All posts by David Paquette

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

Hyperconverged infrastructure is a fairly new but rapidly growing technology. It’s natural to want to research new technologies like hyperconvergence and unless you are an insider, you likely have questions. Here at Scale Computing, we are experts in hyperconverged infrastructure. We were not only an early innovator in hyperconvergence but we were the first to combine a purpose built hypervisor with a hypervisor-embedded storage system designed specifically for hyperconverged infrastructure.

Between our Product Team, our R&D Team, our Systems Engineers, our ScaleCare Support Team, and really everyone else, we have the expertise you need to learn whether hyperconvergence is right for your IT department. Our award-winning HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure solution is not only one of the most innovative, but definitely the easiest to use. It is so easy to use, in fact, that not everyone can believe it.  We are here to assure you that it is real and we’ll answer all your questions to prove it.

We’ve taken the time to compile some our most frequently asked questions into our helpful new FAQ for HC3. Hopefully this document helps answer some of your initial questions. As you can imagine, we get a variety of questions ranging from general hyperconvergence concepts to specific questions about third party solutions. If you don’t find an answer in the FAQ, we’ll be happy to answer your questions by email, phone, or in person at one of the many events we host or attend.

If you are an existing customer, new customer, or just extra curious, we also have put together our helpful new FAQ for ScaleCare Support. This document will answer nearly all your questions about our expert support, how to use it, and what’s included. Our ScaleCare Support Engineers are experts at everything HC3 and much more. We are happy to help answer any questions about your new or existing HC3 system.

There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when it is about new technology and platforms that run our businesses and industries. Feel free to ask away. Contact us at 877-SCALE-59 or info@scalecomputing.com.

 

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

Okay, I’m not really a doctor, but my nickname here at Scale Computing is Doctor P.  Regardless, your trust is very important to me and everyone else here at Scale. We work hard to provide products like HC3 along with services and support you can trust.

Trust can be hard to quantify but I believe our ratings and reviews we receive from our users and partners are a good reflection of that trust. Having been involved for several years in the online user community of Spiceworks, we have received 49 reviews from users and partners. All 49 reviews have given Scale Computing a 5 out of 5 star rating. Those reviews are all available on Spiceworks here.

More recently, we’ve joined TrustRadius to learn how our users and partners rate us in a more comprehensive way.  So far on TrustRadius, we’ve received 56 ratings and reviews. As a result of these ratings and reviews, we’ve earned an overall rating of 9.4 out of 10 on TrustRadius. Those ratings and reviews are available on TrustRadius here.

If you’re still on the fence about hyperconverged infrastructure or HC3 from Scale Computing, we welcome you to let us earn your trust. The trust and satisfaction of our users and partners is what keeps us working hard each day to keep improving our products and services. We’re committed to revolutionizing IT infrastructure with simplicity, efficiency, and lower costs of ownership. If you haven’t already, join one of our live demos to see for yourself what makes Scale Computing different.

 

Another DR Planning Reminder – Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey is an on-going disaster of epic proportions. Flood waters are still receding in the hardest hit areas of Texas and Louisiana while the remnants of Harvey are dumping rain in Tennessee.  The flooding has affected millions of people and the devastation affecting their lives may take years to recover from. Relief agencies that are working to help the victims of Harvey need support now and will continue to need support for many months to come.

In addition to acknowledging the cost in human suffering, we shouldn’t ignore the financial costs dealt to businesses affected by this disaster. Some of these businesses may never recover from this disaster because of the extent of the devastation, and in some cases, because of insufficient disaster preparedness.

The full extent of the damage will not be known for some time, but it is safe to believe that with over 50 inches of rain falling in Houston and surrounding areas, some businesses had their servers and data storage literally underwater.

Radar Image from Weather Underground  on August 25.

