The field of all-in-on hyper-converged platforms has certainly grown over the past 24 months. While some smaller startups (Nimboxx?) could not gain enough traction early, others have been delivering robust, time-tested gear for several years. Here’s a run-down of a few of the top names.
Scale Computing enters the best hyper converged solutions category by differentiating its HC3 and HC3x hyperconverged platforms with ease of use and simplicity. The company chose to standardize on KVM as a single hypervisor and built its own management layer, creating high functionality without the need for a virtual storage appliance, coupled with object-based storage with direct access to the hypervisor. Reliance on KVM also eliminates licensing fees for commercial hypervisors, making the product attractive to smaller organizations. Scale Computing recently added integrated disaster recovery capabilities into its HC3 platform.
Pivot3 is hardly a newbie, founded in 2002 with a focus on converging virtual servers, storage and networks. The company says it launched its best hyper converged appliance in 2008, when a casino asked for a secure and cost-effective way to store video streams (at the time, Pivot3 called it “serverless computing.”).”
Using Scalar Erasure Coding, Pivot3 developed vSTAC OS, which the company says “allows any program running on one appliance within the cluster to access resources across all the appliances in the cluster.” Pivot3 focuses on the video surveillance and virtual desktop markets and counts more than 1,300 customers worldwide. Recently, Pivot3 acquired NexGen Storage to flush out it’s all-flash offerings.
Hyperconvergence pioneer Nutanix launched its first product in 2011 and initially focused on a message of “ban the SAN.” Today, the company’s Virtual Computing Platform provides integrated compute and storage through servers running a standard hypervisor and the Nutanix OS. According to Gartner’s report on integrated systems, Nutanix’s technology is unique in that “the storage and compute elements are natively converged to create a much tighter level of integration”; a node-based approach that “enables theoretically limitless additions of new compute or storage bandwidth in very small increments.”
Nutanix, which released what it claims was the industry’s first all-flash hyperconverged array last year, has raised $317 million in funding, filed 43 patents, and touts an annualized sales run rate of $300 million. Last year, the company inked an OEM deal with Dell to offer converged appliances built with Nutanix software running on Dell PowerEdge servers.
Gridstore offers best hyper converged solution purpose-built for Microsoft Hyper-V. The startup’s hyperconverged appliances come in both all-flash and hybrid versions. Unlike other scale-out storage products, which use standard storage protocols such as SMB or iSCSI, Gridstore places much of the work of managing the scale-out cluster into the client as a virtual controller. Gridstore may have an advantage in the market if it can capitalize on its position as the first Hyper-V optimized storage system.
Dell’s Nutanix-Based XC Series
Dell’s first Nutanix based hyper converged solution is the XC730xd, which is based on Dell’s PowerEdge R730xd rack-mount server platform. The XC730xd, based on Intel Xeon E5 2600 v3 processors, fits up to 32 TB of storage capacity in a 2U enclosure, or about 60 percent more capacity than the previous model based on the PowerEdge R720xd servers. The second model, the XC630, is based on Dell’s 1U PowerEdge R630 platform, and can be configured with up to 9.6 TB of storage capacity.
EMC VSPEX BLUE
The EMC VSPEX BLUE best hyper-converged infrastructure appliance delivers compute, storage, networking and management through VMware EVO: RAIL and EMC software. EMC claims the solution goes from power on to provisioning virtual machines in less than 15 minutes.
Included with the appliance is VSPEX BLUE Manager, which provides access to electronic services and automated patch and software update notifications; VSPEX BLUE Market, which gives access to pre-validated solutions; and EMC Secure Remote Support for monitoring of the appliance.
Hewlett-Packard in December entered the best hyper-converged infrastructure market with its HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual. Based on the company’s StoreVirtual virtualized storage solution, it provides advanced data services, disaster recovery, and heterogeneous interoperability across physical and virtual application domains. HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual includes the converged management of HP OneView for VMware vCenter, as well as robust VMware vSphere integration. A version running the HP Helion cloud was released recently.
