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.

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