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City Government Runs on HC3

City governments face unique unique IT challenges, supporting a number of departments ranging from emergency services to parks and recreation. With limited budgets, these organizations look at technology to reduce the costs of the services they provide. Hyperconverged infrastructure is a great fit for city governments because it not only can be implemented at a low cost, but the cost savings continues through reduced operational and management costs.

But don’t just take it from us. These three videos let our customers speak for themselves about HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure.

City of St. Cloud

City of West Allis

City of Noblesville

HC3 is a great choice for any IT organization looking to modernize for simplicity, scalability, availability, and disaster recovery. Our customer’s success is our success at Scale Computing.  We want to help you be successful too. Let us know how we can help.

TSANet Member Spotlight

This week we were pleased to have our Scale Computing Support Team featured in the TSANet Member Spotlight! We don’t really talk about our own support team enough and how awesome they are here at Scale Computing, maybe because if we did, they are so awesome that we’d be talking about them all the time. So, it is nice when someone like TSANet takes the time to highlight how great they really are.

So, rather than try to tell you in my own words, let me give you the link to the Spotlight feature and a couple snippets below. Click the image below for the link.

TSANet interviewed Blake Rodier, Technical Support Manager, Dave Demlow, Vice President of Product Management and Support, and Lynanne Gibel, Director of Support and Professional Services at Scale Computing.

“Our support renewal rate is around 93%. That says something about the support organization. We consider ourselves as a part of the product. A lot of our customers want to come back because of the support they receive and I consider that a huge acknowledgement for our team,” said Lynanne.

 

May the 4th Be With You, Always!

On May 4th, we celebrate the culturally iconic Star Wars universe. While the story of Star Wars takes place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the technology is futuristic even by our present standards, 40 years after the first movie premiered. Star Wars has captured the imaginations of billions of people over the years who have dreamed of living in such a technology-rich world of droids, lightsabers, speeder bikes, and more.

Perhaps the most important technology featured in Star Wars is faster than light (FTL) travel. The ability to travel through hyperspace not only allowed for the galactic empire to exist but also made for exciting chase scenes and iconic special effects.

While we don’t seem to be close to developing FTL travel today, the technology to go faster in everything we do is all around us. At Scale Computing, not only are we a bunch of Star Wars geeks, we are innovators working to make your IT infrastructure faster. That is nowhere more apparent than in our storage architecture.  

While our competitors are still using storage architectures based on SAN and NAS technologies that have been around over 20 years. We knew there was a better way and faster way to deliver storage. Instead of virtualizing technologies that were never built for virtualization in the first place, we are starting from the ground up, ditching multiple layers of storage controllers, file systems, and protocols that are causing inefficiencies in data centers around the world.

You see, many virtualization solutions start with a SAN or NAS technology onto which another virtual storage layer is applied, mimicking SAN, often referred to as vSAN. Then finally, the actual file system for the virtual machine is added. These technologies deploy a variety of both physical controllers and virtual storage appliances (VSAs) to make it all work.  Not with Scale Computing.

The HC3 virtualization platform doesn’t use any extra storage controllers or VSAs, no extra file systems, and no extra protocols. The only file system in play with HC3 is the one used by the guest OS installed in the virtual machine you create for your applications. This makes our storage extremely efficient and that was even before we decided to add solid state flash drives into the architecture. Our architecture has allowed us to implement flash a little differently than the competition and we have a sense of humor about it too.

Other storage technologies desperately needed flash storage as a cache to overcome the inefficiencies they had already built into their architectures. With HC3, we didn’t need a flash storage cache so we just implemented flash as a storage tier to actually store your data. Then, where your data is stored, you get to control how much flash you use on a per virtual disk basis as illustrated above. Again, there are no controllers or VSAs needed for our tiered flash storage or all flash storage architecture.

Non-volatile memory  express (NVMe) technologies like 3D XPoint are designed for speeds 1000x faster than NAND (the current primary flash architecture). In order to achieve these 1000x speeds, NVMe must bypass traditional storage controllers and protocols that would only serve as a bottleneck because they were never designed for the speeds capable with this new flash storage. So these existing storage architectures designed around old SAN and NAS technologies are going to have to change completely for NVMe. HC3 doesn’t have all of these old controllers, VSAs, or protocols to shed to implement NVMe.

