Tag Archives: scale computing

SMB IT Challenges

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…
  • Scalability.

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

The Next-Generation Server Room

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

Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange on HC3

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

A Move from VMware to HC3

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

Five Business Reasons Why Developers and Software Ecosystems Benefit from KVM

By: Peter Fuller, Vice President of Business Development and Alliances, Scale Computing

As the VP of Business Development and Alliances for Open Virtual Alliance Member Scale Computing, I work with a diverse group of top players in the software ecosystem. While many have KVM compatible products as full virtual appliances, others are building business cases to justify the minor engineering expense required to develop KVM-compatible versions of their VMware, Citrix or Hyper-V solutions.

This KVM question has isochronously emerged as a discussion point with my business development peers this year. It is not a hard apologetic to form since KVM support is: 1) adopted, 2) supported and crowd sourced, 3) independent, 4) a quickly profitable engineering exercise and 5) freely available.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits:

(1) KVM is Adopted & Mature

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) works in the Linux kernel as an open source, free component for Linux on x86 hardware that contains Intel VT or AMD-V extensions. With KVM, multiple unmodified Linux or Windows images can run as virtual machines on a single processor.

KVM is growing at 60% year over year in terms of new server shipments virtualized, with over 100,000 shipments and nonpaid deployments worldwide over the past 12 quarters.1 The worldwide virtual-machine software market was on track to grow to over $3.6 billion in 2012, up from $3.0 billion the year before, a 19.3% year-over-year growth.2

KVM is also the standard for OpenStack. In fact, 71% of OpenStack deployments use KVM.

The technology is also very mature. According to CloudPro, KVM held the top 7 SPECVirt benchmarks, outperforming VMware across 2, 4 and 8 socket servers. As CloudPro mentions, it is very rare that an open source solutions meets so many commercial specifications.3

(2) KVM is Supported & Crowd Sourced

Both IBM and Red Hat announced significant investments in KVM. Unlike VMware, the many results of those investments won’t be locked behind intellectual property laws. The companies are contributing much of its KVM development to the open source community.

This investment was important for Scale, not because we use Red Hat branches of KVM, but because it will undoubtedly attract publishers into the technology and legitimized it as an enterprise-class hypervisor.

The growing ecosystem of KVM supporters is proof. The OVA has over 300 members of software ad hardware vendors, and continues to add to its ranks daily. This collective pool of companies contributes code back to the community, allowing each company indirect access to each other’s open development initiatives. Hundreds of thousands of non-member Linux developers also add to the crowd-sourced technologies that companies like Scale can use. Additionally, the Linux Foundation recently announced that the OVA would become an official collaborative project.

Ecosystem developers benefit from this crowd-sourced adoption of KVM in ways they can’t leverage with commercial solutions like VMware. For starters, commercial virtualization solutions are

(3) KVM is Independent & Adaptive

The independence of KVM contributes to fecundity of its code. Hundreds of thousands of Linux developers around the world develop technologies for Linux and KVM—without restrictions associated with corporate IP protection.

While the permanency of any company is in continual state of ambiguity, corporations are far more labile than un-owned open source code. KVM will be around forever; there’s little risk supporting it.

The biggest challenges to the viability of some hypervisor providers are the open source headwinds wreaking havoc on their financial models. Specialized vendors like VMware don’t have the product diversity outside of their hypervisor that cushion companies like Microsoft and Citrix. As the hypervisor becomes a commodity, revenues are made on the management tools and licensed annually. This stress already pushed VMware to compete with its partners. Just this year, the company released a V-SAN product in direct completion to Nutanix and Simplivity.

(4) KVM is Easily Convertible & Supporting it is Profitable

I like to use a basic supply and demand argument support KVM development: while there’s an infinite supply of a vendor’s code, there will always be a finite supply of a customer’s cash.

To save that finite cash pool, roughly 70 percent of corporations use KVM as a secondary hypervisor to avoid licensing costs for non-production virtual machines. This install base represents a huge market that is quickly migrating KVM to the primary position in order to reduce recurring licensing costs.

Converting is Easy

In most cases, converting from a mainstream hypervisor to KVM is relatively simple. In fact, one of our alliance partners added KVM support to its robust backup software in just a week. The conversion from VMDK to QCOW2 (KVM) is fairly straightforward.

(5) The Hypervisor is a Commodity, Why Pay for It?

