As many new and existing vendors (Scale Computing, Simplivity, Pivot3, Nutanix) come out with these “Datacenter (DC) in a Box” and “Compute in a Can” types of solutions it is worth noting that these are not only for SMBs but also solutions that enterprise shops should consider as well.
Generally speaking most of these vendors have focused their efforts on the SMB segments and not traditional enterprise environments. This is primarily due to the fact that most enterprise environments have much more resources in the way of technologists that specialize on a given pillar of infrastructure (network, storage, servers, etc.) Hence enterprise shops tend to build their own integrated stacks of infrastructure as they have the time, people and dollars to do so.
I submit with much experience in an Enterprise Shop that their singular focus on the mid-market and not going after the larger companies is a mistake. As such, these vendors are missing out on some very large opportunities at enterprise companies that also require these kinds of infrastructure solutions.
Enterprise shops are consistently faced with life cycle management (aka refresh) challenges that includes 100’s or even 1000’s of remote locations. Generally these sites host all kinds of applications and shared services that range from applications as simple as redundant active-directory controllers and file/print servers all the way up to application servers that support manufacturing, sales, or R&D. These applications for one reason or another cannot be centralized or consolidated into a major data-center location and must be located at remote sites.
There is also the challenge of IT resources at these remote locations. There may only be 1 or 2 people available to maintain everything from the UPS’s (uninterruptible power supplies), phone-system, servers, desktops, storage etc. Dropping in an internally developed, integrated stack of gear is undesirable from the perspective of the centrally located enterprise staff.This approach also tends to be extremely difficult if not impossible for IT staff at these locations to effectively maintain and manage.
Enter hyper-converged infrastructures as these solutions provided significant benefits to building it yourself, some of which include:
- Simple hardware and management. These solutions ship in an N+1 clustered/federated appliance format which contains the servers, storage and network in simple commodity hardware. Asingle management console manages all functions of the stack though in some cases they leverage vCenter or custom developed management consoles to perform management tasks.
- Hypervisor support. Hyper-converged solutions ship with some hypervisor solution such as VMware vSphere, Citrix XENserver, Linux KVM, or Microsoft Hyper-V. Using these established hypervisor platforms companies may leverage their existing virtualized policies and processes.
- Backups and replication. Many hyper-converged solutions provide their own integrated local backups and replication. This negates the need for expensive backup infrastructures to be deployed along-side them saving even more dollars.
- Burst to the cloud. Many of these hyper-converged solutions can burst compute, storage and backups and/or archive out to a cloud provider. This extends the reach of these solutions and provides remote offices with on-demand availability and scalability as they need it.
As you consider your refresh budgets for the coming year, I encourage you to take a look at these solutions. As they provide the ability to have a pick list of models to your organization that can be purchased, shipped, deployed and maintained with relative ease will only make your life easier and make your lifecycle management for remote location less painful. Also, to aid you in this task of identifying the right solution for your company, I am working with DCIG to put together a Buyer’s Guide on these solutions that you can look to be released later this year.