Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series Review

An all-in-one option that is stable and offers good management

What is our primary use case?

HyperFlex is a hyper-converged infrastructure system that is a cluster of servers that provide compute and storage at the same time. Most other networking systems provide either computation separately from storage and networking. However, HyperFlex is a combined system that provides compute, networking, and storage in the same solution. That is, it gives you a single point of management for everything instead of separately for different components.

How has it helped my organization?

We've adopted Hyperflex as the new Virtualization solution for our network. all new workloads will be created on Hyperflex, and all existing workloads will be migrated to Hyperflex over the next few years.

What is most valuable?

The product makes management much easier since there's a single pane of glass to use to monitor, manage and upgrade the system. 

You can achieve similar performance for your system by buying separate components, however, HyperFlex allows you to achieve the same performance using one system. It's basically one integrated system. That's the most powerful aspect of it. 

The solution is quite stable.

The scalability of the product is quite good overall - as long as you plan correctly from the outset.

What needs improvement?

A disadvantage is the higher costs involved in using this product. If it were more affordable, it would be easier to recommend and HCI adoption rate would increase. Unlike other options, you need to pay a subscription to Cisco yearly instead of paying for the hardware outright, which makes it more expensive in the long run.

The initial setup could be easier. Right now, it's a bit difficult. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've used the solution over the last 12 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's been stable since we set it up. It's been very stable and providing good service. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are considering expansion at the moment. The solution is easily scalable if it is planned correctly from the beginning. 

Our previous generation is going to end support in two years. We're planning to migrate our whole virtualization infrastructure from the old generation solution to the Cisco solution. Basically, within one or two years, we'll be moving all our instrumentation and all our workloads will be moving to this solution.

A minimum of three servers is needed. If these servers have good specifications from the beginning, it's as easy as adding another node. You can expand the solution with more and more nodes. That said, if the node isn't configured properly in the amount of CPU, RAM, and storage, then when you try to expand, you must either expand with more than one node to add more and more scalability, or you must upgrade the existing nodes.

HyperFlex is hosting our financial systems. In terms of users, for management, it's just the ITT and we're managing the solution. However, if you consider people who are using the servers as infrastructure, then you can say more than 50 people technically are on the solution. Basically, the whole company uses the PBX system as an exchange for phone calls, for example.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't reached out to Cisco in terms of needing technical support. We've reached out for other reasons, however,  and they were very quick to respond. For this solution, in particular, we've been working with Cisco's partners  - and since our partner provides good support, then we haven't needed to reach out to Cisco directly.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to have a non-converged solution before Hyperflex that had separate components, however, when we chose to go with a hyper-converged solution for our network, we chose HyperFlex.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not exactly straightforward or simple. It's a bit difficult, a bit complex. 

Luckily, we had the support of the Cisco partner to install and integrate the solution. However, it would have been much easier if we could do it in a shorter time. 

It is a complicated process for integration and it takes time. It can take several hours to install and configure the solution. If the setup process was faster, it could have been done in a shorter time. Basically, it took about two or three days to finish the whole setup. From unpacking to going online, it took us a few days. While the installation is a part of the process, the most time-consuming point was the initial setup.

What about the implementation team?

We had a Cisco partner that assisted us in the initial implementation. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution comes at a higher cost than if you had separate integrations grouped together.

There are licenses included with the hardware, and then there are annual subscriptions that you need to pay. You need to pay an annual subscription service to Cisco for operating the solution. There are other solutions that are purely hardware and whatever licenses you pay, you pay one time along with the purchase, or if you need to expand. This solution has an annual subscription payment.

What other advice do I have?

We are customers and end-users.

The HyperFlex is on-premise the hardware infrastructure. You can set it up with VMware ESXi or with Microsoft Hyper-V. We chose to go with VMware ESXi. It was a requirement of the other systems that we depended on. We could have gone with Hyper-V, however, VMware turned out to be the right solution. The system is hardware and it's compatible with both software solutions or hypervisor solutions. We chose VMware ESXi and turned out to be a better solution than Hyper-V.

I would recommend the product to other users, as long as it's affordable for the company. The cost is high. It is about 150% more costly than a comparable older generation solution. However, if you can afford it, then by all means go for it. 

I'd also advise new users to choose a higher-end specification for the servers. This is also important. That would make extending it easier. For example, the fiber interconnected component the solution sells is like a switch. It's sold per port. If you buy exactly what you need now, you have to replace the hardware when you want to expand. Therefore, plan for the needs of the future, not the present.

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten.

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Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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