I personally have been involved in creating disaster recovery solutions for IT for over 18 years.  In this industry, no one welcomes disasters and they are not viewed as events to capitalize on.  They are instead taken as harsh realities from which springs renewed desire to improve the way IT is protected and recovered.  The lessons we learn from each disaster elevate our efforts to prevent the loss of business critical data and services.  And when I say business, that includes government and other organizations whose IT services may be critical to responding to disasters of all shapes and sizes.

Harvey is a reminder that disasters can and will happen and your primary data center could be at ground zero despite your best preparations. Are you prepared to recover from such a loss? Do your disaster recovery (DR) plans do enough to ensure recovery from a total loss of a data center? There are plenty of DR solutions and strategies available today to make sure you can recover from even a regional disaster like a hurricane.

Hyperconverged infrastructure solutions that combine servers, storage, virtualization, and backup/DR solutions into a single appliance can help. With traditional infrastructure solutions that have servers, storage, virtualization, and backup/DR as separate solutions, things get very complicated and often very expensive. Hyperconverged infrastructure provides simplicity starting with rapid, easy implementation and ongoing simplicity through unified management, unified support, and seamless scalability.

Scale Computing’s HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure solution is a prime example of simplified infrastructure that includes robust high availability and backup/disaster recovery at no extra cost. HC3 includes incremental backup, replication, failover, restore, failback as native features while Scale Computing also offers disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) for organizations who want or need a hosted DR site with their HC3 infrastructure. On top of the native features, HC3 supports a wide variety of third party backup/DR solutions including traditional backup/DR players like Unitrends, zero-downtime and real-time replication solutions like DoubleTake Availability from Carbonite, and newer backup/DR appliance solutions like Restoronix, to name just a few.

If you’ve been watching Harvey and wondering how you can implement a better DR plan that is both simpler and more cost effective, you should be looking at an infrastructure solution like HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure. Scale Computing offers DR planning services to make sure your data and critical services are protected while also providing a DR runbook (also provided with DRaaS) that will be your guide should disaster strike.

For more information on how you might better plan for DR, check out this white paper, Disaster Recovery Strategies with Scale Computing.

Aligning the Stars and Planets

This week, on Monday, there was an alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun that caused a total solar eclipse across North America. Here in Indiana we didn’t get the total eclipse, but I sat on my porch and watched it with my eclipse glasses, anyway. It was pretty cool. Another thing that happened this week was a call with an IT shop that wasn’t ready to adopt hyperconvergence because of too many sunk costs. These seemingly unrelated events clicked with me on a topic I have been talking about a lot recently. When is it time to make a change.

Here is a photo of the partial eclipse peeking through the clouds, taken from southern Indiana and courtesy of Jana Bowers.

Many years ago, my best friend called me to ask for advice. He and his wife were thinking about having kids but weren’t sure if they were ready. He needed some guidance and I got the impression he was waiting for the stars or planets to align. I still don’t know why he asked me. I was not married and did not have kids at the time. I was not even close to be married or having any kids. But, I gave him the best advice I had. I told him, “You are never going to be ready. You will always be able to find a reason not to do it. So just go for it and figure it out as you go.” It seems to have been great advice because they have 2 great kids and make a great family.

The stars and planets occasionally do align and those looking up get to see some cool astronomical effects. However, if your business plans include waiting for a number of factors to align naturally before you take action, you are probably costing yourself more than you think. What makes things worse, is that many of these factors are controllable, but you might feel trapped by decisions you’ve made in the past like the sunk costs I mentioned earlier.

What is a sunk cost? It could be a number of things. It could be some equipment you purchased that has not yet been fully depreciated. It could be an employee you hired with a specific set of skills. It could be a contract you signed with a service provider to maintain some current systems. It could be a specific software solution you implemented that has proven complex enough to dictate many of your other IT solution decisions. The burden of these past decisions can make it seem impossible to change, especially when these decisions have only made your IT environment more and more complex.  

