What is CI?


I was in the middle of a meeting the other day and some slides were being reviewed, with one of them having a title that included the term “CI”. Someone asked, “What is CI?”


I initially thought I must not be doing my job, but in reality, given the alphabet soup of abbreviations we deal with every day, whether new technologies (e.g. SDDC, AFA…), delivery models (e.g. XaaS, O2O…), texting abbreviations (H2G, SMH, YOLO), and things that just seem like abbreviations (e.g. ARM) it’s not surprising that CI hasn’t been internalized by everyone just yet.


CI” is short for Converged Infrastructure

Converged or Integrated Infrastructure, is an evolutionary state of IT infrastructure. Many see it as an inflection point marking the maturity or decline of the web-based or ‘N-Tier’ architecture product life cycle. Vendors, like us, are augmenting their traditional IT products with integration value-add, which had been done by integrators and consultants as a sometimes costly, separate service in the past.


Vendor pre-integration or pre-validation gives IT a more time and cost-efficient experience when deploying and managing their data center infrastructure, vs. continuing to do so at the individual component (i.e. storage, networking, server) level which takes longer and incurs more risk.


We see Converged or Integrated Infrastructure as a stepping stone towards the next big IT cycle, Cloud computing.


CI is a large and fast growing market

According to IDC, the Integrated Infrastructure and Platform market is huge and growing, hitting $15B and 18% growth in 2016. A core driver is large enterprises’ need to reduce the total cost of IT, while still wanting to maintain cloud-like agility and responsiveness. A converged or integrated infrastructure lets IT teams realize cost efficiencies, with faster deployments, plus the added benefits of reduced project risk and better uptime. Also important is that IT retains control over the infrastructure vs. losing it to a SaaS vendor or hyperscaler.


43% of total workloads are already running on integrated systems and this is expected to rise to 57% by 2016 (source: IDC Integrated Systems: End-User Survey Report 2014).


Customers want CI

FlexPod is a well-established business here at NetApp. We’ve had it in the market with Cisco for almost 5 years now, and over that time it has tallied billions in cumulative revenues. At the same time we have many customers who like the CI story and the FlexPod solution, but have asked to use their own server standard. For these customers we have partnered with other leading server vendors including Fujitsu, Unisys and Bull.


Where to go for more info on CI

Some good industry resources include Wikipedia and articles like this one in publications such as Network Computing. NetApp specific resources include our community page, ConvergedCommunity.com, and our Twitter account, @NetAppConverged.