Tag Archives: scale computing

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.

 

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 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 Price Is Right

The Price Is Right is of the longest running game show on television and one of the most beloved. I grew up watching it hosted by Bob Barker and it is still going today, hosted by Drew Carey. The show features a variety of challenges for players but most of them involve guessing at the retail price of various products ranging from groceries all the way up to vehicles and vacation packages. The concept of guessing at prices reminded me of shopping for IT solutions.

I’m sure most of you know what I am talking about. You start researching various hardware and software solutions but you quickly find that the price is not readily available. You have to contact the vendor for pricing. Why? Often they can’t even give you a ballpark estimate. Why? The answer is simple, but awful. They want to charge you the highest price possible and the only way to do that is withhold pricing until they have sufficiently worked you over with a double whammy of sales and marketing.

IT is a cost center. We all accept this. Organizations don’t want to spend any more on IT than is necessary, but it is necessary, at least to a point. These vendors want to artificially build up that need for more and more before they hit you with a price because they want you to spend more.

Personally, I hate this practice of withholding pricing. I want to have an idea of what a solution costs up front when I am researching. I don’t need a sales guy smooth talking me to soften the blow of the price. I’m an adult. I know how money works. This practice is all too common in IT solution sales. That’s why I love Scale Computing. We are different.

Did you see what I did there? Pricing for our HC3 systems. Not all the pricing. We have a lot of configuration options and it would be a feat of engineering to try to show everything. Base pricing to give you a starting point. Pricing that includes 1 year of maintenance and support. Why are we different? Well, we just think our pricing is fair to begin with. We don’t want you to have to guess. Don’t guess. Those are per node prices and we gave you a couple examples to get you started. We just want you to get a great solution at a great price.

Can you afford it? We will work with you to get you exact pricing on the configuration you need and nothing more. We can do an assessment of what you need and show you some of the costs of integration, management, maintenance, and support that come with or without our HC3 solution. If the numbers don’t add up, that’s fine. We won’t sell you a solution that you can’t afford, don’t want, or won’t work for you. We think you will want it and probably can afford it. In fact, you might find out that you can’t afford NOT to have it.

By the way, that pricing is available in our HC3 Sales Brochure right on our website. For more information on some of the tertiary costs of IT ownership, check out this white paper, “How HC3 Lowers the Total Cost of Infrastructure”.

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.

 

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.

Scale Computing – A Year in Review 2016

It’s that time of the year again. December is winding to a close and the new year is almost here. Let me first say that we here at Scale Computing hope 2016 was a positive year for you and we want to wish you a wonderful 2017. Now, though, I’d like to reflect back on 2016 and why it has been such an outstanding year for Scale Computing.

“And the award goes to…”

Scale Computing was recognized a number of times this year for technology innovation and great products and solutions, particularly in the midmarket. We won awards at both the Midsize Enterprise Summit and the Midmarket CIO Forum, including Best in Show and Best Midmarket Strategy. Most recently, Scale Computing was honored with an Editor’s Choice Award by Virtualization Review as one of the most-liked products of the year. You can read more about our many awards in 2016 in this press release.

Scenes from the 2016 Midsize Enterprise Summit

 

News Flash!

2016 was the year Scale Computing finally introduced flash storage into our hyperconverged appliances. Flash storage  has been around for awhile now but the big news was in how we integrated it into the virtualization infrastructure. We didn’t use any clunky VSA models with resource-hogging virtual appliances. We didn’t implement it as a cache to make up for inefficient storage architecture. We implemented flash storage as a full storage tier embedded directly into the hypervisor. We eliminated all the unnecessary storage protocols that slow down other flash implementations. In short, we did it the right way. Oh, and we delivered it with our own intelligent automated tiering engine called HEAT. You can read more about it here in case you missed it.

Newer, Stronger, Faster

When we introduced the new flash storage in the HC3, we introduced three new HC3 appliance models, the HC1150, HC2150, and HC4150–significantly increasing speed and capacity in the HC3. We also introduced the new HC1100 appliance to replace the older HC1000 model, resulting in a resource capacity increase of nearly double over the HC1000. Finally, we recently announced the preview of our new HC1150D that doubles the compute over the HC1150 and introduces a higher capacity with support of 8TB drives. We know your resource and capacity needs grow overtime and we’ll keep improving the HC3 to stay ahead of the game. Look for more exciting announcements along these lines in 2017.

Going Solo

In 2016, hyperconvergence with Scale Computing HC3 was opened up to all sorts of new possibilities including the new Single Node Appliance Configuration. Where before you needed at least three nodes in an HC3 cluster, now you can go with the SNAC-size HC3. (Yes, I am in marketing and I make up this corny stuff). The Single Node allows extremely cost effective configurations that include distributed enterprise (small remote/branch offices), backup/disaster recovery, or just the small “s” businesses in the SMB. Read more about the possibilities here.