Hyperconvergence takes the approach of simplifying IT infrastructure. Maybe you hired Bob because of his expert storage skills and Susan because of her expert virtualization skills. Moving to a hyperconverged infractructure (HCI) solution that simplifies both storage and virtualization will undermine your investment in Bob and Susan, right? Well, you probably also hired Bob and Susan because they were expert problem solvers and innovators, as well. They likely have the capacity to add great value beyond their initial skill sets. Instead of having to use their skills to maintain an overly complex storage and virtualization system, wouldn’t you rather they focus their energies on improving IT and business processes and implementing a better set of applications?

What about that hardware you already bought? Was it servers? Was it storage appliances? Both? It hasn’t lived out it’s useful life yet so why replace it? Well, you have to replace it eventually. Are you really getting the value out of it that you intended, or is it just another part of an overly complex architecture for which you needed to employ those experts like Bob and Susan to maintain? When you bought that hardware, you probably didn’t know how much you could potentially save by switching to HCI because HCI was still emerging in the market. Could the savings of HCI actually offset the sunk costs of the hardware even without depreciation? They very well might.

And what about that service provider you are contracted with for your IT solutions? That relationship doesn’t necessarily need to go away, but as with Bob and Susan, perhaps the focus of the work can be shifted to more productive activity than maintaining complex, expensive systems. Your service provider still wants your business, and you likely have more power than you think in dictating how their side of the service contract can be utilized more effectively for you.

Finally you may have that one software system that seems to only work with that complex IT infrastructure behind it. Is it really worth continuing to let that system drag so much complexity and cost behind it or are there alternative solutions you can look to that can be implemented in truly software-defined, virtualized environment without specialized storage, servers, or networking?

If you are waiting for all of these factors to align themselves at some point so that you can change to a simpler, more cost-effective solution that will start saving you now and in the future, you’ll likely end up continuing down the same path. Instead, you really have the ability to decide to start simplifying and saving now, forcing those other factors to align as you go forward. As for the eclipse, that happened at it’s own time and place, completely out of your control. With your IT infrastructure, you have the control over when change happens regardless of sunk costs. It’s up to you to align those factors by being bold and making simplicity and cost savings a priority over feeling trapped by past decisions. 

If you want more information about how HCI can lower costs by simplifying IT, contact Scale Computing at 877-SCALE-59 or info@scalecomputing.com to schedule a free TCO assessment.

What’s New – August 2017 Edition

Last week, we held a webinar to talk about what is new in HC3 these days. We are doing these “What’s New” webinars every six months so if you want to be informed and have the chance to ask questions to our product management team, you should attend. Today I am going to summarize some of the topics from last week’s webinar for you.

If you have been following along closely, you’ll have noticed we’ve been leaking mentions of our newest HC3 models in previous webinars.

HC1150DF

The first new model we have available is the HC1150DF, our first ALL-FLASH appliance. If your applications need screaming fast performance, you can’t get much faster than the HC1150DF.  Like the HC1150D, the HC1150DF has dual processors for higher performance computing. The HC1150DF can be mixed and matched with existing HC3 product lines which allows users to dial in the exact amount of flash needed in their environment.  See the latest support matrix for specifics.

HC5150D

The new HC5150D is a storage-heavy HC3 appliance with 12 drives including 3 SSDs and 9 NL-SAS drives for 3X the storage capacity of the HC1150s. It is a dual processor appliance with plenty of storage capacity to pack in the VMs. The HC5150D can be mixed and matched with other HC3 appliances including the new HC1150DF (see the latest support matrix for specifics).  

There are the baseline specs and U.S. pricing. Regional pricing is available upon request. Click the image to make it a bit bigger and easier to read.

Along with these new models comes the new HyperCore version 7.3 with new features and functionality.

Storage Deduplication and Improved Detail

HyperCore 7.3 added storage deduplication to reduce the storage footprint of data stored on virtual machines. Virtual disks are deduplicated, post-process to eliminate duplicate data blocks and free up storage with minimal impact to running VMs. With deduplication, disks can hold considerably more data than previously allowed within the same physical disk capacity. Along with the deduplication, the storage details available in the HC3 Web interface have significantly improved with more information on utilization and efficiency.

