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How is hyper-convergence technology used in healthcare?

Expert Brien Posey explains how hyper-convergence can help healthcare sites better use desktop virtualization, including for storage and scaling needs.

Although hyper-convergence technology has a number of different uses in healthcare organizations, the most popular example involves employing such systems to host virtual desktops.

First, let's offer a brief explanation: Hyper-convergence refers to a type of architecture that manages integrated technologies as a single system. Hyper-converged systems can be expanded by adding nodes. 

Because all of the components of hyper-convergence work tightly together, it is possible to manage all resources from one management tool or console, including compute, storage networking and virtualization.

For hospitals, desktop virtualization is a good choice

Regarding desktop virtualization, although the technology might not be the best fit for every company, it works exceptionally well in hospitals.

The main reason desktop virtualization performs so well in medical environments has to do with the ways in which clinicians work. Nurses and physicians tend to move from room to room as they meet patients on the hospital floor or discuss treatments with colleagues, and they may also occasionally work from remote locations. Desktop virtualization is a good fit for this type of activity because it allows desktop operating systems and applications to run on centralized systems. As such, a clinician's desktop and apps are available for use from any authorized system.

Hyper-converged infrastructure is a good fit for desktop virtualization because it offers predictable scalability.

It's possible to implement desktop virtualization without using hyper-convergence technology. But one of the reasons why hyper-converged infrastructure is such a good fit for desktop virtualization is because it offers predictable scalability. By using various metrics, health IT professionals can estimate the average level of resources consumed by a virtual desktop. This information can then be extrapolated in an effort to determine the number of virtual desktops that a hyper-converged node can realistically host.

Hyper-convergence products jump in sales in Q3 of 2017

Hyper-converged technology across all industries appears to be growing in popularity, with $1 billion in sales noted in the third quarter of 2017.

That figure is an incredible 68% year-over-year gain in sales of hyper-converged systems, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker -- equal to one-third of total converged systems market revenue.

Products from Dell and Nutanix led the field in sales, IDC reported.

"While hyper-convergence is not the sole source of market growth, it has undeniably driven an expansion of this market into new environments at a very rapid pace," Eric Sheppard, research director of enterprise storage and converged systems at IDC, said in a press release.

Storage, scalability benefits from hyper-converged systems

Hyper-convergence technology is also a good option for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) storage, thanks in part to hyper-convergence's ability to provide reliable storage capacity and performance.

Whenever a hospital IT department decides that it needs to increase the scale of its virtual desktop deployment, it can simply add an additional node to an existing hyper-converged appliance. In doing so, the IT staff can accurately predict the number of additional virtual desktops that will be able to run.

Furthermore, many of the hyper-converged systems available today are certified by the manufacturer to be fully compatible with VDI software from hypervisor vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix or VMware.

This was last published in February 2018

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