Speed matters. Architecture matters. The future matters and your systems need to be ready for the future. Don’t go with an architecture that is going to need to scrapped when you need NVMe speeds in a couple years. Future proof your data center with technology designed to eliminate complexity and inefficiency: HC3.

5 Reasons to Refresh IT Infrastructure

Nothing lasts forever, especially IT infrastructure technology. In the ever-evolving world of IT hardware and software, change is inevitable. Right now, organizations all over the world are seeing the signs they need to refresh, whether they know it or not. End of Life or End of Support are obvious reasons, but what other reasons are being realized or possibly ignored?

#1 – Performance becomes a pain.

IT is an engine that drives business. Over time, increased load and decreased efficiency take their toll on the performance of the IT engine. Performance issues can be dealt with in a number of ways such seeking out and fixing specific hardware performance bottlenecks to improving processes for greater efficiency. As with an automobile, there is a breaking point where the cost of fixing the problems outweighs the cost of repair. Performance issues can be notoriously hard to diagnose without expertise. For that reason, the pain of performance issues often demands IT infrastructure refresh.

#2 – Datacenters need consolidation.

For a variety of reasons, sometimes datacenters need consolidation. The needs may include acquisition, restructuring, or relocating but it may not make sense to consolidate what exists. Often different sites and even different departments use different infrastructure technologies for no particular reason. While it is possible to coexist a number of different SAN/NAS devices and hypervisor architectures, it adds a load of complexity to the combined datacenter. This is a classic opportunity for infrastructure refresh to eliminate complexity

#3 – Capacity is limited.

When you bought your SAN you had space for extra shelves for growth but you filled that faster than expected. Capacity planning isn’t an exact science, not even close. You could add another storage device and cobble the two together but there might be a better way in scale-out architecture.  Software-defined scale-out storage built into hyperconverged infrastructure solutions offers very easy and cost-effective scaling, on-demand. Refreshing with hyperconvergence is not only going to help scale storage effectively but also scale RAM and CPU as needed, in a much simpler solution.

#4 – Alice doesn’t work here anymore.

Remember Alice? She was the out-sourced IT consultant who designed and built the current infrastructure with her own unique set of expertise? Well, her fees for continuing to fix and manage the solution whenever there was an issue was just too expensive. No one else can quite figure out how anything is supposed to work because she expertly put together some older gear that isn’t even supported any more. It works for now, thanks to Alice, but if something goes wrong, then what? It could be time to start over and refresh the IT infrastructure with something newer that staff IT administrators can deal with.

#5 – Costs are examined.

IT is a cost center. The challenge is to get the most benefit from that cost. Older technologies like SANs, whether physical or virtual, are costly and were never designed for virtualization in the first place. Hypervisors and management solutions like VMware vSphere come at a high cost in ongoing software licensing fees. There is the cost of integrating all of the storage, servers, virtualization and management software, not to mention backup/DR. Then finally the cost of expertise to manage and maintain these systems. The costs of this traditional virtualization architecture can be overwhelming. Avoiding these high costs is a primary reason IT professionals are looking at technologies like cloud and hyperconvergence to simplify IT.

Whatever the reason for an IT infrastructure refresh, it is an opportunity to lower costs, increase productivity, and plan for future growth. This is why so many are considering hyperconverged infrastructures like HC3 from Scale Computing. It dramatically simplifies IT infrastructure, lowers costs, and allows seamless scaling for future growth. While some workloads may be destined for the cloud, the HC3 virtualization platform provides a simple, secure, and highly available solution for all of your on-prem datacenter needs. If it is time to refresh, take a look at everything HC3 provides and all the complexity it eliminates.

Education Runs on HC3

Educational institutions are constantly challenged to keep up with technological innovation. Students need access to modern technology to prepare for a  competitive job market and institutions need technology to remain efficient and effective. As virtualization technology solutions offered by VMware and Microsoft have proven to be complex and costly, educational institutions have begun switching to hyperconverged infrastructure solutions like HC3 from Scale Computing to modernize.

Educational institutions have all, if not more, of the needs of businesses when it comes to IT. They are implementing common office applications, messaging services, virtual desktops, hosting web services for students and parents, and supporting more specialized educational applications. On top of these challenges, they also carry the burden of restricted budgets. Expensive and complex multi-vendor IT infrastructure solutions employing SANs, servers, hypervisors, and backup/DR solutions leave little budget for growth or innovation.