Multi-Cluster Remote Management

With HyperCore 7.3, we’ve made available the ability to monitor multiple clusters within the HC3 Web Interface. The intuitive design shows the status of multiple clusters that can be local or remote to keep tabs on your entire enterprise of HC3 nodes and clusters. Whether they are single nodes in remote offices or DR targets, or multi-node clusters, the new multi-cluster view provides at-a-glance monitoring of all your HC3 assets.

Multi-User Administration and Logging

With HyperCore 7.3, we’ve introduced multi-user login and administration so you can better manage your multiple admins.  Multiple users may login with their own credentials to perform their own administrative functions. Logging keeps track of administrator access to assist in management and troubleshooting.

Important note: HyperCore version 7.3 is not yet generally available, but is in restricted availability and will be made available to other HC3 users later this year.

Those were the new models and features in a nutshell. If you would like more information about what is new with HC3, you can use the links below to get access to a recording of last week’s webinar and our What’s New guide.

August 3rd Webinar Recording

What’s New in HC3 Guide

 

Change is Difficult. Implementation can be Easy.

No one relishes the idea of changing out IT infrastructure, except maybe consultants and contractors who are willing to get paid big bucks to help you do it. It can be hard enough deciding when to make the change, and then shopping for new solutions. Then there is the new implementation. Migrating workloads from older systems to newer systems has historically been a minefield of issues and delays.

Does that image reflect any of your own experiences?

Implementing a new IT infrastructure doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t need those expensive consultants and contractors if you choose the right solution. Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is designed to be simpler, easier to implement, and easier to scale out. If you choose the right HCI solution, like HC3 from Scale Computing, it can be almost too easy to believe.

HC3 is an appliance-based approach to virtualization that has preconfigured all of the storage, compute, and virtualization needed for IT infrastructure. A cluster of HC3 appliances can be up and running with live VMs in under an hour. If you don’t believe us, just listen to the Scale Computing customers.

The next question you will undoubtedly have is about migration of workloads. ScaleCare support assists customers with migration using our HC3 Move solution, powered by Double-Take Move. Workloads can be migrated from any physical, virtual, or even cloud platforms to HC3 with almost no downtime. HC3 Move makes moving workloads both simple and efficient.

With HCI, implementation simply does not need to be difficult. Don’t let the fear of a complex implementation delay your decision to update your infrastructure to a solution that will be easier to manage, maintain, and ultimately save you on total cost of ownership. Check out HC3 from Scale Computing to see how you can refresh with ease and eliminate complex and difficult IT infrastructure challenges from your future.

Healthcare Runs on HC3

When it comes to IT, healthcare organizations face many of the same challenge as any other organization including limited budgets and scalability. Healthcare organizations also face challenges related to storing, managing, and protecting critical patient data and research data and keeping systems available to handle critical care.

Healthcare organizations of all types have been choosing HC3 hyperconverged infrastructure from Scale Computing to serve their IT infrastructure needs. HC3 offers simplicity, scalability, availability, and affordability to organizations who need to streamline operations with a reliable solution. Whether a healthcare organization is specialized in emergency services, mental health, medical imaging, research, or any other aspect of care, HC3 is a smart choice.

These are just a few of the healthcare organizations that have chosen HC3 for IT infrastructure. Click on the company logos to get the full success stories.

“Our vision is to be THE national model for patient centered care. An integral part of that process is ensuring that our IT systems can keep up with our growing staff and patient needs. With the help of HC3, our small IT department has found the bandwidth needed to not only keep us running, but developed new programs and processes that help us move toward our vision.” – Renee Jensen, CEO, Summit Pacific Medical Center

“HC3 is a huge advantage from the standpoint of managing your infrastructure. Instead of a separate interface for every layer in the environment, you are condensing it into a single tool.” – Greg Starnes, Network Coordinator, Families, Inc

“I think I could have gotten the same thing done [with the HP blade server and Hyper-V solution], but it would have been infinitely more complex, time consuming and nowhere near as redundant as what I’ve got with HC3.” – Chuck Myers, System Administrator, Medical Imaging Northwest

“The Scale solution is perfect for our environment. As well as simplified management, the face value of the Scale solution has saved us over £80,000. This is an amazing cost reduction and we can put this money to use elsewhere.” –  Matthew Underhill, IT Team Leader, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine


Technology Becomes Obsolete. Saving Does Not.

