Data Storage: Hyperconvergence Buying Guide
Hyperconvergence is a term we are hearing more about these days in the IT sector, including in the data storage market. So what does it actually mean and how can the user differentiate the various products that claim to fall under this umbrella?
For the purposes of this buying guide, we’re defining hyperconvergence as integrating commodity hardware in a single appliance, as opposed to having three separate boxes tied together with software – such as vBlock and FlexPod.
In a sense, it is a subset of the larger software defined data center concept.
“The integration and intelligence is what allows for performance and resource optimization,” said Vanessa Alvarez, Director of Marketing at Scale Computing. “That can't be achieved when you have three boxes.”
Here’s a resource to learn more about the overall idea of hyperconvergence.
In this guide, we are going to detail products from Scale Computing, SimpliVity, Pivot3 and Nutanix. VMware vSAN could also be a candidate, but that was covered in an earlier guide.
SimpliVity OmniCube is a scalable IT platform that is said to deliver storage, compute, hypervisor, cache accelerated performance, native VM-centric backup and replication for DR, and public cloud. For VM-based applications, its data architecture includes inline deduplication, compression, and optimization on disk IO’s. OmniCube Federation allows it to span data centers. Each 2U OmniCube supports horizontal scale-out for availability and expansion.
OmniCube starts at $32,000, which includes data protection and DR capabilities. This entry version includes 8-core CPU, 128 GB RAM, 4xSSD, 8xHDD, 2x10GbE and 2x1GbE. Also included are virtual storage control, wizard-based setup, VMware vSphere client integration, visibility of inline dedupe and compression rates for each VM and backups, ability to perform fast VM backups, restores, clones and moves within and across data centers .
“OmniCube eliminates the need for storage arrays, SAN networking, backup and replication software, disk-to-disk dedupe appliances and other legacy technologies,” said Tom Grave, Vice President of Marketing at SimpliVity.
Pivot3 vSTAC R2S P Cubed Rapid Horizon Appliance aims to avoid the complexities associated with VDI deployments, while reducing both CAPEX and OPEX. Based on an x86 architecture, vSTAC R2S appliances provide a preconfigured VMware Horizon Suite (View, Mirage and Workspace) environment that is said to enable users to deploy a VDI environment of 100 desktops in less than 60 minutes and a Workspace environment in under 2 hours. Via a shared storage pool, storage performance is load-balanced across appliances.
Scale out is achieved by adding a vSTAC R2S appliance to the array, with each unit able to host 115-155 desktops. Utilizing VMware View Storage Accelerator, users gain the benefit of in-memory caching performance to deal with a VDI’s demanding storage requirements. Part of the allure is that it aims to bypass the steep storage learning curve of typical VDI environments. As well as rapid deployment, it comes with dual power supplies, failover protected storage and vSphere HA. List pricing for the vSTAC R2S starts at $31,999.
“Pivot3 is the only out-of the-box VMware Horizon Suite infrastructure product using virtualization technology to create multiple virtual machines and aggregate appliances into a virtualized SAN,” said Olivier Thierry, chief marketing officer at Pivot3. “Desktops do not need to be individually pre-defined for usage levels.”
The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform consolidates compute and storage systems into an integrated appliance. It is said to integrate easily with any virtualized environment and power any application. Storage is integrated into the Nutanix platform with server attached media such as SSDs and HDDs. This eliminates the need for central storage arrays like SAN/NAS. It comes with failover, snapshots, cloning, deduplication, compression and disaster recovery, delivered as software features on commodity hardware. Policies are managed per VM. Pricing ranges from $20,000 to $70,000 per node.
“Nutanix has thousands of nodes in production at some accounts,” said Howard Ting, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Nutanix.
Scale’s HC3 product includes storage, server, and virtualization in one appliance. It leverages a Linux-based KVM (kernel-based virtual machine), which eliminates the need for any kind of licensing. The company hopes to differentiate itself in this way as the licensing models of most competitors are VMware-based.
HC3 uses commodity hardware and integrates it with its ICOS software to deliver a virtualization platform. This facilitates direct access of storage to the hypervisor, and takes away any obstacles in the I/O path. It achieves this by placing server virtualization software on every node with access to a single pool of storage that can span multiple HC3 nodes.
“HC3 pools compute resources such as CPUs and memory and automatically starts workloads on the node with the most available resources,” said Alvarez. “This clustered architecture provides the fault tolerance and scalability needed for a high-availability environment and simplifies management. It eliminates the guessing game of trying to figure out how much storage you need for your VMs, and the need for any kind of unnecessary upfront CAPEX investment.”