Partner of management consulting, KPMG Singapore

- Stan Nguyen
Director of server platform, Dell Asia-Pacific and Japan

- Frederic Giron
Vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research

- Eileen Yu (moderator)
Senior editor, ZDNet Asia