The list of technological innovations in IT that have already passed into obsoletion is long. You might recall some not so ancient technologies like the floppy disk, dot matrix printers, ZIP drives, the FAT file system, and cream-colored computer enclosures. Undoubtedly these are still being used somewhere by someone but I hope not in your data center. No, the rest of us have moved on. Technologies always fade and get replaced by newer, better technologies. Saving money, on the other hand, never goes out of style.

You see, when IT pros like you buy IT assets, you have to assume that the technology you are buying is going to be replaced in some number of years. Not replaced because it no longer operates. It gets replaced because it is no longer being manufactured or supported and has been replaced by newer, better, faster gear. This is IT. We accept this.

The real question here is, are you spending too much money on the gear you are buying now when it is going to be replaced in a few years anyway? For decades, the answer is mostly yes, and there are a two reasons why. Over-provisioning and complexity.

Over-Provisioning

When you are buying an IT solution, you know you are going to keep that solution for a minimum of 3-5 years before it gets replaced. Therefore you must attempt to forecast your needs for 3-5 year out. This is practically impossible but you try. Rather than risk under-provisioning, you over-provision to prevent yourself from having to upgrade or scale out.  The process of acquiring new gear is difficult. There is budget approval, research, more guesstimating future needs, implementation, and risk of unforeseen disasters.

But why is scaling out so difficult? Traditional IT architectures involve multiple vendors providing different components like servers, storage, hypervisors, disaster recovery, and more. There are many moving parts that might break when a new component is added into the mix. Software licensing may need to be upgraded to a higher, more expensive tier with infrastructure growth.  You don’t want to have to worry about running out of CPU, RAM, storage, or any other compute resource because you don’t want to have to deal with upgrading or scaling out what you already have. It is too complex.

Complexity

Ok, I just explained how IT infrastructure can be complex with so many vendors and components. It can be downright fragile when it comes to introducing change. Complexity bites you when it comes to operational expenses as well. It requires more expertise, more training, and tasks become more time consuming. And what about feature complexity? Are you spending too much on features that you don’t need? I know I am guilty of this in a lot of ways.

I own an iPhone. It has all kinds of features I don’t use. For example, I don’t use Bluetooth. I just don’t use external devices with my phone very often. But the feature is there and I paid for it.  There are a bunch of apps and feature on my phone I will likely never use, but all of those contributed to the price I paid for the phone, whether I use them or not.

I also own quite a few tools at home that I may have only used once. Was it worth it to buy them and then hardly ever use them? There is the old saying, “It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” There is some truth to that and maybe that is why I still own those tools.  But unlike IT technologies, these tools may well be useful 10, 20, even 30 years from now.

How much do you figure you could be overspending on features and functionality you may never use in some of the IT solutions you buy? Just because a solution is loaded with features and functionality does not necessarily mean it is the best solution for you. It probably just means it costs more. Maybe it also comes with a brand name that costs more. Are you really getting the right solution?

There is a Better Way

So you over-provision. You likely spend a lot to have resources and functionality that you may or may not ever use. Of course you need some overhead for normal operations, but you never really know how much you will need. Or you accidently under-provision and end up spending too much upgrading and scaling out. Stop! There are better options.

