PeerPaper ReportBEST PRACTICESFOR CHOOSING AN HCI SOLUTIONBased on Real User Reviews of HPE SimpliVity2020

ABSTRACTIT departments continue to embrace Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). Softwaredefined, HCI provides improved flexibility and economics by virtualizing the elementsof conventional hardware-defined infrastructure. As the technology matures,infrastructure managers and other stakeholders are developing more sophisticatedcriteria and best practices for selecting an HCI solution. As users of HPE SimpliVitydiscussed on IT Central Station, the most effective HCI solutions provide simplicity ofmanagement, cloud options, efficiency, high availability, fast backup and restore aswell as the consolidation of the data center footprint. 2020, IT Central StationBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution

CONTENTSPage 1.IntroductionPage 2.A Brief Overview of HCIPage 3.Selection Factors for an HCI SolutionSimplicityManageabilityEfficiencyFaster, More Highly Available ApplicationsFast Backup and RestoreFootprint ConsolidationCloud OptionsPage 8. 2020, IT Central StationConclusionBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution

INTRODUCTIONHyper-Converged Infrastructuremanagers and other stakeholders are(HCI) offers an attractive alternativethus developing a sophisticated set ofto conventional, hardware-definedcriteria and best practices for selectinginfrastructure. Software-defined, HCIan HCI solution. On IT Central Station,provides improved flexibility andusers of the HPE SimpliVity HCI solutioneconomics by virtualizing compute,discussed how HCI should providestorage and network elements ofsimplicity of management, efficiency,the infrastructure. As IT departmentscloud options, high availability, fastcontinue to embrace HCI, prospectivebackup and restore as well as theusers want to know what makes anconsolidation of the data centerHCI solution stand out. Infrastructurefootprint. 2020, IT Central StationBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution1

A Brief Overview of HCIHCI comprises software-defined IT infrastructure.In contrast to traditional hardware-definedinfrastructure, HCI relies on virtualization forcompute, storage and network. An HCI systemtypically includes a hypervisor for virtualmachines (VMs), a virtual Storage Area Network(SAN) and software-defined networking. An HCIinstance can run on commercial “off-the-shelf”(e.g. COTS) server hardware.Infrastructure (CI). Unlike CI, HCI is completelyHCI is an iterative outgrowth of Convergedinfrastructure, CI and HCI.virtualized. It abstracts the underlying storageand compute hardware from software-definedcontrols and functionality. CI systems may employseparate hardware-based storage and computecomponents. As a result of being softwaredefined, HCI tends to be less complex and costlyto manage. Figure 1 shows simple comparativereference architectures for conventionalConventional Hardware-DefinedInfrastructureConverged Infrastructure(CI)Hyper Converged Infrastructure(HCI)Network ManagementIntegrated ManagementIntegrated ManagementLogical Switch & Flat NetworkLogical Switch & Flat NetworkStorage ManagementServer ManagementAppDiscreteSwitches &HierarchicalNetworkAppServer tor.Stor.Stor.AppStorage PoolStor.Stor.Stor.Virtual Resource PoolApps on VMsApps on e-DefinedStorageSoftware-DefinedStorageSANSANCOTS ServerCOTS ServerFigure 1 – Comparing Reference Architectures for Conventional Infrastructure, CI and HCI 2020, IT Central StationBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution2

Selection Factors for an HCI SolutionIT Central Station members cited many differentfactors that drove their selection of an HCIsolution. Their discussions include an overviewof competitive differentiation between varioussolutions on the market. Acquiring an HCIsolution is usually a methodical, focused process.Multiple solutions are reviewed and compared.For example, a Senior Engineer at a retailer withover 1,000 employees explained, “Our shortlistincluded Dell and Commvault. We chose HPESimpliVity for the simplicity of the way it worksand the true hybrid converged appliance whichwas there. We didn’t have to buy a bunch ofequipment. We bought two nodes and were ableto do everything with those two nodes.” He thenelaborated, saying, “If you’re a retail companythat has a bunch of stores, I would actually highlyrecommend this for your stores - for the simplicityof it, the ease of the restores, and keeping yourenvironment up and running.”An IT Manager at a mining and metals companysimilarly shared, “We also looked at Dell EMC andCisco. We chose HPE based on its technologyand cost.” An IT Transformation Manager at alarge consumer packaged goods (CPG) companynoted, “We are primarily an HPE shop withmost of our storage, networking equipment,and servers. We did a review on Dell EMC andLenovo. However, it would have been a biggerstretch for us to switch than to stick with HPE.”A Chief Technology Officer at a financial servicesfirm added, “Nutanix was on the list. We choseHPE SimpliVity - and this was about three yearsago - based upon the simple deployment andinterconnectivity ability.” 2020, IT Central Station‘‘We chose HPE SimpliVity forthe simplicity of the way it worksand the true hybrid convergedappliance which was there.Best Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution3