HP also recently unveiled its HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC EVO: RAIL, a new hyper-converge appliance based on the VMware EVO: RAIL platform. This combines HP ProLiant SL servers with the VMware suite including VMware vSphere, vCenter Server and VMware Virtual SAN.
The SteelFusion 4.0 from San Francisco-based Riverbed Technology targets the simplification of branch-office IT support by virtualizing and consolidating 100 percent of data and servers from remote sites into data centers to centralize data security and IT management. SteelFusion does this with a series of hyper-converged appliances that are deployed in a remote office to run applications over a WAN using data stored in a central data center.
New with SteelFusion is FusionSync, which provides seamless branch continuity by ensuring all branch data is accessible across private and hybrid cloud environments. This, according to Riverbed, gives remote offices the ability to withstand and recover from data center failures with zero downtime.
Another pioneer in the hyperconvergence space, SimpliVity came out of stealth mode in 2012. The startup’s OmniCube platform combines compute, hypervisor, storage services and network switching on x86 server hardware with centralized management. OmniCube goes further than other integrated systems by incorporating features such as built-in VM backup, in-line data deduplication, compression and optimization at the source, according to Gartner.
Tintri VMstore best hyper-converged appliance consists of a fully redundant box containing flash and spinning storage, designed to simplify the task of providing storage for VMs while adding performance.
Unlike traditional networked storage systems, even those that also integrate flash and spinning disks, there are no LUNs, volumes or tiers, which Tintri says present barriers to virtualization because they have no intrinsic meaning at the VM level. Instead, each I/O request maps to the particular virtual disk on which it occurs, the system accesses the vCenter Server API to monitor and control I/O performance at virtual disk level, and you manage in terms of virtual disks and VMs.
Excerpt from Pivot3’s announcement to acquire NexGen Storage
Pivot3 & NexGen Storage: Dynamic Hyper-Convergence
With the added functionality of NexGen’s Quality of Service (Qos) management and dynamic provisioning layer, and our market-leading scalar erasure coding, we will fundamentally change the traditional notion of hyper-convergence and the expectations from storage solutions. Because we’ll allow customers to deploy multiple workloads on hyper-converged infrastructure at the same time, with the confidence that they’ll perform even under extreme demand scenarios, we will effectively enable the first generation of the software-defined data center.
We’re calling this Dynamic Hyper-Convergence.
Our combined technology suites will, for the first time, give customers access to a portfolio of solutions that can apply the right infrastructure and priority to each workload, application, or service according to their business value. The result is a very flexible, agile and dynamic IT infrastructure that can appropriately and differentially process mission critical, business critical and non-critical applications to improve business results for organizations of any size.
We will be doing two things no one has ever done before: applying our patented scalar erasure coding to all-flash arrays and hybrid appliances, and adding QoS and dynamic provisioning to HCI. This level of policy-based management helps customers meet rising demands and accomplish business goals by enabling IT to scale, provision resources, and deliver business services and SLAs, all on the fly.
Dynamic Hyper-Convergence for the Software-Defined Data Center
Combined with NexGen’s proven QoS and dynamic provisioning software, high-performance and hybrid storage and all-flash form factors, Pivot3 will provide the most extensive suite of HCI solutions available in the market. Not only does this move give IT more options to architect solutions to quickly adapt to emerging business challenges, it also creates opportunities to grow into a hyper-converged environment at their own pace. Dynamic HCI extracts the best performance possible from an organization’s existing IT environment, for as long as necessary, offering the agility, simplicity and economics of HCI, while providing an upgrade path to the software-defined data center of the future.
The combined capabilities of Pivot3 and NexGen will knock down walls associated with management silos and islands of hardware and storage designated for specific purposes. We will be able to deliver the benefits of HCI to customers as a utility, shifting away from the need to constantly reconfigure IT for certain purposes to an on-demand, dynamic system that lets customers focus on the critical business applications that drive revenue. Our customers will have the confidence that their underlying infrastructure will support them now and into the future so they can effectively and efficiently manage IT as a business, rather than a cost center.