HC3 combines the storage, server, hypervisor, and backup/DR into a single appliance-based solution. HC3 not only brings all of these elements together, but also makes the solution highly available with fully automated clustering. Where HC3 really makes the grade with education is both the simplicity that requires far less management from IT staff and the low price which makes HC3 a lower cost than the VMware and Hyper-V alternatives.

The simplicity of HC3 is perfect for educational institutions that can often employ only minimal IT staff, sometimes only part-time. Without the ability to employ full-time, highly-trained, (and highly paid) staff, the more complex IT infrastructures around VMware and Hyper-V become a burden and institutions are often forced to seek help from outside paid consultants. HC3 provides a turn-key infrastructure solution that enables institutions to comfortably utilize their existing staff at a significant savings.

From primary to higher education, Scale Computing is meeting IT needs with high marks. Here are a few of the educational institutions that have chosen HC3. Click on any one of them to view the HC3 case study.

Iron County Schools

American College of Education

Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center

St. Richard’s Catholic College

Auburn University

Triton School Corporation

Anamosa School District

Standard School District

GEO Foundation

Stoke Park School and Community Technical College

Toccoa Falls College

Summer vacation may be coming soon for students but educational institutions are already planning ahead for the next school year. HC3 is providing both simplicity and peace of mind for those organizations that have already made the switch away from VMware and Hyper-V.

3 Reasons Businesses Fail to Innovate in IT

In today’s markets, businesses need IT solutions to stay competitive and reach customers to drive sales and revenue. New technologies are constantly being developed to help businesses achieve greater efficiency and lower costs.

Despite the availability of these technology innovations, many businesses lag behind the technology curve, continuing to use older, more inefficient solutions. Some smaller businesses simply may not be aware of the latest technology solutions, but for most, there are other more sinister flaws in decision making that prevent  IT innovation.

Here are 3 reasons that businesses hold themselves back from innovating in IT.

1 . The Sunk Cost Fallacy

Rather than try to explain the sunk cost fallacy completely, I’ll instead just ask you to Google “sunk cost fallacy” and read one of the many in depth descriptions you will find, if you are not already familiar with it. To summarize it briefly, it is the idea that if you have made a significant investment in a solution, you must continue using that solution because of the investment. It is basically using the rear window when you are trying to drive business forward. That investment is history.

Everyone wants to get the most out of investment but in the technology game, newer better solutions come along all the time. Making the decision to hold onto a solution when there is a better solution available may well end up being a bigger cost than having switched. For example, you might invest in a storage solution that you plan and budget to use for the next 4 years. After 2 years, you may have both a need and opportunity to go to a better solution but you might delay because of the sunk costs of the “4 year” investment.

2. The Rotating Budget Cycle

This is related to the sunk cost fallacy but is more related to adhering to a certain budgeting schedule. IT assets can be expensive and sometimes replacing them gets budgeted on a cycle and the cycles for different types of assets do not align.  

For example, you may have  purchased some server assets one year, the next year you purchased a storage solutions, and the next year you purchased some software solutions.  You create a budget cycle where you are only purchasing part of the overall solution per year. This way of planning may help adhere to steady annual budget that is easier to account for and then you begin repeating this on a 3 year cycle. 

But what if one year when you were supposed to buy servers, you want to buy a combined solution that includes both servers and storage?  Are you able to adjust the budget to accommodate for the extra spending in that year or have you locked yourself out of that prospect and you instead have to wait until the following year because that is when the storage budget is available.

3. The Brand Name Game

When making any purchase, it is good to know something about the vendor, especially when there is support and warranty involved. It’s good to make sure the vendor is not a sham or a business that will be shuttering in a year or two.  But is a brand name a safety net in this case? 

The technology industry is known for innovation arising from little know startups as much or even more than from established brands. While small startups may fail or are at risk of being sucked into an abyss through acquisition, it is also not uncommon for large brand name products to be discontinued or brand name vendors to be acquired.  Where brand name means a certain level of consistency and longevity in other markets, it is much less the case in technology solutions. By shopping only brand names, IT organizations are putting about as much though into buying IT technology as they would buying a hair dryer.

Smaller vendors with lesser known brands can be more of an asset than a liability in IT solutions because they may offer more personalized services, more responsive support, and more innovative solutions. With older, larger, more recognized vendors, you may be treated as just one of tens of thousands of customers who are shuffled through the support and service queues. The small startup that was passed over because of the lack of brand recognition often becomes the next big brand that replaces the solution you went with.

