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HC3 Under the Hood: Creating a VM

In the last post of this series, we talked about how multiple independent HC3 nodes are joined together into a cluster that is managed like a single system with a single pool of storage and compute resources, as well as built-in redundancy for high availability.

For a quick review, the end-user view of this process is as simple as racking the nodes, connecting them to power and your network, giving them IP addresses, and assigning them to join a cluster.

You might expect after that there should be any number of steps required to configure individual disks into RAID arrays and spares. Then provision storage targets, sharing protocols and security, both physically and logically connect each shared storage resource to each compute resource with multiple redundant paths. Ultimately, configure a hypervisor to use that raw storage to create partitions and file systems to store individual data objects, such as virtual disks. Those would be the next steps with virtually ANY other system available.

Well, you don’t have to do any of that with HC3 because the storage layer is fully integrated with the compute hardware and virtualization software layers – all managed by the system.  Ah, management. So maybe now it’s time to install and configure a separate VM management server and management client software on your workstation to oversee all the virtualization hosts and software? Again, not with HC3 since the management layer is built-in and accessible simply by pointing your web browser to the cluster and logging in.

With HC3, you go right from configuring each node as a member of the HC3 system to pointing a web browser to HC3. And in a few clicks, you have created your first HC3 virtual machine.

This is definitely something that is best to see with your own eyes (or better yet, ask us for a demo and we will let YOU drive!). The HC3 system in this video already has a number of VMs running, but the process you will see here is exactly the same for the very first VM you create.

Creating a virtual machine is a simple process that is accomplished through the Scale Computing HC3 Manager web browser user interface. Selecting the ‘Create’ option from the ‘Virtualization’ tab allows the user to specify required and optional parameters for the virtual machine including:

• Number of virtual CPU cores

• RAM

• Number and size of virtual disks to create; and to

• Attach or upload a virtual DVD/CD ISO image for installing an operating system.

Creating the virtual machine not only persists those VM configuration parameters that will later tell the hypervisor how to create the virtual machine container when it is started, but it also physically creates files using the distributed storage pool that will contain the virtual hard disks to present to the VM once it is started. For maximum flexibility, we create those files inside a default storage pool container called VM to present a file/folder structure for organizing virtual machine files.  HC3 Virtual Machines are able to access their virtual hard disk files directly as if they are local disks, without the use of any SAN or NAS protocols, and can access those virtual disks from any node of the HC3 cluster – which is the key to capabilities like VM Live Migration and VM failover from node to node.

In the next post, we will dig into how HC3 virtual disks files are actually stored. As well as how you can optionally use the external storage protocol capabilities of HC3 to access and browse HC3 storage pools for VMs and ISO media image from remote machines.

 

Don’t Be Stupid When You Build Your Company!

In my last blog post, I talked about the differences between Objectives and Results and the mistakes companies (including salespeople) make in confusing the two. The point is that the Sale is not an objective, but a result of doing the right things – and doing enough of them. The same is true for companies and really needs to be looked at closely especially when building your tech company, whether you “write code” or “sell code”, i.e. develop technology or market/sell it.

Here is the thing that many tech companies get WRONG: you need to build the company to achieve the result you want. And to do that, you have to do it in a certain way. I call this the “Value Chain” because the steps are linked in a certain order and you can’t really skip steps or put them in the wrong order and still be successful (accidents of business or nature notwithstanding). Continue reading

What is Hyperconvergence?

Hyperconvergence is a term that sort of crept up on the market and has since stuck. It’s used to describe products like our HC3.  But what does hyperconvergence actually mean?

Active blogger and technologist Stevie Chambers wrote a well-thought article in which he defined hyperconvergence as an extension of the overall convergence trend, collapsing the datacenter into an appliance form factor. This is certainly true of the solutions that are available today. However, I believe he missed a key point (perhaps intentionally, as Stevie was in the CTO group at VCE when that blog was written). Continue reading

Ending the insanity with “The Pencil”

Awhile back, I was asked to have a discussion with someone that was looking into virtualization and SAN storage to build out a traditional virtual environment. The customer – an Equallogic fan – had already settled on a VMWare and Equallogic solution, but was still willing to talk. He had sent us the following excerpt from an email:

“I will be looking feature-wise at snapshot features and integration with Windows and VMWare. I’m sure Jack filled you in so there isn’t a need to belabor the point but I was extremely impressed with features from other vendors and honestly disappointed by the snapshot features on the Scale platform. But I will happily give you another chance to show me something I may have missed.”

