What’s the Difference Between HCI and SDI?

By Brian Grant

Jul 13, 2021 10:00:00 AM

About 5 minutes

BizTech reported that the year-long pandemic has driven companies in many industries to modernize their infrastructures. This move is propelled by the need to transition to a “digital-first enterprise.”  

Modernizing your company’s infrastructure means exploring new types of architectures that increase agility and flexibility to meet the demands of remote workplaces and e-commerce. Two options for infrastructures that enable digital transformation are hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and software-defined infrastructure (SDI).  

But what are the differences between HCI and SDI? 

While HCI and SDI both replace the traditional 3-tier architecture with software-centric architectures that enhance and unify the management capabilities, they are constructed in two distinct ways. 

Anatomy of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)

HCI provides a consolidated and comprehensive architecture. Storage, compute, and networking are all included in a single chassis. HCI is sometimes described as “in-a-box” architecture or compared to Lego building blocks.

The building blocks of HCI are preconfigured and tested, making them easy to implement and scale. Procuring and deploying HCI may only take a few days.

The entire architecture can be scaled up simply by adding nodes when additional capacity is needed. When more storage is added, the supporting compute and networking resources also increase.

In HCI, a hypervisor abstracts the control layer from the hardware layer. This separation allows companies to optimize operations using less expensive commodity hardware.

Anatomy of Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI)

Like HCI, SDI is a virtualized environment. In SDI, functions and workloads are abstracted from the hardware layer. However, storage, compute, and networking are not automatically integrated as they are in HCI.

Companies can achieve a software-defined data center (SDDC) by implementing software-defined storage, networking, and security, but this process can be a journey that requires a roadmap.

Here’s a quick look at the parts of SDI architecture:

Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

SDS eliminates data silos by using software to virtualize the storage behind the server or other storage appliance. Storage can be pooled and tiered for better data access and management.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

SDN separates the network control plane from the forwarding plane, allowing companies to set policies for the provisioning and management of network resources. Workloads can be balanced without the need to manually adjust switches and routers.

Software-Defined Security (SDSec)

SDSec takes security tools, such as firewall and intrusion detection, and integrates them into the network. Security tools are able to move dynamically with users and their devices.

Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)

SDDC brings all the software-defined solutions together. Servers, network, storage, and security are virtualized, creating a complete SDI.

With SDI, a software layer enables business intelligence, allowing management processes to be automated across the business. Enterprise Networking Planet identified automation as the key to data center transformation. SDI empowers organizations to achieve automation for data management, security, and networking by letting them set policies that can be enacted across the system.

Choosing the Right Modern Infrastructure Option 

Deciding how to transform your company’s IT infrastructure is a huge decision. Both HCI and SDI deliver unified management through a single pane of glass but have different structures and methods of deployment. 

Before you make a change, you need to find a technology partner that helps you evaluate your options, find the solution that makes sense for your organization, and put together a roadmap to streamline the transition. 

ProActive Solutions specializes in data center transformation. We partner with leaders in the HCI and SDI spaces and take a consultative approach to working with clients who are considering an infrastructure transition. ProActive can help you choose whether HCI or SDI aligns with your business’s needs. 

Find out if HCI or SDI is the right path to data center transformation for your company. Request a whiteboard session from ProActive. 

Tags: Hyperconverged Infrastructure, HCI, SDDC, data center transformation, digital transformation, software-defined infrastructure, SD data center, infrastructure modernization