Tag Archives: SMB

3-Node Minimum? Not So Fast

For a long time, when you purchased HC3, you were told there was a 3 node minimum. This minimum of 3 nodes is what is required to create a resilient, highly available cluster. HC3 architecture, based on this 3 node cluster design, prevents data loss even in the event of a whole node failure. Despite these compelling reasons to require 3 nodes, Scale Computing last week announced a new single node appliance configuration.  Why now?

Recent product updates have enhanced the replication and disaster recovery capabilities of HC3 to make a single node appliance a compelling solution in several scenarios. One such scenario is the distributed enterprise. Organizations with multiple remote or branch offices may not have the infrastructure requirements to warrant a 3 node cluster. Instead, they can benefit from a single node appliance as a right-sized solution for the infrastructure.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 2.06.52 PM

In a remote or branch office, a single node can run a number of workloads and easily be managed remotely from a central office. In spite of the lack of clustered, local high availability, single nodes can easily be replicated for DR back to an HC3 cluster at the central office, giving them a high level of protection. Deploying single nodes in this way offers an infrastructure solution for distributed enterprise that is both simple and affordable.

Another compelling scenario where the single node makes perfect sense is as a DR target for an HC3 cluster. Built-in replication can be configured quickly and without extra software to a single HC3 node located locally or remotely. While you will likely want the local high available and data protection a 3-node cluster provides for primary production, a single node may suffice for a DR strategy where you only need to failover your most critical VMs to continue operations temporarily. This use of a single node appliance is both cost effective and provides a high level of protection for your business.

Replication

Finally, although a single node has no clustered high availability, for very small environments the single node appliance can be deployed with a second appliance as a DR target to give an acceptable level of data loss and availability for many small businesses. The ease of deployment, ease of management, and DR capabilities of a full blown HC3 cluster are the same reasons to love the single node appliance for HC3.

Find out more about the single node appliance configuration (or as I like to call it, the SNAC-size HC3) in our press release and solution brief.

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HyperConvergence for the SMB

Scott D. Lowe authored a fantastic article on HyperConverged.org last week that focused on where HyperConvergence is NOT a fit.  It is not an angle you hear often from a proponent of HyperConvergence and I have to admit…I like it.

At Scale, we have a laser-like focus on serving the IT infrastructure needs of small-to-medium sized businesses.  Similar to Scott Lowe’s approach in his article, it is as important to define our target customer as it is to define who is NOT our target customer.  When it comes down to it, a large company who has IT employees that specialize in every component in the infrastructure (think SAN or network admin, etc.) may never fully appreciate the simplicity of HC3 or may even be somewhat threatened by it. Continue reading

The King is Dead. Long Live the King!

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

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

What is Hypervisor Convergence: The Infrastructure Convergence Continuum Blog Series – DIY Architecture (Part 1 of 4)

Converging the hardware and software components needed in an SMB virtualization deployment is a hot trend in the industry.  Terms like “converged infrastructure”, “hyper-convergence”, “hypervisor convergence” and “software-defined (fill in the blank)” have all emerged alongside the trend and just as quickly as they were defined, most have lost their meaning from both overuse and misuse.

In this series of blog posts, we will attempt to re-establish these definitions within the framework of the Convergence Continuum below:

Infrastructure Convergence Continuum

 Before we address convergence though, let’s set the stage by describing the traditional model of creating a virtualization environment with high availability.

Build Your Own / DIY

This is typically made up of VMware or Hyper-V plus brand name servers (Dell, HP, IBM, etc.) acting as hosts and a SAN or NAS (EMC VNXe, Dell Equallogic, HP Lefthand, NetApp, etc.) networked together to provide redundancy.  The DIY architecture is tried and true and effectively offers all of the benefits of single server virtualization such as partitioning, isolation, encapsulation and hardware independence along with High Availability of VMs, when architected correctly.  An example architecture might look like:

DIY Virtualization Architecture
DIY Virtualization Architecture

The downside to this approach is that it is complex to implement and manage.  Each layer in the stack adds an added management requirement (virtualization management, SAN/NAS management and Networking Management) as well as an additional vendor in the support environment, which often leads to finger pointing without strict adherence to the hardware compatibility list of each company.  This complexity is a burden for those who implement a DIY environment, as it often requires specialized training in one or more of the layers involved.  The IT generalist in the mid-market targeted by Scale Computing often relies on a Value Added Reseller to implement and help manage such a solution, which adds to the overall cost of implementing and maintaining.

Monolithic Storage – Single Point of Failure

The architecture above relies on multiple servers and hypervisors having the ability to share a common storage system, which makes that system a critical single point of failure for the entire infrastructure. This is commonly referred to in the industry as 3-2-1 architecture with 1 representing the single shared storage system that all servers and VM’s depend on (also called the inverted pyramid of doom).  While “scale-out” storage systems have been available to distribute storage processing and redundancy across multiple independent “nodes”, the hardware cost and additional networking required for scale out storage architectures originally restricted these solutions to very selected applications.

Down the Path of Convergence

Now that we have the basics of the DIY Architecture down, we can now continue down the path of convergence to Reference Architectures and Converged Solutions, which we will define in our next post.  Stay tuned for more!

 

Scale’s HC3 through the lens of a VMware Administrator with David Davis

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 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

Disaster Recovery and Backup Strategies for the SMB

When infrastructure (server or storage) fails in a traditional, physical environment, there is typically resulting downtime while a complex and lengthy recovery from backups is reconstituted.  In most cases, this requires time obtaining and setting up identical replacement hardware, then additional time to recover the operating system, applications and data from the backups. Continue reading

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.