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I recently lost some weight after getting back into the habit of exercising regularly. On the positive side, I felt great, but on the downside, all of the clothes I had purchased in the last few years didn’t fit. Looking to replace some slacks for work, I went to the store and found that there were now dress pants that were machine washable. In addition, because they were made with some synthetic materials, they cost less than 100% wool pants. I did the math in my head: I could save hundreds of dollars by avoiding costly dry cleaning over the lifetime of the pants, and they cost less up-front than the wool pants. Needless to say, I walked out of the store with three pairs!

Holding On to Old Pants – And Legacy Storage Infrastructure – Is Expensive

Most companies use traditional three tier infrastructure, with external arrays providing storage for a virtual infrastructure cluster. Traditional storage has served businesses well for many years, providing excellent reliability and availability. However, purpose-built storage infrastructure is often more expensive up-front, relies on highly manual processes to maintain, and consumes more real estate, power and cooling than server-based storage.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), however, runs on industry-standard x86 servers. All core data services – deduplication, compression, encryption, fault tolerance, and more – are delivered by software embedded in the hypervisor. In addition, HCI utilizes a scale out architecture, allowing organizations to scale as needs grow. To get more resources, users can add more drives to existing nodes to increase storage or add both compute and storage resources by adding nodes to a cluster.

The costs of traditional storage can be shocking: just ask Clover School District (CSD) in Clover, South Carolina. The school district was in the process of shuttering their computer labs, having provided every student with personal mobile devices, when a state mandate required centralized computer labs for testing. The school district’s IT team looked to a VDI solution that would centralize all processing and storage in the district’s data center and convert existing desktops to thin clients. For a VDI storage solution, VMware vSAN allowed the district to cut more than $150,000 from its pilot hardware platform.

“Working with vSAN is basically just building the drives into your server nodes. I think we spent about $49,000 for our initial 20TB of storage, which included some solid-state drives. Our server vendor wanted more than $200,000 for a Fibre Channel array with the same amount of storage.” — Matt Hoffman, Executive Director of Technology, Clover School District

Hyperconverged infrastructure offers businesses an opportunity to dramatically lower their storage costs. How? Read on!

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Reduces Storage Capital Expenses

Hyperconverged infrastructure can lower storage costs, starting with the upfront, capital costs of infrastructure. HCI allows customers to shift away from traditional, purpose-built storage where costs for capacity and networking are still high with a limited set of choices. In fact, customers are usually locked-in to the one vendor that made their storage array.

vSAN benefits from the significantly lower prices of industry standard, x86 server components. These server-side economics mean much lower cost for flash devices and networking. Check out the cost comparison below:

Lower Storage Costs

Because of hyperconverged infrastructure’s scale-out architecture, users can buy what they need up-front, unlike traditional storage, where users typically procure multiple years’ worth of storage from the get-go.  While that might reduce the amount of time procuring storage, it locks in money for years that could be spent elsewhere – a costly investment.

Lower Storage Costs

vSAN Uses Automation to Reduce OPEX – The Costliest Part of Storage

While hyperconverged infrastructure can lower capital expenses, the majority of storage spending – and savings from hyperconvergence – actually occurs from operational expenditures; in fact, OPEX can be twice as large as CAPEX over a four-year period.

Lower Storage Costs

Personnel, facilities and power and cooling are key OPEX costs. Hyperconverged infrastructure can significantly reduce them. For example, HCI uses software to increase agility through simplified, highly automated operations. Gone are the days of LUN creation. Instead, admins define storage needs at the VM or VMDK level with descriptive policies, and the software implements and ensures compliance with the policy. Here’s a chart with a few examples of how software-driven storage operations take a fraction of the time of a traditional storage array.

Lower Storage Costs

Source: Hosken, Martin. (2018). Understanding the Business Value of VMware vSAN. [White Paper]. Retrieved June 2018 from VMware Intranet.

Customer Stories

How do simplified operations translate into actual customer savings? Here are a few customer stories:

  • Union Hospital: “Managing [vSAN]…is less than a tenth of what I have to do on NetApp. I would go so far as to say that managing vSAN is kind of any oxymoron.”
  • CH2M: Completely eliminated day-to-day IT administration in branch offices
  • City of North Las Vegas: “VMware allows us to be more agile, enabling a 22-person North Las Vegas IT division compared to 70 or more IT staff at similar sized municipalities.”

Lower Storage Costs – Next Steps

Want to see how much VMware vSAN customers are saving on average? View the IDC Study.

Learn how vSAN powers VMware’s Hyperconverged Infrastructure Solution.

Take a technical deep dive at StorageHub.