With a title like Death by 1,000 cuts: Mainstream storage array supplies are bleeding, I couldn’t help but read Chris Mellor’s article on the decline of traditional storage arrays. It starts off just as strong with:
Great beasts can be killed by a 1,000 cuts, bleeding to death from the myriad slashes in their bodies – none of which, on their own, is a killer. And this, it seems, is the way things are going for big-brand storage arrays, as upstarts slice away at the market…
And his reasons as to why are spot on from what we have seen in our target customer segment for HC3.
…the classic storage array was under attack because it was becoming too limiting, complex and expensive for more and more use-cases.
Looking at our own use-case for HC3, storage array adoption for our target segment (the SMB) rose with the demand for virtualization, providing shared storage for things like live migration and failover of VMs. It was a necessary evil to know that critical workloads weren’t going to go down for days or even weeks in the event of a hardware failure. Continue reading
With an infrastructure refresh on the horizon, a common question asked in IT used to be:
“What should I buy today that will meet my storage demand over the next X years?”
Historically, that is because IT groups needed to purchase today what they would need 3-5 years from now in order to push out a painful forklift upgrade that would inevitably come with reaching max capacity in a monolithic storage array. After the introduction of “scale-out” storage (where you were no longer locked into the capacity limitations of a single physical storage array), the question then became:
“What should I buy today that will
meet grow alongside my storage demand over the next X years?”
This meant that customers could buy what they needed for storage today knowing that they could add to their environment to scale-out the storage capacity and performance down the road. There were no forklift upgrades or data migrations to deal with. Instead, it offered the seamless scaling of storage resources to match the needs of the business.
Now with hyperconverged solutions like HC3 where the scale-out architecture allows users to easily add nodes to infrastructure to scale out both the compute and storage, the question has changed yet again. Hyperconverged customers now ask themselves:
“What should I buy today that will
meet grow alongside my storage infrastructure demand over the next X years?”
Adding nodes to HC3 is simple. After racking and plugging in power/networking, users simply assign an IP address and initialize the node. HyperCore (HC3’s ultra-easy software) then takes over from there seamlessly aggregating the resources of that node in with the rest of the HC3 cluster. There is no disruption to the running VMs. In fact, the newly added spindles are immediately available to the running VMs giving an immediate performance boost with each node added to the cluster. Check out the demo below to see HC3’s scalability in action!
There was a recent article that focused on the benefits that city, state and local governments have gained from implementing HyperConvergence (Side Note: for anyone interested in joining, it was brought to my attention on a new HyperConvergence group on LinkedIn where such articles are being posted and discussed). The benefits cited in the article were:
- Ease of management,
- Fault tolerance,
- Redundancy, and late in the article…
I’m sure it isn’t surprising given our core messaging around Scale’s HC3 (Simplicity, High Availability and Scalability), but I agree wholeheartedly with the assessment.
It occurred to me that the writer literally could have picked any industry and the same story could have been told. When the IT Director from Cochise County, AZ says:
“I’ve seen an uptick in hardware failures that are directly related to our aging servers”,
It could just as easily have been the Director of IT at the manufacturing company down the street. Or when the City of Brighton, Colorado’s Assistant Director of IT is quoted as saying,
“The demand (for storage and compute resources) kept growing and IT had to grow along with it”,
That could have come out of the mouth of just about any of the customers I talk to each week. Continue reading
I read a recent blog post from VMware’s Chuck Hollis that attempted to define and compare the terms Converged Infrastructure vs. Hyper-Converged and Hypervisor-Converged Infrastructure.
As is usually the case, I thought Chuck did a great job cutting through vendor marketing to the key points and differences, beginning with his quote that “Simple is the new killer app in enterprise IT infrastructure.” And we would echo that is even more true in the mid-sized and smaller IT shops that we focus on.
But eventually vendor biases do surface. Especially in an organization like VMware with many kinds of partners and a parent company with a hardware centric legacy. That’s not a bad thing, and I’m sure I will show my vendor bias as well. At Scale Computing we focus exclusively on mid-size to small IT shops and are therefore biased to view the world of technology through their eyes.
As background, we would consider our HC3 products to be “hypervisor converged infrastructure” as our storage functionality is built in to the hypervisor which are both run in a single software OS kernel. I would consider hypervisor-converged to be a specific case or sub-set of hyper-converged, which simply means you have removed an external storage device and moved the physical disks into your compute hosts which also run the hypervisor code. (how the hypervisor gets to those disks is the difference in manageability, performance, complexity – see Craig Theriac’s blog series – The Infrastructure Convergence Continuum ) Continue reading
There was a recent article on Network Computing regarding the Next Generation Data Center that got me thinking about our SMB target customer and the next generation server room. Both the enterprise and the SMB face the influx of traffic growth described in the article (clearly at different levels, but an influx none-the-less). So how will the SMB cope? How will an IT organization with the limited resources of time and money react? By focusing on Simplicity in the infrastructure.
