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How HCI keeps businesses running and data secure

Ian Jeffs

Ian Jeffs

General manager at Lenovo Infrastructure Group
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HCI

One of the big reasons organisations are investing in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) in their data centres is simplicity.

With server, storage and networking combined into single, cluster-ready nodes, much of the complexity of traditional three-tier IT is eliminated. Also, when HCI providers partner with virtualisation and security software specialists, this simplicity can extend beyond the HCI itself to other parts of the enterprise IT landscape.

This is important for busy technology teams, who are being asked to support business innovation, while also protecting the organisation and its data against growing security threats. A UK Government survey published in March 2021 highlighted that four in ten businesses (39%) had experienced cybersecurity breaches or attacks in the previous 12 months. Against this backdrop, technology teams large and small need to operate smartly if they’re to meet their challenging goals.

Here are just some ways HCI can help teams simplify processes, helping them maintain continuity of IT services and manage data security. This frees up skilled resources to focus on high-value business innovation.

Centralised and simplified management

Managing traditional three-tier on-premises IT environments typically requires input from specialists in storage, servers and networking, as well as other areas, such as virtualisation. This results in complex and potentially time-consuming processes.

One of the strengths of HCI is that it brings many of these component parts together. The vendor typically provides centralised system administration and management tooling covering the servers, storage and networking – and potentially also other data centre infrastructure, edge devices, virtualisation software and endpoints.

This consolidation means the environment can be run by a smaller team, with any one individual able to address issues arising at any level, from resource-provisioning to administration, restoring, performance upgrades and patching. As a result, the organisation can deliver the same (or better) levels of IT service with fewer resources, meaning skilled individuals can be freed up to focus on strategic innovation work.

While this means a move to HCI will require an evolution of the IT team’s skills base, it doesn’t need to be a steep learning curve. Smart organisations are choosing HCI platforms that align with existing investments, enabling them to leverage skills they already possess in technologies such as VMware, Microsoft or Nutanix.

Furthermore, HCI security can align with cloud security. Many organisations are in the process of moving workloads to the cloud. Choosing an HCI platform based on virtualisation technology from a vendor that also offers cloud services, such as Microsoft, means organisations benefit from a degree of security alignment. This goes between their workloads running on HCI and those in the public cloud. As well as streamlining day-to-day security management across the wider estate, this alignment can accelerate future migrations to the cloud.

One set of updates to apply

One of the most important aspects of keeping your IT up to date – and thereby protected against security threats – is to apply patches in a timely way. However, there are complexities of doing so, including the need for downtime, or to test whether a patch for one component affects another. This means it’s not uncommon for organisations to leave their infrastructure unpatched and vulnerable for long periods.

Companies that utilise HCI providers to address these challenges and offer fully tested, consolidated patches that cover all aspects of a company’s solution, will be best protected against security threats. Crucially, a HCI solution that offers full protection must be fully integrated so that patches for other parts of the stack are then bundled in with HCI updates, where appropriate.

Put together, these measures mean HCI makes staying up to date quicker, easier, and lower-risk, thereby helping IT teams provide maximum protection against threats and vulnerabilities.

Quicker to restore from security incidents

If there is a security incident at infrastructure level, recovery of a hyperconverged environment typically requires fewer systems to be restored compared to a conventional three-tier data centre. This is therefore generally quicker. Recovery can also be accelerated by selecting HCI platforms where the vendor has integrated solutions from leading security, backup and recovery vendors into its centralised management software.

Real-time replication of data across the cluster helps minimise data loss, while the clustered design can further accelerate restore time after security incidents, such as ransomware attacks, resulting in reduced application downtime.

A more secure future

At a time when data has never been more crucial to business innovation, yet also so vulnerable to cybercrime, HCI in the data centre presents a more secure future. IBM’s 2021 report into cybercrime revealed that data breaches globally cost companies a staggering $4.24 million on average.

By investing in HCI, companies can enjoy the benefits of increased security by accelerating restore time after security incidents and consolidated patches bundled in with HCI updates. This gives IT teams confidence that their companies data is safe, creating the solid foundations for future innovation.

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