If you haven’t noticed lately, traditional Capex expenditures on IT infrastructure are under scrutiny and Opex is becoming more favorable. Pay-as-you-go models like cloud computing are gaining traction as a way to prevent over-provisioning expense. Still, cloud can be extremely costly especially if costs are not managed well. When you have nearly unlimited resources in an elastic cloud, it can be easy to overprovision resources you don’t need, and end up paying for them when no one is paying attention.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is another option. Designed to be both simple to operate and to scale out, HCI lets you use just the resources you need and gives you the ability to scale out quickly and easily when needed. HCI combines servers, storage, virtualization, and even disaster recovery into a single appliance. Those appliances can then be clustered to pool resources, provide high availability, and become easy to scale out.

HC3, from Scale Computing, is unique amongst HCI solution in allowing HCI appliances to be mixed and matched within the same cluster. This means you have great flexibility in adding just the resources you need whether it be more compute power like CPU and RAM, or more storage. It also helps future proof your infrastructure by letting you add newer, bigger, faster appliances to a cluster while retiring or repurposing older appliances. It creates an IT infrastructure that can be easily and seamlessly scaled without having to rip and replace for future needs.

The bottom line is that you can save a lot of money by avoiding complexity and over-provisioning. Why waste valuable revenue on total cost of ownership (TCO) that is too high. At Scale Computing, we can help you analyze your TCO and figure out if there is a better way for you to be operating your IT infrastructure to lower costs. Let us know if you are ready to start saving. www.scalecomputing.com

What Shirts Taught Me About Scale Computing

When I started at Scale Computing everything seemed pretty normal. There was a startup vibe. There were Nerf guns everywhere. There was an open office concept going on. It wasn’t until a few days went by that I noticed something that seemed odd. My new coworkers were wearing Scale Computing branded shirts to the office nearly every single day.

Were there some special events going on? Special visitors to the office? No, it turned out that these guys and gals just preferred to wear these shirts. No one talked about it, and it was not suggested or required. It was just part of the culture.

Ok, at my former employer, where I worked for 17 years, I had built up quite a wardrobe of company branded shirts. Because of that, I did end up wearing them fairly often. It wasn’t the same as what was happening at Scale. People were making a point to wear their shirts to represent Scale Computing. From this gesture, I really got the feeling that my coworkers believed in the company in a way I had not experienced before.

Of course, it wasn’t just the shirts. It was more. It was the shared idea that we could create the best solution in IT infrastructure. It was the positive attitudes. It was the high-fives. It was the encouragement between coworkers that lifted everyone up. It was the cheers every time we closed a deal. It was everything. But for me, it started with the shirts. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Recently when having lunch with a partner who was visiting our office, the partner asked why everyone was wearing Scale branded shirts in the office. What was the occasion? It gave me a great sense of pride to explain that it was just a normal day at Scale Computing. It is more common to see a Scale employee in a Scale shirt than not. It’s just who we are.

I know these are just shirts. Every company has shirts. I just know they mean more at Scale Computing. Wearing my Scale shirt is a source of pride in a company I believe in, where I love working, and where I feel at home.

The Value of Customer Support

IT is an arena for problem solvers and innovators. As much as every IT administrator may be looked at as an all-knowing demigod of technology, we know that many of those super powers come from sources like web research and tech support hotlines. Good technical customer support from vendors can be the greatest asset an IT administrator has for dealing with any problem, great or small.

From initial implementation to disaster recovery, good support can be the difference in you being a hero or a villain in the eyes of your bosses. Having help only a phone call away can save you both time and money when it comes to finishing your projects on time and within budget. Without good support, you are subject to delays, finger-pointing, increased project costs, and it may even put your own job in jeopardy.

At Scale Computing, we think support is as valuable and as important as our products, maybe even more valuable. Even though we design our products for simplicity, scalability, and high availability to make them easy to use for anyone, we believe you should get the best support when you do need it. We have a #bestever philosophy of making each interaction with our support team the best ever for each customer.

I could go on and on about why our support is the best about why we have a Net Promoter Score of 87 for our support. Instead, I am going to let some of our customer quotes from our TechValidate surveys speak for themselves.

These are just a few of the great quotes we have gotten from our customers. This kind of feedback is why we keep working hard  to provide that #bestever support our customers have come to expect from Scale Computing.

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