Hypervisors are a commodity. With Intel’s VT and AMD’s V chipset, KVM calls directly into the virtualization stack provided by those manufacturers at the chip level. There’s no need to pay license charges for solutions that use software to perform the virtualization tasks Intel and AMD provide in the hardware. A light kernel-based piece of code calling directly into the processor greatly increases the speed and efficiency of the virtualization experience. Additionally, since both Intel and AMD are committed to open technologies and the leverage publishers will get from these two companies is significant.

Conclusion

For ecosystem developers, the value extracted from the community translates into engineering efficiencies, faster feature development and flexibility, potentially millions of dollars in savings on engineering costs, and the ability to maintain price elasticity in a highly competitive ecosystem.

KVM has a large install base, major investors, commercial momentum and crowd-sourced development momentum. Spending a few weeks to add KVM support to existing applications will open new markets for developers while opening the door to new found capital efficiencies and faster development times.

______________

1IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker, March 2013

2Worldwide Virtual Machine Software 2012-2016 Forecast, IDC #235379, June 2012

3 http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/iaas/virtualization/5278/kvm-should-it-be-ignored-hypervisor-alternative/page/0/1

HC3x: Introducing Scale Computing’s all performance SAS product line

“Good news everyone!” HC3x has just been announced.  For the last few months, we have internally referred to this platform under the code name “MegaFonzie.”  Those of you familiar with Futurama probably know that Mega Fonzies are units used to determine how cool someone is (hence the picture of Professor Farnsworth) …and HC3x is off the charts!  If your response is, “Balderdash…I’ll be the judge of what’s cool” then grab your cool-o-meter and let’s walk through this new hardware together.

Reflections From HC3 Customers

It’s always good to reflect on the feedback you are being given.  So I wanted to take some time and share some of the comments that I have received about HC3 *Only names have been changed due to shyness.

“The Tired IT Commuter”

 “Ronald” is the lone IT person at his company. He’s spread across three educational sites managing 100 servers and 500 desktops.  He has to commute up to 50 miles in-between all of these sites. I could hear the tiredness in his voice and when he saw the solution that I was introducing him to, that tiredness turned into excitement. All servers, across all sites, managed by a single browser – it was the simple answer to a question he’d pondered for years.

“The Jaded CTO”

I spent time with another customer, “Tony,” who originally was quoted a monolithic virtualization solution. He is the CTO of a manufacturing company and upset because he could not justify the price for an enterprise solution when he was not an enterprise company.  His needs were different and he didn’t need everything that was being sold to him.  He searched for a reason not to purchase a solution from Scale Computing since we were not an incumbent solution. During my onsite install with him, I asked about his purchasing decision and he told me that we gave him everything he needed.  If he needed extra features, he would buy them from third-party vendors but he appreciated that he wasn’t forced into buying them.

“The Prudent Admin”

Lastly, I discussed the infrastructure needs of a long-time storage customer of mine, “Jared.”  He was burdened by the aspects of virtualization that required him to construct an environment from disparate parts. I asked him why he didn’t just add virtualization into the existing Scale Computing storage that he previously purchased. He was dumbfounded. The shift of simply expanding his existing technology had not occurred to him since it is so foreign in IT technology.  Once he learned that it was as simple as adding HC3 into his existing Scale storage, he never looked back.

The vast majority of people I talk to echo these sentiments, and as you can see, my team does not simply ship product and move on.  We are proud that we can help these customers build a solution that works well for their companies. As one IT person to another, I am glad that we can work together to build something better.

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

Why IBM, HP, Dell, EMC, Oracle, VMware, Cisco and Others Will NEVER Give You What You Really Need

I’m going to put the Value Chain on hold for a post or two because I want to explore some other stuff with you.  I was on a trip recently and met with a number of existing and prospective Scale Computing VAR partners and potential customers.  The conversations were pretty normal for a company like ours, one that has brought to market a unique solution – our hyperconverged HC3 product.  The discussion of why Scale is here and how we are being successful in the face of major competition always comes up.

The answer:  The reason companies like ours exist is to solve problems that the big guys can’t or won’t. Continue reading

Acronis Gives you Highly Accessible Data on Scale’s Highly Available Hyperconverged Platform

We just announced a relationship with Acronis. The company is a fast-growing backup and recovery company with tens of thousands of customers around the planet. We partnered with them because they offered an advanced feature set for virtualization that complimented the snapshot and recovery features inherent in HC3.

One of the most important reasons we partnered with Acronis wasn’t just their solid technology; we like their long-term vision. The company is moving quickly to be a purveyor of data high accessibility. I’m sure you’ve heard that HA means high availability. With the Acronis and Scale Computing combination, it means both. Continue reading