 

Cloud-based DR? Check

2016 was also the year Scale Computing rolled out a cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offering called ScaleCare Remote Recovery Service. This is an exclusive DR solution for HC3 customers that want to protect their HC3 workloads in a secure, hosted facility for backup and disaster recovery. With per-monthly billing, this service is perfect for organizations that can’t or don’t want to host DR in their own facilities and who value the added services like assisted recovery and DR testing. Read more about this DRaaS solution here.

Better Together

2016 has been an amazing year for technology partnerships at Scale Computing. You may have seen some of the various announcements we’ve made the past year. These include Workspot whom we’ve partnered with for an amazingly simple VDI solution, Information Builders whom we partnered with for a business intelligence and analytics appliance, Brocade who we’ve most recently joined in the Brocade Strategic Collaboration Program to expand the reach of hyperconvergence and HC3, and more. We even achieved Citrix Ready certification this year. Keep an eye out for more announcements to come as we identify more great solutions to offer you.

The Doctor is In

It wouldn’t be much of a new year celebration without a little tooting of my own horn, so I thought I’d mention that 2016 was the year I personally joined Scale Computing, along with many other new faces. Scale Computing has been growing this year. I haven’t properly introduced myself in a blog yet so here it goes. My name is David Paquette, Product Marketing Manager at Scale Computing, and they call me Doctor P around here (or Dr. P for short). It has been a fantastic year for me having joined such a great organization in Scale Computing and I am looking forward to an amazing 2017.  Keep checking our blog for my latest posts.  

Just me, Dr. P

 

Sincerely, from all of us at Scale Computing, thank you so much for all of the support over the past year. We look forward to another big year of announcements and releases to come. Of course, these were just some of the 2016 highlights, so feel free to look back through the various blog posts and press releases for all of the 2016 news.

Happy New Year!

IT Infrastructure: Deploy. Integrate. Repeat.

Have you ever wondered if you are stuck in an IT infrastructure loop, continuously deploying the same types of components and integrating them into an overall infrastructure architecture? Servers for CPU and RAM, storage appliances, hypervisor software, and disaster recovery software/appliances are just some of the different components that you’ve put together from different vendors to create your IT infrastructure.mobius

This model of infrastructure design, combining components from different vendors, has been around for at least a couple decades. Virtualization has reduced the hardware footprint but it added one more component, the hypervisor, to the overall mix. As these component technologies like compute and storage have evolved within the rise of virtualization, they have been modified to function but have not necessarily been optimized for efficiency.

Take storage for example.  SANs were an obvious fit for virtualization early on. However, layers of inefficient storage protocols and virtual storage appliances that combined the SAN with virtualization were not efficient. If not for SSD storage, the performance of these systems would be unacceptable at best. But IT continues to implement these architectures because it has been done this way for so long, regardless of the inherent inefficiencies. Luckily, the next generation of infrastructure has arrived in the form of hyperconvergence to break this routine.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) combines compute, storage, virtualization, and even disaster recovery into a single appliance that can be clustered for high availability.  No more purchasing all of the components separately from different vendors, no more making sure all of the components are compatible, and no more dealing with support and maintenance from multiple vendors on different schedules.

Not all HCI systems are equal, though, as some still adhere to some separate components.  Some use third party hypervisors that require separate licensing. Some still adhere to SAN architectures that require virtual storage appliances (VSAs) or other inefficient storage architectures requiring excessive resource overhead and require SSD storage for caching to overcome inefficiencies.

Not only does HCI reduce vendor management and complexity but when done correctly,  embeds storage  in the hypervisor and offers it as a direct attached, block access storage system to VM workloads. This significantly improves the I/O performance of storage for virtualization. This architecture provides excellent performance for spinning disk so when SSD is added as a second storage tier, the storage performance is greatly improved.  Also, because the storage is including in the appliance, it eliminates managing a separate SAN appliance.

HCI goes even further in simplifying IT infrastructure to allow management of the whole system from a single interface.  Because the architecture is managed as a single unit and prevalidated, there is no effort spent making sure the various components work together. When the system is truly hyperconverged, including the hypervisor, there is greater control in automation so that software and firmware updates can be done without disruption to running VMs.  And for scaling out, new appliances can be added to a cluster without disruption as well.

The result of these simplifications and improvements of infrastructure in hyperconvergence is an infrastructure that can be deployed quickly, scaled easily, and that requires little management. It embodies many of the benefits of the cloud where the infrastructure is virtually transparent.  Instead of spending time managing infrastructure, administrators can focus time managing apps and processes rather than hardware and infrastructure.

Infrastructure should no longer require certified storage experts, virtualization experts, or any kind of hardware experts. Administrators should no longer need entire weekends or month-long projects to deploy and integrate infrastructure or spend sleepless nights dealing with failures. Hyperconvergence breaks the cycle of infrastructure as a variety of different vendors and components. Instead, it makes infrastructure a simple, available, and trusted commodity.

Screenshot 2016-07-13 09.34.07