Category Archives: Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-converged Infrastructure vs Converged Infrastructure

Hyper-coverged Infrastructure Hyper-converged infrastructure is the latest buzz in IT circles. Thanks to virtualization and cloud computing technology, businesses are now able to integrate multiple IT components into a single entity to remove silos, optimize costs, and improve productivity. Converged and hyper-converged infrastructures provide this flexibility to businesses. This article looks at the differences between […]

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CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”, Why Smart IT Leaders Connect with Maria Dinallo and Parallels

CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”, Why Smart IT Leaders Connect with Maria Dinallo and Parallels Maria Dinallo, Parallels’ Senior Director of Channel Sales has been honored in CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”. CRN Power 100 honorees were selected on the basis of their […]

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HP targets hybrid cloud users with CloudSystem, Helion updates

HP has updated its CloudSystem converged infrastructure offerings

HP has updated its CloudSystem converged infrastructure offerings

HP has updated its CloudSystem platform to include its distribution of OpenStack in a converged private cloud offering. Paul Morgan, HP’s cloud head in EMEA told BCN the company is looking to broaden its support for hybrid cloud deployments.

The HP Helion CloudSystem includes all of HP’s Helion software including CloudSystem (its own private cloud software), Helion OpenStack, Helion Development Platform (it’s Cloud Foundry distribution) and HP Helion Eucalyptus (for AWS workload portability).

The offering comes in two flavours: the CS200-HC, which is being pitched as an entry-level hyper converged system aimed at SMBs and enterprises and can scale up to 32 nodes (pricing will be announced later this year but Morgan suggested the cost would float around the $2,000 mark for three years with support and maintenance); and the CS700x/700, which is cabinet-sized, aimed at larger enterprises and can scale up to 100 blade servers.

The software loaded on top comes in two versions: Foundation, which includes the Development Pack and OpenStack; and Enterprise, which ships with everything the Foundation package offers as well as OneView, Matrix, and Eucalyptus service templates, and includes more robust architecting and publishing capabilities.

The company said it has expanded support for HyperV, enhanced VMware networking, and added a number of OpenStack ancillary services under the hood including Heat (for orchestration) and Horizon (for dashboarding). It’s also added OneView – its converged infrastructure operations management software – to the mix.

“We definitely think that down the road many of the applications and workloads we see today will be hosted in the public cloud,” Morgan explained. “But in reality many of those applications don’t move over so easily. The cloud journey really does start with hybrid, which is where we think we can add value.”

Morgan said that converged offerings can help IT departments save big because they improve automation and deliver orchestration and automation without needing to radically change applications. He added that some of its customers have saved upwards of 30 to 40 per cent using its CloudSystem offerings.

“That’s where these converged offerings can play a role – in delivering all of the agility and cost savings cloud brings and which enterprises are looking for when they refresh their hardware, but not necessarily forcing them to rush off and overhaul the application landscape at the same time.”

Converged OpenStack cloud pioneer Nebula closes its doors

Nebula, an OpenStack pioneer, is closing its doors

Nebula, an OpenStack pioneer, is closing its doors

Converged infrastructure vendor Nebula, one of the first companies to pioneer integrated OpenStack-based private cloud hardware, announced it will close its doors this week.

A notice posted by the Nebula management team on its website says the company had no choice but to cease operations after exhaustively searching for alternative arrangements that would allow the company to keep operating.

“When we started this journey four years ago, we set out to usher in a new era of cloud computing by curating and productizing OpenStack for the enterprise. We are incredibly proud of the role we had in establishing Nebula as the leading enterprise cloud computing platform. At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that the market will likely take another several years to mature. As a venture backed start up, we did not have the resources to wait.”

“Nebula private clouds deployed at customer sites will continue to operate normally, however support will no longer be available. Nebula is based on OpenStack and is compatible with OpenStack products from vendors including Red Hat, IBM, HP and others, providing customers with a number of choices moving forward.”

One of the original players behind the OpenStack codebase, Nebula offered Nebula Cosmos, a fast and secure deployment, management, and monitoring tool for enterprise-grade OpenStack private clouds, and converged infrastructure solutions based on x86 servers running OpenStack- the Nebula One.

Nearly five years after the creation of OpenStack the market is clearly still in its early stages despite loads of vendor hype and a flurry of acquisitions in this space. Indeed, the first challenge for independents like Nebula is their ability to gain critical mass and maintain operations – at least before being acquired by firms like Cisco, Red Hat, HP and other IT vendors that have snapped OpenStack startups in recent years in a bid to grow their portfolios based on the open source platform; the second is, of course, competing with the Ciscos, Red Hats and HPs of the world, which is no small feat.

