Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series Review

With its storage system, we are now saving an enormous amount of space


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for people who are tired of messing around with old school solutions, like SANs and NASs, and want to improve the storage side of things in the data center.

What is most valuable?

The storage system is its most valuable feature. It has eliminated our entire need for having to worry about storage. We were storing a lot of syslog data and using a lot of templates in our data center. With the storage system, we are now saving an enormous amount of space.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more analytics. The storage data is just IP packets. It could use better infographs in the HyperFlex Connect on how traffic is running in the network. If you were reaching any capacity issues on the Fabric Interconnects, it should be able to cool all of the servers and Fabric Interconnects, then possibly integrate it with, e.g., Nexus Series switches. This should all be available in a single pane of glass.

I would also like a fast on-premise service. While there is Intersight, which does a lot, there is not the same clarity of information from Intersight, as with an on-premise service.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. I can pull the power cord from one of my servers, and everything will keep on running. Then, the VMs will be automatically transferred to another server and the user won't notice anything. If we had two sites, we can down an entire data center without issue.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good, though it used to be lacking a bit. Now, the HyperFlex system probably has the scalability to be able to cover every single customer in Norway and their needs. With how much it can scale, Norway doesn't have that customers with this many servers, at least in the same use cases or workloads using HyperFlex.

How is customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We use 24/7 contracts and they have never been late. I would rate the tech support as a nine out of ten.

I did have one time where I had an engineer who was just running scripts. He was reading off a tablet (or something). However, that was a next-business day contract, and we were not working with a high-level engineer. We needed a high-level engineer, so we just escalated the case to receive a better engineer, then everything was resolved.

It would be nice to have more qualified support agents get assigned to HyperFlex cases, at least the initial case, not just someone reading off a script.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We had an old Cisco System, which was an internal company system. We also had an old UCS server, which was spec'd out, along with a bunch of other servers. When we were starting to lack in CPU, memory, and storage, we knew that we needed faster storage and networking. In addition, we needed more CPU and RAM with the possibility to scale.

Now, if we need a new node, we can just order a new node. Then, when we get the node, it takes an hour to put it up and we have a new node in the system.

We needed that scalability. We also needed to upgrade the data center. However, the reason that we chose HyperFlex instead of trying to build a system and making it work with open source software, was with HyperFlex, we receive Cisco tech support and services.

We chose HyperFlex because of everything that binds up into it: the scalability, reliability, and services. 

How was the initial setup?

The first time I did set it up, I deployed it with an existing UCS Cluster on the same Fabric Interconnect. This was not yet validated by Cisco. We had no information from Cisco how to do this. While it was coming, but we had a customer who didn't have spare FIs, so we had some problems. However, this was due to a configuration error from the team who had put up the SAN which was connected on the same FIs. So, the HyperFlex was okay. It was just configuration errors on the other one.

In the other deployments that I've done. It has been mostly just racking and stacking the servers, putting in some IP addresses on the Fabric Interconnects, going down to the office, sitting remotely on the good couch, and typing in everything, then pressing "Deploy". Afterwards, everything just runs smoothly.

What about the implementation team?

I deployed it myself. I am the HyperFlex engineer.

What was our ROI?

The main purpose of our data center is to run our monitoring system, which uses huge databases. When we transferred the monitoring system, all of our logging servers, and everything to the HyperFlex system, we saved an enormous amount of data. We obtained a huge performance gain out of the monitoring system because it could cache the data more quickly. Everything went faster and obtained more space. So, we have definitely seen a large return of investment.

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

I would like a clearer licensing model. It should explain a bit more what you receive if you buy the more expensive license rather than the standard one. This would probably help in a lot of cases.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were looking into a lot of open source and white box solutions before we chose HyperFlex. This was mainly due to cost because Cisco isn't the cheapest solution. However, we completely trust the system because we have all this knowledge about HyperFlex along with knowledge about all the other competitors. The way that HyperFlex does storage down to the bits and bytes is something that we feel that we can trust a lot more than its competitors.

The Virtual Interface Cards (VICs) which the servers use are only available through Cisco. There are no competitors in this area.

What other advice do I have?

Look for what your business needs are, what your data center is using, and keep in mind that all of the big vendors are doing hyperconverged. However, Cisco is the only one who is doing it with the network integrated. With all of the other vendors, you can have whatever type of network you want, but with Cisco, they include the network in the whole hyperconverged scene instead of pawning it off to another vendor. They are sort of forcing you to chose Cisco on the network. Yet, when you choose Cisco on the network, you get validated designs along with tried, tested solutions. The whole data center will come together in one single package.

Cisco was a little late to the hyperconverged scene.

The Fabric Interconnects integrates with UCS. The UCS servers are some of the best on the market. The UCS servers can manage all of the servers from the Fabric Interconnects, which is just phenomenal.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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