SimplicityHCI system owners look for simplicity in a solution.It’s one of the major selling points of HCI in general.As background, HPE SimpliVity enables simplicitythrough the functioning of solution components likeHPE InfoSight, which uses telemetry and machinelearning to simplify the experience with predictiveresource planning and support wellness thatanticipates and corrects infrastructure problems.Some of the following customer quotes refer to thiscapability.‘‘[HPE SimpliVity] provides an entiresolution in a single box and offersa single management platform forthe entire staff.“It’s very simple to manage,” declared a pleasedSenior IM Manager. A Systems Analyst at aninsurance company with over 500 employeesshared, “It is a very nice solution. Very simple touse. It is a very interesting platform, because theoperation is very easy. It is integrated with theinterfaces which we use every day in all of ourplatforms. We think it could be a huge advantagefor us.”For a Technical Architect at a tech servicescompany with more than 10,000 employees,simple management was a point of value forHPE SimpliVity, as was its globally federatedarchitecture. He said, “The simple managementcomes in handy since a standard VMware admincan manage it.” This mattered because it enabled“simpler operations and no more monolithic SANs,”along with “No SAN switches and having a nativebackup is pretty cool.” Other recommendations forsimplicity included: “Provides an entire solution in a single boxand offers a single management platform 2020, IT Central Stationfor the entire staff” - Solution Architect at amanufacturing company with more than 10,000employees “Software upgrades and scalability can bedone during normal business hours with nodowntime.” - Systems Engineer III at a logisticscompany with over 1,000 employees “It has lessened our burden on multipledifferent products, so they are under oneumbrella. This has been economically good.” IT Director at a pharma/biotech company withmore than 5,000 employees “Simple, scalable, and comes with goodtech support We use it for VDI.” - VMwareAdministrator at an energy/utilities companywith over 1,000 employeesManageability“We chose HPE SimpliVity over Nutanix becauseOmniCube [now called HPE SimpliVity] isarchitected with inline dedupe and compression,”explained a VP/Chief Technology Officer at anenergy/utilities company with over 500 employees.For him, manageability emerged as a critical factorin HCI selection. He shared, “This includes simplebackup and data protection for all our VMs, andcan be managed centrally from one login andinterface through VMware vCenter.”An IT Engineer at a local government agencysimilarly praised HPE SimpliVity for its “ability todo frequent full VM backups in seconds.” The ITTransformation Manager at the CPG company feltthat “the integration with our VMware was prettysweet.” He added, “We have a very dispersedenvironment and were looking to centralize. Wewere using traditional VMware farms, standaloneservers, etc.”Best Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution4

EfficiencyHCI solutions should drive efficiency in IToperations and resource utilization. That’s theconclusion reached by IT Central Station members.As the tech services Technical Architect put it,“Our clients have been very happy with the dataefficiency features (HPE OmniStack acceleratorcard) and the HPE SimpliVity HyperGuarantee,which is unique. For one of our clients who neededbackup capability but did not want to invest ina dedicated backup tool, HPE SimpliVity nativebackup with app consistency came in handy. Whenyou do this across more than 80 sites, the savingsis significant and the WAN bandwidth efficiency is‘‘It’s allowed us to be moreefficient in disk space usage witha reduction. in hard drive space.impressive.” He further noted, “HPE SimpliVity alsobrings capacity savings.” The Chief TechnologyOfficer at the financial services firm commented,“It’s allowed us to be more efficient in disk spaceusage with a reduction of 47 to 1 in hard drivespace.”Faster, More Highly AvailableApplicationsHaving all of the infrastructure running on asoftware-defined basis, with a unified point ofmanagement, translates into faster and more highlyavailable applications. Or, at least, it should. “I wassearching for a high availability system that couldreplace our traditional SAN and be responsiblefor computer configuration and backup,” said aSolutions Architect at a manufacturing companywith over 1,000 employees. He found it in HPESimpliVity. “This solution was an easy way for us toensure high availability along with offsite backup 2020, IT Central Stationof data,” he added. “It has made offsite recovery afaster process than in the past.”A Platforms Engineer was pleased with HPESimpliVity, citing its “sheer speed and the sheerpower.” For the CPG IT Transformation Manager,“Scaling is piece of cake. We even are doing siteto-site replication of certain systems that we needto have high availability on.” Other notable insightsincluded: “Versatile and provides more velocity in ourapplications.” Gerente de ingenier (Engineeringmanager) “As an early adopter of HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure, we have seen significant benefits to the solution, increasing ourapplication delivery performance by 75 percent.It lowered our operational costs in a major way.”- VP/Chief Technology Officer at an energy/utilities company with over 500 employeesBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution5

