Tag Archives: hypervisor

HC3 vs VMware vs. Hyper-V for SMBs : Part 1

There are plenty of articles, reviews, blogs and lab reports available that provide various comparisons of different software, hardware and architectural options for leveraging the benefits of server and storage virtualization.

I’m going to try to tackle the subject through the eyes of a “typical” IT director or manager at a small to mid size business (SMB)  … the kind of user that we see a lot of here at Scale Computing, particularly since the launch of our HC3 completely integrated virtualization system that integrates high availability virtualization and storage technologies together into a single easy to manage system. Continue reading

Virtualization Even Your Grandma Can Understand

As a follow up to my last post, Virtualization So Easy Even a Four-Year-Old Can Do It, I want to continue to focus on the simplicity that virtualization can and should be.  Yet explaining what virtualization actually is, can be a complicated task to anyone not in technology. The hypervisor splits the computers. Huh? They are virtual machines! That just sounds like bad 3D from the 90’s. There are many machines in one. That just sounds like too much information (and awkward). You as an IT professional should be able to explain to your grandma not only what you do, but virtualization as well. Let me share the best ways I’ve learned over the years for doing just that. Continue reading

HC3 Under the Hood: Virtual Hard Disks and CD/DVD Images

In the last post of this series, we walked through the process of creating a VM on the HC3 platform.  In just a few clicks, you create a virtual machine container and allocate CPU, memory, and storage resources to that VM. When you start the VM and install your operating system and applications, that storage is presented as virtual hard disks and will appear like a virtual c:\ or d:\ drive to your applications.

HC3 Virtual Disks in Windows Device Manager
HC3 Virtual Disks in Windows Device Manager

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StorageCraft Helps “Rap” Your Physical Machines onto HC3

Virtualization is a hot topic in the SMB sector and I’m glad that we’ve been able to partner with StorageCraft. The company provides a unique time-based tool to help move physical machines into the virtual world. Called the StorageCraft Shadow Protect IT Edition, the product comes on a USB key and siphons all necessary files from your physical servers and makes them ready for deployment onto the HC3 platform. Continue reading

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.

 

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

VIDEO: The Twelve Networking Truths – RFC 1925 Truth No. 5

RFC 1925 Truth No. 5: “It is always possible to aglutenate multiple separate problems into a single complex interdependent solution. In most cases this is a bad idea.”

So to paraphrase truth No. 5, complexity is a bad thing.  However, this is exactly how virtualized infrastructures are built today. Continue reading

Under the Hood – HC3 Architectural Design Goals

The first two posts of this series discussed the high availability and ease of use requirements that went into the design of HC3.  With those overarching user needs as a backdrop, we will now transition into a more technical look under the hood at the hardware and software aspects of the HC3 system.

HC3 and the ICOS (Intelligent Clustered Operating System) that it runs on were designed to put intelligence and automation into the software layer allowing the system to provide advanced functionality, flexibility and scalability using low cost hardware components, including the virtualization capabilities built into modern CPU architectures.  Rather than “scaling up” with larger, more expensive hardware that also requires equally expensive idle “standby capacity” to operate in the event of a failure, HC3 was designed to aggregate compute and storage resources from multiple systems into a single logical system with redundancy and availability designed in. Continue reading