How to choose the right cloud model: a guide to improved performance:
Are you making the right choice?

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Business leaders know that every decision can tip the scales toward success or failure. One such pivotal choice lies in the selection of the right infrastructure.

It’s not just about keeping the lights on — it’s about powering innovation, driving efficiency, and carving out a competitive edge in a market that waits for no one. That’s why many companies today are relying on cloud infrastructure to support their operations.

Worldwide public cloud spending, for example, is projected to increase 21.7% to nearly $600 billion in 2023, according to Gartner. But it doesn’t end there. All segments of the cloud market are expected to grow this year, with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) leading the way at 30.9% and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) next at 24.1%

However, if these figures tell us anything, it’s that the world of cloud computing is vast, comprising several models and architectures. The question is, how do you know if the one you’ve chosen is, in fact, the right one for your business?

In this post, we’ll explore three types of architectures — hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), traditional, and distributed cloud — giving you the insights you need to make informed decisions.

HCI vs. traditional vs. distributed cloud

Understanding the main differences between these models is crucial if you want to optimize your IT strategies. But before we dive any deeper, let’s first ensure you know precisely what these architectures are.

HCI is a software-defined IT framework that combines storage, computing, networking, and virtualization into a single system, offering centralized management through software-defined technologies. Think of it as a “one-stop shop” for your data center needs.

Traditional IT infrastructure — or legacy infrastructure — represents the conventional approach to IT systems. In this model, servers, computing, storage, network resources, and virtualization platforms are managed as separate entities. Each component is typically housed in an on-premises data center and managed by your IT team.

Distributed cloud is a decentralized platform that leverages a network of geographically dispersed resources, enabling data processing and storage at the edge of the network. It involves distributing public cloud services to different physical locations; however, the originating public cloud provider is responsible for the operation, governance, updates, and evolution of services.

The benefits — and drawbacks — of each architecture

Hyperconverged infrastructure

Let’s start with the benefits:

  • Simplicity: Simplifies IT infrastructure management by integrating all components into a single system.
  • Enhanced scalability: Allows you to add new nodes to the existing cluster, eliminating the need to buy separate components and licenses.
  • Improved performance: Uses software-defined storage, which can significantly improve the performance of applications, since it can optimize the use of storage resources.
  • Data protection: Includes built-in features for data protection, such as data duplication and replication.
  • Cost savings: Consolidates your IT infrastructure, helping you save on hardware, power, cooling, and management costs.

On the flip side, HCI can leave you with:

  • Vendor lock-in: Once you choose a specific HCI solution, it can be challenging to switch to another vendor without significant effort and cost.
  • Scalability constraints: While HCI is known for its scalability, it requires scaling linearly. If you need more storage, you also must purchase more computing power, even if it’s not required, leading to potential inefficiencies.
  • Upfront costs: While the total cost of ownership may be lower over time, the upfront investment can be a barrier.

Traditional infrastructure

The benefits include:

  • Control: Offers complete control over the physical hardware and how it’s configured, making it beneficial for organizations with specific requirements cloud providers can’t meet.
  • Low upfront cost: Since you can start with basic components and gradually expand as needed.
  • High performance: Provides low latency and high performance, since resources are located on premises.
  • Security: Gives you direct control over your data security and compliance measures.

The downsides of traditional infrastructure, however, include:

  • Management complexity: Managing separate servers, storage devices, and networking equipment can increase potential compatibility issues.
  • Scalability issues: Scaling traditional infrastructure often requires significant investments and manual configuration. This can be time-consuming and may not provide the agility needed in fast-paced business environments.
  • Inefficiencies and higher long-term costs: Maintaining disparate systems can result in inefficiencies, as resources may not be utilized optimally. This can lead to increased costs over time due to scalability limitations, increased management complexity, and the need to purchase additional hardware, licenses, and components over time.

Distributed cloud infrastructure

With this architecture, you get:

  • Easy scalability: Leverages edge capabilities, which enable rapid expansion.
  • Greater resilience: Distributes resources across multiple locations, which introduces redundancy, ensuring high availability and minimizing downtime.
  • Lower latency: By locating resources closer to the end user, distributed cloud infrastructure can improve the performance of applications and provide a better user experience.

The disadvantages include:

  • Management difficulties: Managing resources across geographically dispersed locations can introduce new complexities like inconsistent performance and security issues.
  • Data sovereignty and compliance concerns: Complying with data sovereignty laws and regulations can be more complex with data stored and processed in multiple locations.
  • Significant costs: Implementing this architecture can involve substantial costs, including deploying and maintaining edge nodes. There may also be costs associated with data transfer and bandwidth.

Who do these architectures work best for?

HCI is ideal for businesses looking for a comprehensive, scalable, and efficient solution. It’s best if you want to simplify IT infrastructure, improve performance, and scale your operations.

Hospitals and healthcare providers, for instance, can use HCI to manage patient data and run critical applications. A bank might use HCI to ensure that its online banking platform can handle high volumes of transactions without performance issues. A university could utilize HCI to ensure students can access online courses and resources without problems.

Traditional infrastructure is typically used by organizations that have specific needs that can’t be met by cloud or hyperconverged solutions. Government agencies with strict data sovereignty and security requirements might turn to on-premises infrastructure to remain compliant. Similarly, financial institutions could use traditional infrastructure for their core banking systems to meet regulatory requirements and ensure high performance.

Distributed cloud infrastructure suits organizations that need to scale their resources quickly, provide low-latency access to applications, and ensure high availability. Media companies might use this architecture to stream content to users around the world. Tech companies often turn to distributed cloud to minimize delays in accessing their applications and services.

How to decide what’s right for your business

When choosing between HCI, traditional, and distributed cloud, there is no one size fits all. It boils down to knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each option and aligning them with your current and future business needs.

Each has pros and cons, so working with an experienced partner with deep knowledge is critical. This is where SHI comes in.

We’ll work with you to understand your business requirements, assess the implications of each infrastructure, and choose the best path that supports your current operations — fueling future growth and innovation.

The right infrastructure can be the difference between a business that thrives and one that merely survives. Let’s ensure you’re in the first category.

Contact SHI today to learn more about what cloud infrastructure makes the most sense for your business, and how to set yourself up for future growth.