There has recently been a lot of development in the hyper-converged space. Traditionally the two big players in the space have been Nutanix and Simplivity. In the past year, we have seen entries from EMC, VMware, Cisco, and others. The idea behind hyper-converged is to provide the customer with a simple way to design and expand systems. Each vendor is trying to commoditize the infrastructure, thus making it easier for a customer to design and expand.
What are my options?
There are two ways you can consume hyper-converged. Much like what we saw in the commodity “converged” infrastructure space with systems like Flexpod and vBlock, you can build it yourself (flexpod and VSPEX) or you can buy a turnkey solution (vBlock). The way we can build hyper-converged ourselves is by using VMware vSAN or EMC ScaleIO combined with a commodity server like Dell, HP, Cisco, etc. Otherwise we can buy an off the shelf solution like Nutanix, EMC VxRail, Simplivity, or Cisco Hyperflex.
Which is right for me?
As usual , it’s an “it depends” answer. Every IT environment is unique, so the requirements will be different. If you can figure out a balanced approach to sizing a node from one of the off the shelf vendors, then this is the way to go. It will allow you to select a node of the right size and as you need more CPU, Memory, and Disk your expanding by adding additional nodes. Alternatively, if you find that node sizing is not working out correctly for you with one of these vendors, you can certainly build your own vSAN environment using the VMware HCL (hardware compatibility list). With this solution you can choose the commodity server and design within the confines of vSAN to produce your own node, and subsequently you can scale using your own custom design. This will allow you to create a node that might have much more storage or compute, than an off the shelf unit.
One thing I do want to point out here is that all these solutions need networking. Typically a 10gig Ethernet is recommended. This is where I think Cisco did a nice job with their solution that is different than all the others. Cisco can construct their hyper-converged solution in the UCS platform, which has the switching built into it. This really brings completeness of the solution together, making it even easier to consume the platform.
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