Reference Architecture, Converged, & Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: A Pizza Analogy

hyper-converged infrastructureThis morning, our CTO Chris Ward delivered an internal training that did a great job breaking down reference architecture, converged infrastructure, and hyper-converged infrastructure. To get his point across, Chris used the analogy of eating a pizza. He also discussed the major players and when it makes sense for organizations to use each. Below is a recap of what Chris covered in the training. You can hear more from Chris in his brand new whitepaper – an 8 Point Checklist for a Successful Data Center Move. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Reference Architecture

According to Chris, reference architecture is like getting a detailed recipe and making your own pizza. You need to go out and buy the ingredients, make the dough, add the toppings, and bake to the perfect temperature. With reference architecture, you essentially get an instruction book. If you’re highly technical, following the recipe is manageable. However, if you are more of a technology generalist, or if you’re newer to the filed, it may be difficult to follow and the chances you get lost in the recipe can be fairly high. The benefit here is that you have flexibility to make the pizza the way you want it. The downside is it doesn’t save you a ton of time. You still need to order the equipment, wait for the order to arrive, and then put it together.

The Players

  • EMC’s VSPEX – EMC storage, Cisco UCS compute, Cisco networking
  • Nimble – Nimble storage, Cisco UCS compute, Cisco (newer offering)
  • FlexPod – NetApp Storage, Cisco UCS compute, Cisco networking

There are several use cases when it makes sense to utilize reference architecture. These include when an organization:

  • Has disparate vendors where converged or hyper-converged infrastructure may not be an alternative and the organization is not open to a vendor switch
  • Requires more flexibility in components than converged infrastructure provides (i.e. you can add some extra garlic to your pizza and not have it be a big deal).
  • Doesn’t have a hardware refresh cycle between storage, compute and networking that is in alignment (i.e. you do not want to double up on servers you just bought last year)

Converged Infrastructure

Converged Infrastructure is like a take home pizza you buy at a grocery store (it’s not delivery it’s Digiorno!). Converged Infrastructure is more prepackaged than reference architecture. The dough has been made, the toppings have been added, but you still have to put it in the oven and bake it. Vendors do the physical rack, stack and cabling at the factory and ship it directly to the customer. Customers can expect this typically in 30-45 days of placing the order. You don’t have to wait months to get all parts shipped and then assemble yourself. However, the infrastructure is set in stone. If you are an IT department with a different shop than what you are getting with the converged infrastructure option, you can’t mix and match. There is also still integration that comes with converged infrastructure.

The players

There are several use cases when it makes sense to utilize converged infrastructure. These include when an organization:

  • Requires fast time to market (typically 30-45 days from order to constructed delivery. Keep in mind there is additional time on the front end before the order when planning the solution out).
  • Is building out of application PODS or private cloud. This is typically more of a use case in the enterprise space. For example, rolling out a new SAP environment and having, say, Vblock be solely dedicated to that one app running on it. Another example is a larger VDI project.
  • Requires known, guaranteed and predictable performance out of the infrastructure. With Vblock, VCE guarantees you the performance that you do not get with reference architecture
  • Requires large scalability – you can add to it over time. Keep in mind you need to have a clear direction of where you are headed before you start.
  • Is stuck in the mud with operations and or maintenance validation tasks. Again this is a more relevant use case in the enterprise space. Say an IT Department needs to upgrade from vSphere 5.1 to 5.5 in a cloud environment. This could take them 3-4 months to do all testing, etc. By the time they get everything together there could be a new update on its way out. This IT Department is always 2-3 upgrades behind because of all the manual work. With converged infrastructure, vendors do that work for you.

Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

A hyper-converged infrastructure is the equivalent to a fine dining pizza experience. You can sit back and have a glass of wine while your meal is served to you on a silver platter. Hyper-converged infrastructure is an in-a-box offering. It’s one physical unit – no cabling or wiring necessary. The only integration is to uplink it into your existing infrastructure. If you choose to go this route, you can place the order, overnight ship it and expect to have it on your floor in 48 hours. This is obviously a very fast time to market. As this is the newest space of the three, it’s a little less mature in terms of scalability. Hyper-converged infrastructure often makes the most sense for midmarket companies. Keep in mind, hyper-converged infrastructure is a take it or leave it, all or nothing deal.

The Players

It makes the most sense to utilize hyper-converged infrastructure when companies:

  • Storage and compute refresh cycles are roughly in sync
  • Are looking for out-of-the-box data protection (Simplivity)
  • Require known/guaranteed/predictable performance
  • Are looking for rack space and power consolidation savings
  • Require a small amount of scalability
  • Want a plug-and-play approach to infrastructure.

Which way makes the most sense for you to eat your pizza?

You can hear more from Chris in his brand new whitepaper – an 8 Point Checklist for a Successful Data Center Move. You can also follow him on Twitter.


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By Ben Stephenson, Emerging Media Specialist