Hyper-Converged (HCI) Features

Read what people say are the most valuable features of the solutions they use.
Samuel Rothenbühler says in a Nutanix review
Lead Architect Enterprise Cloud - Member of the Management Board at Amanox Solutions at Amanox Solutions (S&T Group)
Some years ago when we started working with Nutanix the solution was essentially a stable, user friendly hyper converged solution offering a less future rich version of what is now called the distributed storage fabric. This is what competing solutions typically offer today and for many customers it isn't easy to understand the added value (I would argue they should in fact be a requirement) Nutanix offers today in comparison to other approaches. Over the years Nutanix has added lots of enterprise functionality like deduplication, compression, erasure coding, snapshots, (a)-sync replication and so on. While they are very useful, scale extremely well on Nutanix and offer VM granular configuration (if you don't care about granularity do it cluster wide by default). It is other, maybe less obvious features or I should say design principles which should interest most customers a lot: Upgradeable with a single click This was introduced a while ago, I believe around version 4 of the product. At first is was mainly used to upgrade the Nutanix software (Acropolis OS or AOS) but today we use it for pretty much anything from the hypervisor to the system BIOS, the disk firmware and also to upgrade sub components of the Acropolis OS. There is for example a standardized system check (around 150 checks) called NCC (Nutanix Cluster Check) which can be upgrade throughout the cluster with a single click independent of AOS. The One-Click process also allows you to use a granular hypervisor upgrade such as an ESXi offline bundle (could be a ptach release). The Nutanix cluster will then take care of the rolling reboot, vMotion etc. to happen in a fully hyper-converged fashion (e.g. don't reboot multiple nodes at the same time). If you think how this compares to a traditional three tier architecture (including converged generation 1) you do have a much simpler and well tested workflow which is what you use by default. And yes it does automatic prechecks and also ensures what you are updating is on the Nutanix compatibility matrix. It is also worth mentioning that upgrading AOS (the complete Nutanix software layer) doesn't require a host reboot since it isn't part of the hypervisor but installed as a VSA (regular VM). It also doesn't require any VMs to migrate away from the node/host during and after upgrade (I love that fact since bigger cluster tend to have some hickups when using vMotion and other similar techniques especially if you have 100 VMs on a host) not to mentioned the network impact. Linearly scalable Nutanix has several unique capabilities to ensure linear scalability. The key ingredients are data locality, a fully distributed meta data layer as well as granular data management. The first is important especially when you grow your cluster. It is true that 10G networks offer very low latency but the overhead will count towards every single read IO so you should consider the sum of them (and there is a lot of read IOs you get out of every single Nutanix node!). If you look at what development is currently ongoing in the field of persistent flash storage you will see that the network overhead will only become more important going forward. The second key point is the fully distributed meta data database. Every node holds a part of the database (the meta data belonging to it's currently local data for the most part and replica information from other nodes). All meta data is stored on at least three nodes for redundancy (each node writes to it's neighbor nodes in a ring structure, there are no meta data master nodes). No matter how many nodes your cluster holds (or will hold) there is always a defined number of nodes (three or five) involved when a meta data update is performed (a lookup/read is typically local). I like to describe this architecture using Big O notation where in this case you can think of it as O(n) and since there are no master node there aren't any bottlenecks at scale. The last key point is the fact that Nutanix acts as an object storage (you work with so called Vdisks) but the objects are split in small pieces (called extends) and distributed throughout the cluster with one copy residing on the local node and each replica residing on other cluster nodes. If your VM writes three blocks to its virtual disk they will all end up on the local SSD and the replicas (for redundancy) will be spread out in the cluster for fast replication (they can go to three different nodes in the cluster avoiding hot spots). If you move your VM to another node, data locality (for read access) will automatically be built again (of course only for the extends your VM currently uses). You might now think that you don't want to migrate that extends from the previous to the now local node but if you think about the fact that the extend will have to be fetched anyhow then why not saving it locally and serve it directly from the local SSD going forward instead of discarding it and reading it over the network every single time. This is possible because the data structure is very granular. If you would have to migrate the whole Vdisk (e.g. VMDK) because this is the way your storage layer saves its underlying data then you simply wouldn't do it (imagine vSphere DRS migrates your VMs around and your cluster would need to constantly migrate the whole VMDK(s)). If you wonder how this all matters when a rebuild (disk failure, node failure) is required then there is good news too! Nutanix immediately starts self healing (rebuild lost replica extends) whenever a disk or node is lost. During a rebuild all nodes are potentially used as source and target