With the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2016 a couple years ago, Microsoft directly entered the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform space that has been served by organizations like Nutanix, Scale, Cisco, HP, Dell, and others – only Microsoft comes at it with a fully software-defined platform rather than hardware and applicances.
HCI environments are based on the following:
- Scalable and Shared Compute: The ability to aggregate processing power beyond a traditional “server” with two or four sockets spanning a finite 24, 32, 64 cores to an array of multiple servers where the core processing capabilities brings together four, eight, 16, or more servers with hundreds of cores that can be shared and allocated to workloads as needed.
- Scalable and Shared Storage: The core storage component of HCL is very similar to the traditional Storage Area Network (SAN) model of the past decade where dozens of drive subsystems are spanned for high performance and capacity and allocated to workloads as needed.
- Flexible and Customizable Networking: The networking component of HCI provides virtual networks that isolate traffic and shape communications to optimize the workload to workload communications for performance and security purposes
HCI Compute on Windows Server 2016 – Based on HyperV
A decade or two ago, there was a constant shootout between Microsoft’s HyperV and VMWare for virtualization, but these days no one cares about the hypervisor. Tthat whole virtual-networking environment shifted away from the basic running of virtual machines to the entire data center environment based on HCI. While VMWare has its HCI offering, these days it comes down to cost to provide core scalable data center functionality.