Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Who’s Managing Your Hyperconverged Infrastructure? 

Your organization has just spent millions on a complete overhaul of your traditional infrastructure in favor of a hyperconverged infrastructure deployment (HCI). Everyone’s excited about the change, but there’s one aspect that needs to be addressed in depth: who’s going to manage this new infrastructure? It’s advantageous to discuss the strengths of your team and determine if you need to hire additional support to run the shiny, new HCI deployment. I’ve been brought in as a consultant countless times to help XYZ company fix, install, or upgrade their infrastructure, because they didn’t hire the right people as a complementary investment. This is not an ideal position. Hiring the right people will ensure the biggest return out of this big purchase.

Take Stock of the Current Team

The first step is to take stock of who’s on your technical team currently. Determine if your IT manager and/or project manager have technical expertise in HCI. If not, focus on who’s in the trenches day in and day out. Who’s been logging in and troubleshooting the environment daily, upgrading components, and provisioning resources? If you’re coming from a traditional infrastructure model, are you confident you have the right people to manage the software-defined solution you just purchased? The skillset required is more than just Windows or OS admin, network admin, or storage pro. This is a new infrastructure that will kill the traditional siloed teams. With a bright team, onsite vendor training and a good TAM may be all that’s required to make the new deployment hum.

Virtualization Expertise is Key

Virtualization expertise is the key skillset to look for when searching for the right person to manage your HCI. A good virtualization admin or engineer is familiar with most of the technology stack encountered in HCI. There are two or three legitimate, enterprise-ready hypervisor solutions. One actually comes out-of-the-box with a specific HCI vendor, and adoption is growing. On the other hand, the market-leading hypervisor is able to run on all HCI solutions, and is the most widely adopted hypervisor today. Regardless of which hypervisor solution you marry up with, the basics are conceptually the same, barring a few proprietary features. Find someone who has at least 10 years of virtualization experience and the certifications to go with it.

Find Someone with an ‘IT Mentality’

In addition to experience, a good candidate will possess an “IT mentality.” Those with this quality know the job is much more than a 9-to-5 position. There will be times when an employee is ready to head home, but will be stopped because of an outage or major issue. They may end up spending the rest of the evening there, into the morning hours, trying to figure out how to bring the application or hardware back on line. Even with the extra hours and likely a lack of extra pay for overtime, the type of person you want in this position is up for the task. Things are guaranteed to go wrong and misconfigurations will happen, but anyone with the IT mentality will have the capacity to stick it out and make it right.

Converged Infrastructure Experience is Important

Finding someone with years of experience working with converged infrastructure (CI) is a big deal. Though not the same as HCI, CI is closely related. Someone who’s worked for a CI vendor or run CI in the past will recognize the hardware and have valuable experience to offer. HCI doesn’t shackle a company to a specific hardware vendor, so this should give the admin with CI experience a leg up on understanding what it takes to run HCI. Plus, anyone with CI experience is going to understand a lot more about convergence than a green admin with only traditional infrastructure experience. HCI is a different game, but any player familiar with CI will increase the odds of winning.

Don’t Settle and Don’t Rely on Vendor Services

The pool of talented people is bigger than one might expect, but patience is necessary. There are talented and intelligent admins out there, and while some of them may not have much HCI experience, a little training goes a long way. Lastly, don’t rely on professional services from the vendor. Yes, the vendor will have HCI experts at their disposal, but they’ll come at a steep price. Most of the time, professional service credits are built into an enterprise license agreement, and other times they can be purchased as needed. To ensure your HCI is managed effectively, the best method is to hire people to work on-premises and invest in training if necessary. It will be a much better experience, and decrease your operational expenditure in the long run.