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
Coming off of a whirlwind quarter, I wanted to share some great insights that I gathered at Midsize Enterprise Summit (MES). This event is designed to bring IT executives together who are interested in virtualization and new technologies to help them run a better infrastructure environment. It was great to get a sense for where our customers are thinking of going. SMB, mid market, enterprise, all have challenges in optimizing their infrastructure, but mid market in particular, have specific challenges around needing scalability because they have a growing business, but also efficiency because they have a growing business but don’t have the resources and budget to do that. There’s also so much unpredictability in the growth of the data, the need for new applications, and forecasting for capacity is just not feasible.
“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.
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.
Today, Scale Computing released results of a market survey conducted by ApplicationContinuity.org. Sponsored by the developers of HC3, the report showcases why midmarket organizations are embracing on-premise virtualization over the cloud, the driving factors behind this decision, and what alternatives companies are choosing for their mission-critical applications and data. More than 3,000 IT professionals in the US participated in the recent survey, which shows that nine-out-of-ten midsize companies prefer to keep their critical applications and data local and that cost and complexity remain key concerns for both cloud and on-site virtualization. For a complete list of survey findings, download the free report by visiting: http://bit.ly/CloudTakesABackSeat.
A few posts ago we walked through the process of creating a new VM on HC3. One thing you may have noticed is that nowhere in the process did we specify a physical location for that VM to be created, and even when we powered it on, once again we did not specify a physical location for that VM to run. We just created it and turned it on. Beyond the simplicity that presents, that highlights some very important concepts that make HC3 uniquely scalable and flexible.
In the last post, we discussed how HC3 VM virtual hard disk are actually stored as files (qcow2) format, and even how we can access those files for advanced operations. But once again, we didn’t discuss (or need to discuss) where the data for those files physically resided.
We will dig into this much further but the real magic of HC3 is that all nodes share access to a single pool of storage – all the disks in all nodes of the cluster are pooled together as a common resource for storing and retrieving data. That happens automatically when the HC3 cluster is “initialized” and requires no additional management by the user, even as additional nodes are added to the resource pool down the line.
Because all HC3-capable nodes read and write data using the entire pool of storage and all HC3 nodes have access to all the data, any virtual machine can be started on any node of the HC3 cluster based on the availability of compute resources that VM requires. For example, if a new VM requires 16GB RAM there may only be certain nodes with that much currently available and HC3 makes this node selection automatically. HC3 allows running VMs to be “live migrated” to other HC3 nodes without the VM being shutdown and with no noticeable impact to the workload being run or clients connecting to it. In addition, should an HC3 node fail, any VMs that were running on that node will be quickly re-started on remaining nodes since every HC3 node has access to the same pool of redundant storage. Once again since the storage is available to all nodes in the HC3 system, the primary factor for determining where to failover VMs is availability of compute resources required by each workload and HC3 determines the optimal location automatically.
For those who are more visual (like me) the following diagram may help to picture this more clearly.
In the next post of this series, we will dive into the HC3 distributed storage layer and detail how data is stored across all the physical disks in the cluster providing data redundancy should a disk drive fail and aggregating the I/O performance of all the drives in the system.
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
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