Best Hyper Converged Solutions Roundup

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

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.


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 HPE

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.

Riverbed SteelFusion

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.

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Deduplication Reviews – Exagrid vs. EMC vs. Quantum vs.HP


Technology analyst Gartner estimates place the deduplication appliance market at $1.74 billion in revenue last year. That’s a growth rate of 18% over the previous year.

“While EMC continues to claim the lion’s share of the market, late-comer HP is making good progress, and Fujitsu reported some large-scale adoption in Europe and Japan,” said Rinnen. “Quantum remains a solid contender, whereas Dell is ramping up its DR series appliances for SMBs. ExaGrid and Sepaton are positioned as Visionary vendors due to their innovative architectures.”


Exagrid believes that deduplicating backups during the backup process (inline) it too compute-intensive, resulting in a longer backup window. To overcome this, ExaGrid uses a landing zone where backups can land straight to disk without inline processing, resulting in fast backups and a short backup window. Deduplication and offsite replication occur in parallel with backups so they never impede the backup process, as they are second order priority.


ExaGrid offers a total of nine appliance models, which can be mixed and matched into a single grid. This can scale from a 1 TB full backup up to a 294 TB full backup in one grid. It also allows for replication to a second site for disaster recovery as well as enabling multiple data centers to cross protect between each other. The list price for the ExaGrid EX7000 appliance is $29,000, whereas the EX13000E is $42,000, and the EX21000E is $59,000.

Gartner saw ExaGrid as being successful in the midmarket and in small enterprises, and thought its grid architecture offered pay-as-you-grow benefits, as well as having deeper integration with Veeam than many competitors. But the analyst firm saw limitations in its reach beyond North America, as well as limited cloud support.


The Quantum DXi Series utilized the StorNext 5 file system to accelerate storage workflows and simplify data protection. The company recently streamlined its disk backup/deduplication portfolio based on three platforms – the DXi6900 for midrange to enterprise environments, the DXi4700 for SMB to midrange implementations, and the DXi V-Series for virtual environments. The DXi6900 with 17 TB usable capacity has an $88,000 list price, the DXi4701 with 5 TB is $16,000 and a free DXi V1000 virtual deduplication appliance is available to store up to 15 TB of deduplicated data.


As such, Quantum provides self-encrypting 4 TB drives in DXi Series models using AES 256-bit government grade encryption that is performed by the drives without performance impact. A recent development is capacity-on-demand licensing. For example, this enables users to scale a DXi6900 from 17 TB to 510 TB without any licensing complexity. From one Quantum appliance, users can replicate to Quantum’s Q-Cloud Protect data center as a means of offsite protection. If the data is deduplicated, Burns characterizes the cost at pennies per GB per month.

Gartner called attention to Quantum’s strong tape heritage, which gives it strong tape integration capabilities compared with its competitors. The analyst firm also commented favorably on its licensing model, which gave users better flexibility and affordability. On the downside, the DXi’s Accent deduplication distribution software only supports Symantec NetBackup and Backup Exec, and Quantum offers online support for application-native backup tools such as Oracle RMAN.


HP supplies several deduplication appliances. The 4 TB StoreOnce Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) which includes StoreOnce Catalyst (pricing starts at $1,500). The StoreOnce Backup 2700 (dedicated hardware appliance) offers 5.5 TB of usable storage prior to deduplication (approx. 110 TB of backup data assuming a 20:1 deduplication ratio) and is priced starting from $12,500.

Other products are available offering different capacity and performance points through to HP’s flagship StoreOnce 6500. It offers the highest availability with failover and autonomic restart for those who want to ensure their backups don’t fail. This product scales to 1728 TB of usable space prior to deduplication and restore speeds up to 75 TB/hr. Prices start at $375,000.

“Consider a holistic approach to data protection,” said Andrew Dickerson, senior marketing manager, backup, recovery and archiving solutions, HP Storage. “It may be that your organization can move some of its primary data to a different type of storage enabling the business to use that data for intelligence purposes, to help move the business forward while at the same time backing up less data each day, to a deduplicating appliance.”

Gartner felt that StoreOnce had good integration capabilities with backup applications such as HP Data Protector and Symantec OpenStorage Technology (OST)-based applications, but saw some weakness in entry-level and midrange models.


No pricing available.

Gartner noted that EMC has achieved commercial success with Data Domain deduplication backup appliances, which offer a variety of configurations, deduplication capabilities and ingest speeds. The analyst firm called it the “broadest ecosystem of backup and enterprise application support, including deeper integration with EMC’s Avamar and NetWorker via Data Domain Boost.”

But Gartner also noted some customer gripes around pricing, and the lack of a scale-out architecture for easy upgrades and migration.

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EMC VNX Pricing, Cost and Price List

Nothing but EMC VNX pricing on this page


VNX51156010FN EMC VNX 5100 – Hard drive array – 3.6 TB – 15 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 600 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U – field 6159.3
VNX51D153T72F EMC VNX 5100 – Hard drive array – 18 TB – 15 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 3 TB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U – field 9045.12
VNX51256010FN EMC VNX 5100 Pricing – Hard drive array – 3.6 TB – 25 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 600 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U – field 6465.93
VNX51D256010F EMC VNX 5100 – Hard drive array – 3.6 TB – 25 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 600 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U – field 6465.93
VNX51D253010 EMC VNX 5100 Cost- Hard drive array – 1.8 TB – 25 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 300 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U 6050.64
VNX51D256010N EMC VNX 5100 – Hard drive array – 3.6 TB – 25 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 600 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U 6465.93
VNX51156015FN EMC VNX 5100 Price List – Hard drive array – 3.6 TB – 15 bays ( SAS-2 ) – 6 x HD 600 GB – 8Gb Fibre Channel – Serial Attached SCSI 2 (external) – rack-mountable – 3U – field 6973.3
EMC VNX 5300 Pricing – NAS – 4.8 TB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – HD 600 GB x 8 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U – field 19496.32
VNX53N156010 EMC VNX 5300 Cost – NAS – 4.8 TB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – HD 600 GB x 8 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U 15294.66
VNX53D156015M EMC VNX 5300 – NAS – 4.8 TB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – HD 600 GB x 8 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U 19496.32
VNX53N156015 EMC VNX 5300 Price List – NAS – 4.8 TB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – HD 600 GB x 8 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U 19496.32
VNX5500DP15F EMC VNX 5500 Pricing – NAS – 0 GB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U – field 11576.62
VNX5500FL100 EMC VNX 5500 Cost – NAS – 3.3 TB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – HD 100 GB x 21 + 300 GB x 4 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U 118669.4
VNX5500DP15D EMC VNX 5500 Price List – NAS – 0 GB – rack-mountable – Serial Attached SCSI 2 – RAID 0 – 1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 10 – 8Gb Fibre Channel – iSCSI – 3U 12154.83
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