This customer’s take was based on demonstrations from Lefthand and his own experience on his Equallogic gear that showed him outstanding integration with Windows and VSS for snapshots as well as tight ESX storage API integration – creating snaps that are application-aware and consistent, creating and managing iSCSI LUNs through vSphere, these sorts of things. He had already mentally accepted that the complexity of such a solution was a foregone conclusion and a necessary evil to realize the benefits of virtualization.

It was time to show him that there is a better way …. Continue reading

The Birth of Your Cluster: Scale Installations

*Guest blogger and Scale employee, Morgan Myers.

There are a few moments in life when you look at the world around you and truly feel connected. That moment when you hold a newborn in your arms and marvel at the complexities and joys of a new being, all of the infinitesimal parts that had to have come together to make the perfect whole, like a well-oiled, natural machine, is one of those moments. At Scale Computing, we want that moment for you when you look at your new HC3™ cluster. We want you to step back with awe and hope for the future, because that is what we believe our software holds for small-to-midsize businesses. Continue reading

Under The Hood: HC³ In Action – Cluster Formation

Previous posts in this series have discussed the ease of use and high availability design goals of the HC³ platform, as well as the hardware and high level software architecture. Now, lets roll up our sleeves and walk through how ICOS (Intelligent Clustered Operating System) takes a set of independent compute nodes with independent storage devices and aggregates them into a single pool of compute and storage resources that are managed as a single, redundant, highly available system.

Once the Scale HC³ cluster nodes are racked and cabled and configured with physical network connectivity, the cluster formation process takes multiple nodes (currently 3 or more) and logically bonds them together to act as a single coordinated system in a process that completes in a matter of minutes. Continue reading

Is VMware Headed for the Le Brea Tar Pits?

I recently received an inbound call from a value-added reseller looking for virtualization solutions for his SMB customers. The conversation began as they normally do: he heard something bout Scale Computing and our technology, but really didn’t understand what we were doing. He said—and I quote:

“It looks like you’ve virtualized all the core functions in the rack: servers, storage, networking. But that’s not really possible. So what is it you do?”

With a smile on my face that he couldn’t see, I simply replied “yes.” Continue reading

The Tricks the Old (Sales) Dogs Taught You Were Actually Dog $%#@!

Over my past few posts, we have talked a lot about vendors’ reseller programs and their relevance in today’s business climate, as well as the need for missionaries to take your technical message and solution to market.  Shifting gears today, let’s discuss how we all think about the most important of business processes: getting the sale.

I was young in technology sales at the time when technology sales were young too, and you didn’t get tossed into the water to see if you could swim or not.  The analogy was that the young sales guys were like the ‘new dogs.’  We were sent to work with the ‘old dogs’ so that they could show us how to do it.  Kind of makes sense, right?

Well, a lot of what the ‘old dogs’ taught us was complete BS. Or, maybe more appropriately, complete dog s$%&. Continue reading

Big Changes Start in the Midmarket

In my last post, I wrote about why we focus on midsize companies. I reminisced the Saturday mornings in the server room of the construction company where my dad worked, where I’d play with the data-entry station while my dad worked on whatever was the IT problem du jour.

If you missed that post, you might check out this video of our CTO, Jason Collier, and me talking about our midmarket focus, where we share a couple of stories about the roots of our market focus.

An interesting thing about the midmarket is this:  It is the most often overlooked segment of the market by large vendors and startups alike.  It’s a difficult market to reach, with layers of consultants and resellers, tight budgets, and small IT staffs.  But, there are hundreds of thousands of companies in the US alone that fit this profile. Continue reading