“Speed and recovery are its most valuablefeatures.” - Senior Systems Engineer - MidrangeHardware Standards at a transportationcompany with more than 10,000 employees “I would recommend the product. It is goodtechnology. The time and response ofapplications embrace the productivity of ourenterprise.” - IT Manager at a mining and metalscompanyFast Backup and RestoreMany IT Central Station members use HCI forbackup and restore function. The ability tohandle these workloads figured prominently intoselection of a solution. “We can backup with morefrequency and minimize RPO and RTO,” said anIT solution Specialist at a small company. Forhim, HPE SimpliVity “Improves backup time” withdeduplication and compression. “It helps us save onthe cost of storage and improves the backup andDR solution.”A Network Manager at a marketing services firmfound, “We can get backups faster. We have asmaller footprint for hardware, which takes upless space. So, we use less electricity and floorspace.” A Manager-Information Technology ata construction company with more than 5,000employees felt the accelerator card was “a lifesaverfor speeding up backups.” He said, “My day-to-dayexperiences are better now that my backups are nolonger running into production.”‘‘It helps us save on the cost ofstorage and improves the backupand DR solution.“The way it does backups is its most valuablefeature,” explained a Senior Engineer at a financialservices firm with more than 5,000 employees.“It replicates snapshots with very low bandwidth.We only have a 50 megabit link to that site, andit doesn’t really use much of it at all. Therefore, itis a really good fit for getting our backups done.”A Systems Engineer at a renewables & environmentcompany echoed this sentiment, sharing, “It alsohas instantaneous backup and lag-free restore.When everything is running, I can bring back a hugeVM in less than 30 seconds. That’s even better thanVeeam.”Conventional Hardware-Defined r Converged Infrastructure rStorageServerSD-storageFigure 2 – An Example of Physical Footprint Reduction Made Possible by HCI’s Greater Efficiency,Compared to Conventional Hardware-Defined Infrastructure 2020, IT Central StationBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution6

Footprint ConsolidationAs its name suggests HCI works best for userswhen it saves them space in the data center. Asthe Senior IM Manager observed, “It has reducedthe footprint in the datacenters quite a lot. We wereusing traditional server and storage based. Weswitched to HPE SimpliVity because it was lookingpromising. It was simple. It reduced hardwarepresence in the datacenter. It increased backupspeeds. The simplicity of the HPE SimpliVity.”The VP/Chief Technology Officer was also pleasedbecause “HPE SimpliVity reduced our data centerfootprint from 20U to 4U.” Figure 2 offers a visualrepresentation of this process.“We compared it with other products, such asNutanix and vSAN, and we weighed the featuresthat we needed,” noted an IT Analyst at a localgovernment agency. He related that “This solutionwas the one that met the greatest number of ourrequirements. It’s also less complicated to deployand has a smaller footprint.” An Ashis Das a at atech vendor with over 500 employees praised 2020, IT Central StationSimplicity because it “reduced storage footprintof primary and secondary copies of data and WANreplication bandwidth with good performance.”Cloud OptionsIT Central Station members suggested thatprospective HCI users look at cloud extensionoptions when they considered a solution. Forexample, an Infrastructure and TechnologyConsultant said, “It allows you to take advantageof the unique platform of computing, cloudmanagement, storage, and integrated networks,as well as software-defined data management,which is easy to use.” A Solution Architect at amanufacturing company with more than 10,000employees shared that his team “needed atechnology that is universally deployable and hasthe capability of functioning in the cloud.” As henoted, “This allows us to use the service not onlyin our own premise’s data centers but with cloudproviders as well.”Best Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution7

CONCLUSIONIT professionals have identified thedata center footprint. Cloud options aremost desirable characteristics of an HCIimportant, too, as many organizationssolution. As described in reviews onemploying HCI are moving to a hybridIT Central Station, the best practices forcloud model of IT deployment. Asselecting the right HCI solution includeHCI becomes an increasingly popularthings like simplicity in managementinfrastructure choice, these bestand high availability as well aspractices and selection factors shouldefficiency in storage. A good HCIbecome vital to having a successfulplatform will provide fast applicationoverall experience with HCI in the dataresponse and fast backup/restore,center and the cloud.while also contributing to a reduction in 2020, IT Central StationBest Practices for Choosing an HCI Solution8

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OmniCube [now called HPE SimpliVity] is architected with inline dedupe and compression,” explained a VP/Chief Technology Officer at an energy/utilities company with over 500 employe