Summary

When it comes to technology innovation, it is important to stay open to new and emerging technologies to solve your immediate challenges. I know some IT professionals have their headphones on listening to “The Way We’ve Always Done It” by Zero Innovation, but many others are starting to get it. Continuing to use less efficient solutions may not only be slowing you down, it may be costing you more in the long run.

Why HC3 IT Infrastructure Might Not Be For You

Scale Computing makes HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure appliances and clusters for IT organizations around the world with a focus on simplicity, scalability, and availability. But HC3 IT infrastructure solution might not be for you for a few reasons.

  • You want to be indispensable for your proprietary knowledge.

You want to be the only person who truly understands your IT Infrastructure. Having designed your infrastructure personally and managing it with your own home-grown scripts, only you have the knowledge and expertise to keep it running. Without you, your IT department is doomed to fail.

HC3 is probably not for you. HC3 was designed to be so simple to use that it can be managed by even a novice IT administrator. HC3 would not allow you to control the infrastructure with proprietary design and secret knowledge that only you could possess. Of course, if you did go with HC3, you’d be a pioneer of new technology who would be an ideal asset for any forward thinking IT department.

  • You are defined by your aging certifications.

You worked hard and paid good money to get certifications in storage systems, virtualization hypervisors, server hardware, and even disaster recovery systems that are still around. You continue to use these same old technologies because you are certified in them, and that gives you leverage for higher salary. Newer technologies hold less interest because they wouldn’t allow you to take advantage of your existing certifications.

HC3 is probably not for you. HC3 is based on new infrastructure architecture that doesn’t require any expensive certifications. Any IT administrator can use HC3 because it was designed to remove reliance on legacy technologies that were too complex and required excessive expertise. HC3 won’t allow you to leverage your certifications in these legacy technologies. Of course, with all of the management time you’d save using HC3, you’d be able to learn new technologies and expand your skills beyond infrastructure.

  • You like going to VMworld every year.

You’ve been using VMware and going to VMworld since 2006 and it is a highlight of your year. You always enjoy reuniting with VMworld regulars and getting out of the office. It isn’t as useful as it was earlier on but you still attend a few sessions along with all of the awesome parties. Life just wouldn’t be the same without attending VMworld.

HC3 is probably not for you. HC3 uses a built-in hypervisor, alleviating the need for VMware software and VMware software licensing. Without VMware, you probably won’t be able to justify your trip to VMworld as a business expense. Of course, with all the money you will likely save going with HC3, your budget might be open to going to even more conferences to help you develop new skills and services to help your business grow even faster.

  • You prefer working late nights and weekends.

The office and better yet, the data center, are a safe place for you. Whether you don’t have the best home life or you prefer to avoid awkward social events, you find that working late nights and weekends doing system updates and maintenance a welcome prospect. We get it. Real life can be hard. Solitude along with the humming of fans and spinning disks offers an escape from the real world.

HC3 is probably not for you. HC3 is built to eliminate the need to take systems offline for updates and maintenance tasks so these can be done at any time, including during normal business hours. HC3 doesn’t leave many infrastructure tasks that need to be done late at night or on weekends. Of course, if you did go with HC3, you’d probably have more time to and energy to sort out your personal life and make your home and your social life more to your liking.

Summary

HC3 may not be for everyone. When change is difficult to embrace, many choose to stick with the way it has always been done. For others, however, emerging technologies like HC3 are a way to constantly evolve with architecture that lowers costs with simplicity, scalability, and availability for modern IT.

Backup is No Joke

Today is World Backup Day and a reminder to everyone about how important it is to backup your data. Why today? What better day than before April Fools Day to remember to be prepared for anything. You don’t want to be the fool who didn’t have a solid backup plan.

But what is a backup? Backing up business critical data is more complex than many people realize which may be why backup and disaster recovery plans fall apart in the hour of need. Let’s start with the basic definition: A backup is a second copy of your data you keep in case your primary data is lost or corrupted. Pretty simple. Unfortunately, that basic concept is not nearly enough to implement an effective backup strategy.  You need some additional considerations.