How We Do It
Previously, because HCI is so new, HCI applications were limited to narrowly defined use cases and standalone architectures.
NexGen’s QoS capabilities were designed to allow the hosting of multiple workloads on a single infrastructure, and to assign each a priority by using policy groups. For instance, in a medical context, VDI applications that display PET and CAT scans would take preference over Exchange email traffic. Now, we are adding this capability to our HCI solutions. Combined with Pivot3’s scale-out capability, this means that more of the data center can be assigned to a single HCI architecture to achieve the improved economics and simplicity that HCI delivers.
Further, we’re taking some of the science of HCI and extending it to NexGen’s storage capabilities. Our scalar erasure coding effectively renders obsolete the notion of 1:1 replication; we use smart algorithms to back up data in a small fraction of the space required for a traditional backup. Apply that to the high-performance storage solutions from NexGen and you get the highest performing, lowest cost-of-ownership storage solutions in the market today.
Even more exciting, we’ll be making these storage solutions available as high-performance modules for our existing HCI platform. That means that HCI can now be applied to additional use cases that were never practical before, such as heavy I/O intensive applications like OLTP.
This is Dynamic Hyper-Convergence, and I’m excited about the advantage it gives our customers.
Introducing the New Pivot3
Pivot3 and NexGen are two like-minded companies, each with a rich history and solid reputation as leaders in our respective markets. Both companies have been offering software-based technology on commodity-based server platforms that lower costs and complexity.
Innovation is all about people – people who can think differently and deliver on that vision. Our founder and CTO Bill Galloway had a vision to change the paradigm of what was being done with hardware and semiconductors with software, paving the way for HCI. Very similarly, John Spiers and Kelly Long of NexGen had a vision of high-performance storage that removes legacy bottlenecks to deliver better economies of scale and to deploy technology in a way that delivers significant value to customers. When you add these two visions, we get a lot of smart people, including three of the most outstanding technical minds in our industry today, and a broadened suite of best in class products. I don’t know anyone in our industry who has that kind of reach and that kind of experience.
This article was an announcement by Olivier Thierry, chief marketing officer at Pivot3
VMware-focused virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) appliance provider Pivot3 has announced both the vSTAC R2S P Cubed appliance, a fully pre-configured and ready-to-deploy environment for VMware Horizon Suite, and the new vSTAC R2S appliance line, an upgraded version of its existing R2 family.
Pivot3 sells 100% through the channel, so both these products are core channel products, but the vSTAC R2S P Cubed appliance seems especially likely to turn some partner heads.
The Pivot3 vSTAC R2S P Cubed ready-to-deploy Horizon Suite environment includes pre-configured trial licenses of all essential VMware Horizon Suite software – not just View.
The vSTAC R2S P Cubed Rapid Horizon Appliance’s pre-configured components include: a P3 Scale-Out Virtual SAN (vSTAC OS) with Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft SQL Express, VMware vCenter, and VMware vSphere; VMware Horizon Workspace 1.0; VMware Horizon View 5.2, and VMware Horizon Mirage 4.0.
The vSTAC R2S P Cubed also leverages the new vSTAC R2S appliance, which is also being announced. The vSTAC R2S is compatible with the existing R2 family, and incorporates new processor upgrades (2 x dual 8 core Ivy Bridge E5-2650 v2 processors) that deliver 24% more desktops per appliance while reducing corresponding per desktop infrastructure costs by up to 14%.
Both Pivot3’s vSTAC R2S appliance and vSTAC R2S P Cubed appliance will be available for order in October 2013. List pricing for the vSTAC R2S starts at $USD 31,999. List pricing for the vSTAC R2S P Cubed starts at $USD 34,999.