to rebuild the data. Since extends are used (not big objects) data is evenly spread out within the cluster. A bigger cluster will increase the probability of a disk failure but the speed of a rebuild is higher since a bigger cluster has more participating nodes. Furthermore a rebuild of cold data (on SATA) will happen directly on all remaining SATA drives (doesn't use your SSD tier) within the cluster since Nutanix can directly address all disks (and disk tiers) within the cluster. Predictable Thanks to data locality a large portion of your IOs (all reads, can be 70% or more) are served from local disks and therefore only impact the local node. While writes will be replicated for data redundancy they will have second priority over local writes of the destination node(s). This gives you a high degree of predictability and you can plan with a certain amount of VMs per node and you can be confident that this will be reproducible when adding new nodes to the cluster. As I mentioned above the architecture doesn't read all data constantly over the network and uses meta data master nodes to track where everything is stored. Looking at other hyper converged architectures you won't get that kind of assurance especially when you scale your infrastructure and the network won't keep up with all read IOs and meta data updates going over the network. With Nutanix a VM can't take over the whole clusters performance. It will have an influence on other VMs on the local node since they share the local hot tier (SSD) but that's much better compared to today's noisy neighbor and IO blender issues with external storage arrays. If you should have too little local hot storage (SSD) your VMs are allowed to consume remote SSD with secondary priority over the other node's local VMs. This means no more data locality but is better than accessing local SATA instead. Once you move away some VMs or the load on the VM gets smaller you automatically get your data locality back. As described further down Nutanix can tell you exactly what virtual disk uses how much local (and possibliy remote) data, you get full transparency there as well. Extremely fast I think it is known that hyper converged systems offer very high storage performance. Not much to add here but to say that it is indeed extremely fast compared to traditional storage arrays. And yes a full flash Nutanix cluster is as fast (if not faster) than an external full flash storage array with the added benefit that you read from you local SSD and don't have to traverse the network/SAN to get it (that and of course all other hyper convergence benefits). Performance was the area where Nutanix had the most focus when releasing 4.6 earlier this year. The great flexibility of working with small blocks (extends) rather than the whole object on the storage layer comes at the price of much greater meta data complexity since you need to track all these small entities through out the cluster. To my understanding Nutanix invested a great deal of engineering to make their meta data layer extremely efficient to be able to even beat the performance of an object based implementation. As a partner we regularly conduct IO tests in our lab and at our customers and it was very impressive to see how all existing customers could benefit from 30-50% better performance by simply applying the latest software (using one-click upgrade of course). Intelligent Since Nutanix has full visibility into every single virtual disks of every single VM it also has lots of ways to optimize how it deals with our data. This is not only the simple random vs sequential way of processing data but it allows to not have one application take over all system performance and let others starve (to name one example). During a support case we can see all sorts of crazy information (I have a storage background so I can get pretty excited about this) like where exactly your applications consumes it's resources (local, remote disks). What block size is used random/sequential, working set size (hot data) and lots more. All with single virtual disk granularity. At some point they were even thinking at making a tool which would look inside your VM and tell you what files (actually sub file level) are currently hot because the data is there and just needs to be visualized. Extensible If you take a look at the up... View full review »
Charlene Harsch says in a SimpliVity review
Sr. Systems Administrator at a healthcare company with 501-1,000 employees
The ease of managing this system! Recently added the All Flash CN3400F and oh my goodness are these nodes fast as lighting! I love having a private cloud for my organization. Public cloud will never care for my organizations data more than I do. View full review »
MarkMgr says in a StarWind Virtual SAN review
IT Manager at a hospitality company with 51-200 employees
We just use it for the storage replication. We haven't really utilized any of the other StarWind functionality in it. View full review »
IT2ced says in a NetApp HCI review
IT Specialist at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
* Its data literacy gives us so much flexibility for our development group to be able to stay on task. * The solution integrates well with all the other applications that we use on our environment. * The GUI is user-friendly and intuitive. View full review »
Sean Henry says in a NetApp HCI review
Senior MIS Manager at a transportation company with 501-1,000 employees
It was designed from the ground up to work together. It’s not disparate technologies that the vendors put together and decided, “These can work together.” It was designed from the ground up to work together. You get that slight economy of scale from that fact that it was designed that way. It becomes more than the sum of its pieces, rather than less. View full review »
Director of Technology at FAFCO, INC.
