Monthly Archives: February 2016

Getting Hyper about Converged Infrastructure, Part 2

Did you like the title? Probably not as much as I do, because I love it! So much, I’ve decided to make this a series of posts.

Last time out, I opened with a discussion around converged infrastructure and the key considerations were:

  • Single vendor solutions from Oracle, HP, etc.
  • Choose your storage, with Cisco UCS-based solutions
  • Introducing an alternative with Hyper-Convergence
  • In this post (and the next) I want to focus on the last point, namely the Hyper-Converged solutions provided by Nutanix and SimpliVity, among others.

I make no secret that my experience to-date has certainly been with Converged Infrastructure, namely VCE Vblock, that means a high-end, pre-configured, tightly-coupled, potentially multi-million dollar solution with branded components from industry big-hitters, Cisco, EMC, HP, IBM, etc.

What I have discovered is that in recent years Converged Infrastructure advocates have looked down on the upstart Hyper-Converged vendors, so let’s explore three of the arguments put forward.

  • Enterprise Solutions need Big-SAN Storage
  • “Spaghetti Wiring” – how do I connect all those little boxes together?
  • Still need an expensive 10GbE infrastructure to make it truly scalable?

Enterprise Solutions need Big-SAN Storage

This is simply no longer true, I have been a big fan of the inline data services that Flash-technology has enabled vendors, such as in EMC with XtremIO, to implement in their high-end Flash-based storage offerings. That said, only last week VMware added deduplication and compression to their VSAN product, others such as DataCore SANsymphony-V have had these features and more for some years.

“Spaghetti Wiring” – how do I connect all those little boxes together?

CauVVQkW4AA1veII recently Tweeted a jokey comment about “Spaghetti Wiring” and how the 10s, 100s or even 1000s of these new hyper-converged boxes are connected together! Very pleased to share with you this photo, provided by Nutanix’ Webscale Webster (@vcdxnz001), showing that wiring is no more complicated than old-style integrated infrastructure. You have to admire the Nutanix color-coordination in that cabling!

 

 

Still need an expensive 10GbE infrastructure to make it truly scalable?

This last point I am leaving until my next post to explore in more detail, I need to get a little deeper into the network infrastructure needed to make Hyper-Converged Infrastructure as easy to implement as both Nutanix and SimpliVity claim. I did see this in a recent Principled Technologies Reference Architecture paper, commissioned by Dell;

“The Dell Networking S4048-ON 10/40 GbE top-of-rack Open Networking switch, Dell’s latest datacenter networking solution, is built to optimize performance, efficiency, flexibility, and availability in the modern datacenter. According to Dell, it offers a range of benefits, including: Low latency, High density, and Flexibility in the datacenter.”

As I’ve been looking more closely at Nutanix and Simplivity, I found two papers that provide the DeepDive analysis and testing that I have come to expect from both The Enterprise Strategy Group and Principled Technologies. Both are great resources and I recommend reading them;

Dell XC630-10 Nutanix on VMware ESXi, A Principled Technologies Reference Architecture

SimpliVity Hyperconverged Infrastructure, An ESG Lab Validation Report

To finish up this time, anyone with any interest in Hyper-Converged Infrastructure will want to tune in on Tuesday and see the latest on what EMC has to say about all this; The X Force in Hyper-Converged.

Before then, you can read two articles by The Register for background;

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As always, constructive comments/feedback welcome!

Yours, DBAStorage

 

Getting Hyper about Converged Infrastructure

Having long been interested in the Integrated Infrastructure space and discussion around Converged and Hyper-Converged infrastructure, here’s a first blog on the subject – reading the Oracle Private Cloud Appliance data sheet, it describes the formerly named Virtual Compute Appliance, as an integrated, “wire once,” software-defined converged infrastructure.

This got me thinking about the areas of choice available in Converged and Hyper-Converged infrastructure, so I decided to take a high-level look at the many virtualization-based solutions out there. The table below details the Vendor, Server Compute, Hypervisor and Data Fabric in the different solutions considered.

You will see the Converged Infrastructure space includes vendor-specific solutions from among others HDS, HP Enterprise and Oracle, and then multiple solutions based on Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure combined with FC Storage Arrays from EMC, IBM, NetApp and Pure.

I have only included Nutanix and Simplivity in the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure space, as vendors I am so far familiar with that provide both hardware and software solutions.

When considering Converged or Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, this summary overview highlights key considerations:

  • Choice of Hypervisor (VMware, Microsoft, KVM)
  • Choice of Data Fabric (Storage Array or SDS)
  • Choice of Management Software (Vendor or Multiplatform)
Vendor Management Compute Hypervisor Data Fabric
Hitachi Unified Compute Platform VMware vSphere, Microsoft Private Cloud Hitachi Compute Rack VMware ESXi,  Hyper-V HDS / Cisco or Brocade
HPE Helion OpenStack OpenStack CloudSystem HP Proliant DL Gen9 Servers OpenStack KVM HP / Cisco
Oracle Private Cloud Appliance Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c Oracle Server X5-2 Oracle VM Oracle ZFS / Infiniband
FlashStack, by Pure & Cisco VMware vSphere Cisco UCS VMware ESXi Pure / Cisco
FlexPod, by NetApp & Cisco VMware vSphere, Microsoft Private Cloud Cisco UCS VMware ESXi, Hyper-V NetApp / Cisco
VCE Vblock, by EMC & Cisco VCE Vision / VMware vSphere Cisco UCS VMware ESXi EMC / Cisco
VersaStack, by IBM & Cisco IBM Spectrum / VMware vSphere Cisco UCS VMware ESXi IBM / Cisco
Nutanix VMware vSphere, Microsoft Private Cloud, Acropolis Nutanix XCP, Dell XC VMware ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM NDFS / 10GbE
Simplivity OmniStack VMware vSphere OmniCube, Cisco UCS VMware ESXi SDS / 10GbE

Decision making remains challenging – when choosing the Oracle PCA you are choosing vendor “lock-in” with Oracle VM as your hypervisor and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c for management and orchestration, similarly choosing an HP Enterprise Helion OpenStack solution, no chance to make use of Microsoft Private Cloud or the more widely available VMware vSphere.

You can also see why even with the upcoming Dell/EMC merger, VCE is protective of its Vblock remaining a Cisco-based product, otherwise EMC would be leaving the Cisco UCS-based Converged Infrastructure space to IBM, NetApp and Pure Storage.

Between the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions shown (while both provide a unique Software-Defined Storage solution), choosing Simplivity over Nutanix, I understand you are currently limited to using VMware vSphere. Whereas with Nutanix, your choice also includes Microsoft Private Cloud and Nutanix’s own Acropolis KVM.

Interesting times, with EMC recognizing the growth opportunity in Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions, we shall soon see what they will add to customer choice.

I welcome your comments/corrections, as this is my first foray into this fast moving and exciting area that I believe will dominate Infrastructure discussions in the coming few years.