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A lot was written last year about the rise of the IT generalist who can bridge the isolated worlds of servers, storage, networks, and even applications. Generalists help companies respond quickly to IT needs that span disciplines. And for companies looking to digitally transform their business, the IT generalist offers a new path to agile responsiveness.Generalists have been rare in the “big iron” server and storage era because of the specialized technology knowledge and management expertise that each infrastructure element required. True generalists are even harder to find today once clouds, containers and next-generation applications are factored in. Fortunately, there is a new way to build infrastructure that is ideally suited to the needs of the IT generalist. The emergence of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) – where compute, networking, and storage all meet under a single umbrella – is radically simplifying the way IT infrastructure is procured, deployed and managed.

 

The economic value of HCI hardware consolidation is concrete and immediate. But the real benefits of HCI are cultural. HCI democratizes IT resource management so generalists can manage infrastructure as an integrated solution platform rather than as resource silos. That’s great news for companies looking to digitally transform since HCI leverages industry-standard servers and virtualization expertise.In many ways, this generalist trend is a continuation of the IT skills evolution that began with the ascendance of x86 server virtualization. Before VMware, complex server applications were largely based on UNIX systems that required custom expertise to manage proprietary hardware and software. Server virtualization democratized servers and created the virtualization administrator who is today’s IT generalist.

 

HCI now offers these same virtualization generalists the power to control storage and network resources. Hyper-convergence integrates storage admin responsibilities through VMware vCenter while it eliminates proprietary hardware and specialized storage skills. This is a gain for employers and provides a welcome career expansion for VMware certified professionals. With the rise of the VMware generalist and increased emphasis on management automation, the IT function itself can evolve. Today’s modern IT department is increasingly viewed as an internal service provider rather than a cost center. A hyper-converged environment allows IT to take a holistic view of infrastructure and concentrate on business objectives rather than mere technical imperatives.

 

At VMware, we’re proud to be powering the hyper-converged market with vSAN. We have partnered with all the leading server companies as well as with cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and IBM SoftLayer to deliver hyper-converged solutions for every use case with a common management experience. VMware Cloud Foundation further extends the solution to include network virtualization and advanced life-cycle management.

 

We look forward to helping virtualization generalists extend their expertise into storage, networking, cloud, and beyond. For 2017, HCI is the prize powering the rise of the IT generalist.