Without question, the support. StarWind has been a valuable technology partner for us from the beginning. On the rare occasion when we have had a problem, or have simply needed to do an upgrade, they have provided first-rate support. Anyone who has dealt with common off-shore support understands the frustration in dealing with incompetent and difficult to communicate with support staff. This is not so with StarWind, as their support staff is comprised of true experts who can also communicate clearly. For highly technical products this is essential. The best part about their tech support though, is that you probably won't need it much! On the technical side, the performance has been excellent. I have never found a reason to regret not going with a traditional SAN. The configuration is so much simpler, with fewer points of failure to worry about. Integration with Microsoft clustering has been perfect, allowing us to leverage our investment in MS server licensing to the fullest. Updates to server hardware are now painless and done during working hours with zero stress. We had a RAID failure a few months back, and nobody in the building even noticed and there was no after hours time used for repair. It's the best! View full review »
Justin Brooks says in a SimpliVity review
Systems Engineer III at a logistics company with 1,001-5,000 employees
* The backup and recovery is very fast, effective, and easy to use. * The ability to manage the environment without special consoles or interfaces is a plus. * Managing storage doesn't require a specialized skill set. * Software upgrades and scalability can be done during normal business hours with no downtime. View full review »
anush santhanam says in a SimpliVity review
Technical Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
* Simple management * HyperGuarantee * Accelerator card * Globally federated architecture The simple management comes in handy since a standard VMware admin can manage it. The HyperGuarantee is unique and the accelerator card is the primary IP with the product. The 4KB based dedupe and optimization are definitely helpful as observed by our clients. The globally federated architecture means that the backup across sites does not consume precious MPLS bandwidth, which is cool. View full review »
SeniorIm1567 says in a SimpliVity review
Senior IM Manager
It's very simple to manage. It has reduced the footprint in the datacenters quite a lot. View full review »
it_user517800 says in a Nutanix review
Chef du service informatique at a healthcare company with 501-1,000 employees
* Simple to use * Ergonomic View full review »
Steffen Hornung says in a Nutanix review
Data Consultant with 501-1,000 employees
* Single click actions is definitely the most important. They were not even aware that they wanted this. * Performance was the main point for buying it. * No virtualization-vendor lock-in is another main point. * But if you ever had good support, Nutanix Support will overwhelm. View full review »
Eduardo Nunes says in a Nutanix review
Technical director at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Hypervisor agnostic. I can use VMware or Hyper-V license, if I already have. But if I use a similar solution as Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor (AHV) that comes embedded in Nutanix solution, I can manage all my virtual environments with everything I need without spending more money on licenses. View full review »
Michel Isaia says in a VMware vSAN review
Virtualization System Administrator. at a integrator with 51-200 employees
The most important functionality is the ability to extend cluster storage and cluster computing power securely without loss of data. Also, the ability to set up an extended cluster on multiple sites in a much simpler and easier way than with a traditional storage solution. View full review »
Leandro Leonhardt says in a Nutanix review
System Architect at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
The Prism interface is valuable. It is very easy to manage, is based on HTML5, and all CVMs are able to assume the management role. They are not the SPOF. View full review »
Rodney Barnhardt says in a VxRail review
Server\Storage Administrator at a manufacturing company with 501-1,000 employees