  1. Location – Where is your backup data stored? Is it on the same physical machine as your primary data? Is it in the same building? The closer your backup is to the primary data, the more chance your backup will suffer the same fate as your primary data. The best option is to have your backup offsite, physically removed from localized events that might cause data loss.
  2. Recovery Point Objective – If you needed to recover from your backup, how much recent data would you lose? Was your last backup taken an hour ago, a day ago, or a week ago? How much potential revenue could be lost along with the data you can’t recover? Taking backups as frequently as possible is the best way to prevent data loss.
  3. Recovery Time Objective – How long will it take to recover your data? If you are taking backups every hour but it takes you several hours or longer to recover from a backup, was the hourly backup effective? Recovery time is as important as recovery point. Have a plan for rapid recovery.
  4. System Backup – For a long time, backups only captured user and application data. Recovery was painful because the OS and applications needed to be rebuilt before restoring the data. These days, entire servers are usually what is backed up, increasing recovery speed.
  5. Multiple Points in Time – Early on, many learned the hard way that keeping one backup is not enough. Multiple backups from different points in time were required for a number of reasons. Sometimes backups failed, sometimes data needed to be recovered from further back in time, and for some businesses, backups need to be kept for years for compliance. The more backups, the more points in time that data can be recovered from.
  6. Backup Storage – One of the greatest challenges to backup over the decades has been storage. Keeping multiple copies of your data quickly starts consuming multiples of storage space. It just isn’t economical to require 10x or more of the storage of your primary data for backup. Incremental backups, compression, and deduplication have helped but backups still take lots of space. Calculating the storage requirements for your backup needs is essential.

Are snapshots backups? Sort of, but not really. Snapshots do provide recovery capabilities within a local system, but generally go down with the ship in any kind of real disaster. That being said, many backup solutions are designed around snapshots and use snapshots to create a real backup by copying the snapshot to an offsite location. These replicated snapshots are indeed backups that can be used for recovery just like any other form of backup.

Over the decades, there have been a variety of hardware, software, and service-based solutions to tackle backup and recovery. Within the last decade, there has been an increasing movement to include backup and recovery capabilities within operating systems, virtualization solutions, and storage solutions. This movement of turning backup into a feature rather than a secondary solution has only been gaining momentum.

With the hyperconvergence movement, where virtualization, servers, storage, and management are brought together into a single appliance-based solution, backup and disaster recovery are being included as well. Vendors like Scale Computing are providing all of the backup and disaster recovery capabilities you need. Scale Computing even offers their own cloud-based DRaaS as an option.

So today, on the eve of April Fools Day, let’s remember that backup is no joke. Businesses rely on data and it is our job as IT professionals to protect against the loss of that data with backup. Take some time to review your backup plans and find out if you need to be doing more to prevent the next data loss event lurking around the corner.

Is Hyperconvergence Here to Stay?

As virtualization continues to evolve into hyperconvergence, cloud, and other technologies, both IT professionals and analysts are looking into the future to predict the velocity, direction, and longevity of these technologies. Business leaders want their spending decisions to be based on the latest intel and technologies that will carry their business into the future.

Analysts George J. Weiss and Andrew Butler from Gartner have put together their predictions on the future of hyperconvergence in this recent report: Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyperconvergence

Scale Computing has been a leader in hyperconvergence, helping define the current evolution of hyperconvergence with innovative storage architecture and unsurpassed simplicity.  Whatever the future holds for the evolution of hyperconvergence, Scale Computing plans to be at the forefront of hyperconvergence innovation.  We expect to continue delivering the simplicity, scalability, and availability our customers have come to expect from hyperconvergence.

One Customer’s Experience With Scale Computing

At Scale Computing, we do our best not only to build the best solutions for our customers, but also to explain why our solutions really are the best to those still deciding on a solution. In reality, no one can explain it as well as one of our actual customers.

This week we have the opportunity to share the Scale Computing experience of Nathan Beam of Bridgetree in his own words, on his own blog. Here is the link:

Simply Hyper-converged – An Overview of Scale Computing’s Easy-To-Use HC3 Virtualization Platform

Just to pull a quick quote: “My own experience and pretty much that of every other customer testifies to the fact that we all love our product. I searched long and hard trying to find unhappy owners of HC3 equipment… to this day I still don’t know if any exist.”

We look forward to sharing more of our user experiences with you in the future. If you are another HC3 user who wants to share your story here, contact me: dpaquette@scalecomputing.com. To see some of our other customer success stories, check out our case studies. For additional customer reviews, check out our page on the Spiceworks Community.