Converged vs. Hyper Converged Infrastructure: Key Differences

Editorial Team

Converged vs. Hyper Converged Infrastructure

In the increasingly dynamic market competitive environment of IT infrastructure, organizations keep exploring infrastructure alternatives that provide simplicity, scalability, and ease of management. The leading architectures are Converged Infrastructure (CI) and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI). They are centered around IT operations coordination, yet do so in different means. This article outlines how converged and hyper converged infrastructures compare, covering their architectures and explaining the top features of both system types while exploring the most notable benefits, drawbacks, and types of deployments.

Understanding Converged Infrastructure (CI)

A converged infrastructure tightly integrates multiple IT components into a single, optimized computing solution. It comprises various servers, storage, networking gear, and management software. However, in a CI infrastructure, these parts are separately connected by a network or a fabric. In general, a CI system is made up of compute (servers or blade systems that provide the processing power), storage (dedicated storage systems, such as SAN or NAS), networking (switches, routers, and other types of networking equipment used to facilitate communication between components), and management software (tools to offer centralized management, orchestration, and monitoring of the entire infrastructure).

Benefits of Converged Infrastructure

CI offers several advantages. It makes administration easier by providing a unified platform where computing, storage, and networking resources are integrated, easing the management of different hardware and software components. Second, it enhances efficiency by bringing parts together as a single system. CI also provides an on-demand, scalable resource model that allows organizations to expand or quickly bring in additional compute, storage, or networking components resources at the drop. Usually, pre-configured and tested CI solutions reduce deployment times for faster infrastructure setup.

Challenges of Converged Infrastructure

CI is not free of challenges despite its benefits. The initial cost involved in purchasing the bundled systems can be high. In addition, one option to consider is that CI solutions tend to be monolithic and come from a single vendor, which in turn means vendor lock-in and less flexibility. Running standalone components in traditional CI systems can be tricky and require the vendor to get involved, which only increases the complexity of maintaining and scaling them individually.

Use Cases for Converged Infrastructure

CI is particularly applicable to data centers that need robust and scalable infrastructure to support a wide range of needs in a diverse workload. A virtualization environment with high virtualization needs a stable and scalable platform for virtualized workloads. Furthermore, for those in the private and hybrid cloud business, organizations may see value in the more centralized mode of operation with CI, seeing that it can manage and scale in an eco-friendly manner tailored to your IT environment.

Understanding Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI)

Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) with computing, storage, and networking in a single software-defined system HCI combines and controls resources as one platform leveraging virtualization. Every node in an HCI cluster has a merging of computing power and storage, backed by a hypervisor on which virtual machines are resources. Software-defined storage (SDS) allows storage management to be more flexible and efficient, using Software-Defined Networking (SDN) for virtualized networking among the various nodes in the cluster, completing the configuration of the Dell EMC VxRail HCI. The centralized management software manages all provisioning, monitoring, and scaling of the complete HCI environment.

Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

The footprint of computing, storage, and networking for an HCI instance is aggregated into one based on which infrastructure management is done on HCI. This simplicity also translates to lower costs – HCI can eliminate the need for individual storage and networking hardware, which may reduce both OpEx and CapEx. HCI systems are also designed to be operationally scalable by adding additional nodes to the cluster, allowing resources to increase linearly. As a software-defined data center building block, HCI is inherently agile, providing a much higher agility and making on-demand provisioning and reconfiguring resources incredibly easy. This makes it ideal for dynamic IT environments.

Challenges of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

But HCI comes with its obstacles, as well. Components rely on software-defined functions that can also lead to performance overhead, especially in I/O-bound environments. While HCI scales out great, it can be challenging to be up, i.e., add more power to an individual node. At the same time, HCI is tightly integrated, with computing, storage, and networking all part of the same system. This means problems in one area could affect the entire system, making troubleshooting and maintenance more difficult.

Use Cases for Hyperconverged Infrastructure

This is ideally suited to the remote or branch office environment, which requires advanced IT provisioning but with limited management overhead. This is why it is frequently used by Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments, as it is simple, scalable, provides a seamless user experience, and simplifies backend management. However, HCI’s ability to move quickly and provision aligns well with DevOps environments and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines where the demand is for rapid provisioning and reconfiguring of resources.

Critical Differences Between Converged and Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Integration Level

The integration level is one of the most significant differences between CI and HCI. CI combines the components required to deliver a fully functional solution (I’ll solve that issue in a minute) into a single, pre-defined system. However, each component still has horsepower and can be scaled independently from the others. Besides that, HCI mixes the computing, storage, and networking through a single, software-defined system that offers a more integrated, lean, user-friendly environment.


Scalability is likewise another primary differentiation between the two architectures. This gives us more flexibility in scaling every component (compute, storage, networking) independent of the others if a specific component needs upgrading. Conversely, HCI scales out with the addition of nodes to the cluster, allowing for a linear increase of all resources simultaneously, which may aid in simplifying scaling but restrict granular control.


However, management is another significant point of contrast. CI offers centralized management of the integrated components, but it may not provide consistent separate interfaces for each element for fine-grained control. On the other hand, HCI provides a consistent control plane to simplify overall management, making it easier to use and more efficient to operate with a single pane of glass to manage all resources.

Deployment and Maintenance

CI and HCI also differ in other considerations, such as deployment and maintenance. CI tends to be pre-configured/ pre-tested solutions that simplify deployment but may require you to go back to the vendor to upgrade and maintain it. Software-defined components make HCI easier to deploy and manage but incur performance overhead because of virtualization.

Cost Structure

CI and HCI also differ in other considerations, such as deployment and maintenance. CI tends to be pre-configured/ pre-tested solutions that simplify deployment but may require you to go back to the vendor to upgrade and maintain it. Software-defined components make HCI easier to deploy and manage but incur performance overhead because of virtualization.


Both converged and hyper converged infrastructures present astonishing advantages, but they make blood brothers to some. Converged Infrastructure is for environments where you seek flexibility and efficiency in your projects, requiring solid and free scalable solutions developed by independent resource scaling. Conversely, hyperconverged infrastructure provides simplicity, affordability, and adaptability, making it most suitable for environments requiring smooth management and quick scaling.

Organizations should think carefully about CI vs. HCI when deciding between the two approaches based on their unique needs for performance and scalability, how much management burden they want, and how strict their budget constraints are. By understanding the fundamentals of how it works, you can better detail the benefits and challenges of each to flesh out the decision that aligns best with your strategies and objectives from an IT perspective.