Elimination of Legacy Storage Protocols through Hypervisor Convergence
There is an ongoing trend to virtualize workloads in the SMB that traditionally meant adding a SAN or a NAS to provide shared storage for high availability. With the introduction of Hypervisor Converged architectures through products like Scale’s HC3, that requirement no longer exists. In this model, end users can take advantage of the benefits of high availability without the complexity that comes with legacy storage protocols like iSCSI or NFS. Not only does this reduce the management overhead of the shared storage, it also simplifies the vendor support model dramatically. In the event of an issue, a single vendor can be called for support with no ability to place the blame on another component in the stack.
Simplicity in Scaling
Moore’s Law continues to hold as better, faster and cheaper equipment becomes available year after year. By implementing a scale-out architecture in the infrastructure, IT organizations can take advantage of this by purchasing what they need today knowing that they can purchase equipment at tomorrow’s prices to scale-out the resources when the need arises. Combined with the ability to mix and match hardware types in a hypervisor converged model also means that users have granularity in their scaling to match the requirements of the workloads at that time (such as adding a storage-only node in HC3 to a compute cluster to scale out only the storage resources). Continue reading
This past week I have been at the MidMarket CIO Forum in beautiful Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. It is a fun event with very intimate boardroom style sessions that give vendors a chance to sit down with CIOs to discuss industry trends, their current problems and our potential solutions. In each of our sessions there was at least one CIO saying something along the lines of, “I see the value of HC3, but I have already invested in VMware. How can you work in my environment?” This is usually in a lamenting tone after we have described the added cost that they likely paid for the licensing, implementation, hardware (SAN/NAS), and training associated with a traditional Do-it-Yourself virtualization deployment. (Side story…one potential customer told us his woes of sending a sysadmin off to a week long VMware training only to have him return to leave for another job weeks later. Ouch!).
Since it came up so often, I thought a quick blog post was warranted in case there are others out there asking the same question.
VMware customers coming to HC3 for their Primary Infrastructure
Many customers come to us having used VMware in the past. Most have implemented VMware in the traditional “inverted pyramid of doom” style (to steal a spiceworks-ism) with a handful of host servers connected down to shared storage through redundant switches. Often they come to us when it is time to refresh either a SAN or NAS or when looking to add a new host into their environment (which can push their VMware licensing cost up significantly as they jump from Essentials Plus or another 3 host package into a more enterprise license). When we talk to potential customers in this situation, it is not uncommon to hear things like “For the price of replacing my SAN, I could have an entire HC3 cluster?” or “For the price of just the licensing, I can put in a new HC3 system?”. There are several examples of this in our customer success stories that I recommend reading through if interested.
VMware customers purchasing HC3 as a Disaster Recovery Site
Customers who have already made a heavy investment in VMware for their primary site, but still want to take advantage of the simplicity and affordability of HC3 still have an option. Instead of purchasing and implementing the same VMware environment that they have in place at their primary site, this group of users can implement an HC3 system along side HC3 Availability to replicate data from their primary site to the HC3 system. In the event of a failure at the primary site, HC3 Availability will detect the failure and can automatically (or manually if you’d rather) bring up those VMs on HC3. Here is a video of Dave Demlow walking through the HC3 Availability product which demonstrates the failover process from VMware to HC3:
We have admittedly seen this approach act as a “trojan horse” where users begin with HC3 as a DR target, but fall in love with the simplicity of adding new highly available VMs. At the time of that next server/SAN refresh cycle, those customers often replace their primary site with HC3 as well.
If you have any questions on making the jump from VMware to HC3, please feel free to reach out to us for more information.
Recently, I sat down with @davidmdavis of www.virtualizationsoftware.com to discuss Scale’s HC3 and the general trend of Hypervisor Convergence. David kept the perspective of a VMware administrator coming to HC3 for the first time, which allowed me to highlight the simplicity of HC3 compared to a traditional VMware virtualization deployment. Hope you enjoy!
Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange is one of the primary use cases that we see for HC3 customers. A general move to virtualizing Exchange has gained traction as companies take the normal cycle of hardware refreshes and Operating System upgrades as an opportunity to consolidate servers in a virtualized environment. These companies seek to take advantage of:
- Better availability;
- Flexibility in managing unplanned growth (both performance and capacity); and
- Lower costs from better hardware utilization. Continue reading
Many of Scale’s HC3 customers are coming to us from a traditional Do-It-Yourself virtualization environment where they combined piecemeal parts including VMware’s hypervisor to create a complex solution that provides the high availability expected in their infrastructure. Fed up with the complexity (or more often the vTax on a licensing renewal) associated with that setup, they eventually find HC3 as a solution to provide the simplicity, scalability and high availability needed at an affordable price.
I just returned from the Midmarket CIO Forum last week where 98% of the CIOs I spoke to had implemented some form of the VMware environment described above (the other 2% were Hyper-V, but the story of vTax still rang true!). We met with 7 boardrooms full of CIOs who all reacted the same to the demo of HC3: “This sounds too good to be true!” To which I like to reply, “Yeah, we get that a lot.” 🙂
After the initial shock of seeing HC3 for the first time, pragmatism inevitably takes over. The questions then became, “How do I migrate from VMware to HC3?” or “How can I use HC3 alongside my existing VMware environment?” I spent the majority of my week talking through the transition strategies we have seen from some of the 600+ HC3 customers when migrating from VMware to HC3 VMs (V2V process). Continue reading