Being able to perform upgrades and check the system through the VxRail Manager has been very helpful. It allows files to be uploaded, performs a pre-check against the system, then upgrades the appliance from the hardware up through the VMware environment. View full review »
LeadTech120c says in a SimpliVity review
Lead Tech Consultant for Data Center with 51-200 employees
* Scalability * Ease of setup * Reduced complexity * Flexibility View full review »
AccountM64fc says in a SimpliVity review
Account Manager with 51-200 employees
We have a lot of customers who are looking at the whole hyper-converged infrastructure. Comparing this solution to some of the other competitors that we've been going up against, they like the ease of use, the centralized management, and big cost-savings. We had one SimpliVity deal so far, but that's what everybody from the customer standpoint really liked about it. They just received the product and they were just setting it up. Hypothetically, it's going to solve a lot of business problems that they were running up against. View full review »
ChristophHerdeg says in a Nutanix review
User at a consultancy with 1-10 employees
* Data protection in its various flavours. * Overall performance of the platform. * Scalability. * Ease of implementation. * Great GUI. View full review »
Farrukh Qadir says in a Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series review
Sr. System Engineer with 51-200 employees
They have multiple storages connected with their environment, but the HX storage deduplication and compression feature is the best for the environment. View full review »
User
The ease of management through one console for the storage of all of our datacenters worldwide: Going from managing multiple SANs with each of their own consoles and software versions to having a single console to handle all of the company's storage simplified things a lot for us. Another thing worth mentioning that isn't really a feature: The support provided by StarWind is among the best we've ever got for any solution. During the implementation of one of our datacenters, our team took an action that made all storage on a cluster unavailable. StarWind got notified of that situation by the cluster. They contacted us, provided us with a fix and also gave us a procedure for the next time we need to perform this type of maintenance. View full review »
MatsHagberg Olsson says in a Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series review
Enterprise System Architect at SAAB Group
There are two most valuable features in HyperFlex: * The UCS, which is by far the best management tool there is on the market, regardless of vendor. It's the only tool I see that gives you the opportunity to size and scale all the assets and capacity you have in your data center, from a unified view. * That Cisco provides the ability to configure BIOS, something that no one else can do, on a remote basis. That's really helpful sometimes. The bus-snooping alteration tool for BIOS is fantastic. That's one of the game-changing features that Cisco alone has at this point. In addition, the density, how much performance you can pack into the form factor, that is most impressive for me. Finally, there's no high learning curve. It's very easy. Sure, you should have some experience, of course. But it's not that hard to get familiar with the user interface and how to manage and operate it. View full review »
RobStickland says in a VMware vSAN review
User
Ease of use and implementation. View full review »
User
StarWind HCA delivered us a complete solution that works out of the box. There was no need to buy additional hardware; everything came in a box. Also, the software was preinstalled. View full review »
Juarez Thomazelli says in a Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series review
Pre Sales Manager at Vortex TI
I love the Cisco design, the visual interface to manage and use the platform. I love this kind of visual. It is a great platform because it's easy to use. It's easy to put a business inside this box. It's so practical. View full review »
Karuna Madhu Devandla says in a Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series review
General Manager of IT at Magma Fincorp Ltd.
The fact that it's hyperconverged is what is most valuable about this solution. There is no specific feature which I can name because we have only been using it for a very short time. We just started using it. View full review »

Sign Up with Email