What should be considered when buying a hyper converged appliance?

Hyper Converged infrastructure has bagged immense popularity in organizations of all sizes and across all market verticals which are seeking ways to simplify increasingly complex data center environments. Also it has helped enterprise IT departments to react to new demands from business which could otherwise lead to high costs.

Industry analysts feel that when deployed correctly, and with right solution, Hyper Converged infrastructure acts as a powerful architectural choice that can transform the way that IT does business. But before proceeding to buy a hyper converged solution the decision maker should make a note of the following.

Choose those appliances which support your legacy equipment- Obviously, those going for hyper converged infrastructure already have some kind of data center equipment in place. For reasons, most organizations will neither be interested in ripping the old equipment apart to replace with new infrastructure, nor will they want to be forced to run their data centers as two separate and discrete silos of infrastructure. Therefore, ask the solution provider whether their solution supports the legacy in-house systems. Know well, on whether the existing server and storage assets can co-exist with the new environment. Such integration allows organizations to phase in the hyper-converged infrastructure solution during existing replacement cycles. Moreover, as the company continues to extend the hyper-converged infrastructure investment, it enhances the overall benefits that come from this powerful architectural option like consolidation of separate data center functions into single appliances and converging multiple admin interfaces into fewer.

Scalability is vital- As business grows in future, data centers should also scale as per the demand. Modern day data centers can scale easily, while legacy systems do not exhibit that choice as it involves downtime, complex planning and expensive consulting resources. This is where hyper converged infrastructure should show their prominence with their scalability features. Arguably, the best outcomes from scalable hyper-converged infrastructure solutions revolve around the lack of impact that scaling operations have on the environment. The end result is a boost in overall performance and capacity that doesn’t alter the management paradigm as everything is still managed with the same consoles as before.

Get into the details of scaling for proper planning- Many vendors offering hyper converged infrastructure provide guidance as to how many Virtual Machines their solutions can support. For example, a solution may be sold as “supporting up to 100 virtual machines”.  By letting the customers know on how well their solution can scale up to, vendors can give their potential buyers a sense of how well the intended solution will meet their needs. Therefore, dig deep and ask the solution provider the core details.

Know the facts on moving data- Truly speaking; no individual system in a data center can be available 100% of the time. But atleast 99% availability can be achieved by the system, if users can know how the architecture is designed. Understanding that some systems will necessarily be brought offline for various purposes, such as maintenance, one must ensure that the hyper-converged infrastructure solution they are considering has the ability to move data around to accommodate individual device outages.

Ensure the system has multiple hypervisor support- Those shopping for a hyper converged solution should insist on the solution having multiple hypervisor support. For example, a company may run Hyper-V, and even though there are numerous hyper converged platforms that support just VMware, none of them will be of use to the company needing Hyper-V support. With that said even most hyper-convergence vendors that currently support only a single hypervisor are offering additional support for alternative hypervisors on their product roadmaps. As such, it’s important to continuously scan the market to determine whether hypervisor support has improved over time.

Data protection presence is critical- When dealing with enterprise data, protection of it is crucial. Infact, data protection presence can make a business and its absence can break it. Therefore, all those who are looking out for hyper converged infrastructure should ask the vendors on how well their solutions can protect the data from hardware failures, human errors and natural or man made disasters. The solutions should offer RAID or mirroring services, single site replication, replication between sites, and should have full disaster recovery capabilities. Note- Replication enables customers to take data protection to next level by protecting against node faults and other hardware issues.

Ensure data protection is built into the system- When shopping for hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, it’s critical that decision makers ensure that data protection is built into the system without the need for additional software layers. The goal here is to better manage costs and reduce complexity. Moreover, the data protection mechanisms included in the product should have the potential to enable complete business continuity as a part of its disaster recovery and data protection portfolio.

Must support performance requirements of a data center- Regardless of other benefits, if the implementation of hyper converged infrastructure doesn’t support the business critical workloads performance wise, then its implementation proves ineffective. The point to be notified over here is that performance is not just processing speed but must be of enterprise class. This means that the solution should support flash and, optionally, spinning disk. Ideally, both will be supported because they each have different strengths and weaknesses. When it makes sense, the solution should be able to automatically tier storage systems to enable faster data access or, at the very least, have an accelerated method for handling data retrieval. The chosen solution should be provided by a vendor that has done full spectrum performance testing which includes overall throughput and IOPS testing, as well as determining how many virtual machines can operate per node in the environment.

Availability- Almost every business irrespective of its size, demands “5 nines” or 99.999% of availability these days. This equates to just over 5 minutes of downtime per year. However, many legacy data centers are built in ways that make achieving this availability level very difficult, if not impossible. This is due to reasons such as vendor interoperability, lack of end to end availability mechanisms and overall complexity. Also, it is not simple to expect high availability, when the solutions are already enriched with factors such as easy scalability and simplified management. But the decision makers need not compromise on this issue when considering a hyper converged infrastructure solution deployment. They should insist on a solution that can withstand a node loss, ensure cluster resiliency and enable automated failover mechanisms.

StoneFly, Inc a wholly owned business unit of Dynamic Network Factory and a VMware technology partner is rolling out the third generation of its Unified Storage and Server (USS) series of appliances which allows users to consolidate all data center needs into one redundant and highly available appliance. This next generation product redefines simplicity by delivering virtualization, compute and storage in an agile, scalable, easy to manage hyper-converged infrastructure solution.

StoneFly brings in next generation data center infrastructure that delivers cloud-like economics and agility, but with the credibility of security and reliability of on-premise solutions.


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