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.