Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series Review

The ability to configure BIOS remotely is game-changing and unique to Cisco

What is our primary use case?

Our use case was to set up a new VDI farm.

How has it helped my organization?

If you set up a cluster and then you decide a bit later on to split that resource into several smaller clusters, that's where UCS comes in and eases that operation better than anyone else that I've worked with. It provides better capacity utilization and a faster time to delivery. The cluster-splitting took about two hours while before, it took about four days. That's a considerable time savings in down-scaling and cluster spitting.

What is most valuable?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is fantastic; I'm close to saying matchless. I've forgotten how many physical nodes were involved, but it was a substantial installation. Really large. It had the capacity to host 16,000 concurrent users. That's pretty sizable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't experienced Cisco tech support in person, since it all went smoothly. We didn't have any problems.

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

They were using Dell EMC VxRail. They didn't switch, really. Cisco's presence just started to increase.

How was the initial setup?

I found the setup to be relatively straightforward, but I have some 20 years in the business, so that could be a factor.

The deployment took two days. The company is a VMware house, so all things come to VMware. So maybe that eased things too. But you have to have Cisco-Certified engineers mounting the stuff.

The implementation of HyperFlex required six people, including the server manager, me, and two guys from Tech Mahindra taking care of the VMware parts. And there were two Cisco-Certified engineers from a big partner in this region, named Atea.

They missed some tables in the delivery and that took us an extra day. But I don't think that's mandatory procedure. Overall, the implementation went very smoothly.

For maintenance it takes four people on a day-to-day basis with specified, divided roles. including some taking care of the VMware parts while I take care of the VDI-specific features. I would consider it a high-maintenance solution. It's not that it takes full-time support, not from that perspective, but you have to be pretty well skilled in software, setting up profiles, etc. That's not Cisco-specific.

What about the implementation team?

I have had a really good and long experience with Atea as a partner. 

This was my first acquaintance, in person, with Tech Mahindra and that was pretty interesting. You have to be somewhat aware of the caste system. It eases your dialogue.

What was our ROI?

ROI can be found in down-scaling time, which includes cluster-splitting, and the overall management, with the ease of UCS, compared to any other tool in that space.

It's hard to say there's a financial value since they're quite expensive. It's also a matter of OpEx and CapEx. Perhaps you pay up a little bit more, but to OpEx and CapEx will be lowered since the solution lasts forever and is easier to manage.

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

They are not the cheapest on the market. But there's an old saying I like to quote: "If you know that you are getting what you pay for, it's fine if it's expensive."

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We compared two quotes. The other quote was from another big OEM, which is very closely tied to VMware. I was assigned to do that comparison since I have somewhat of a reputation as being good in sizing up the component base. I soon found out that the Cisco solution provided much higher density for the form factor than the other. Also, the server manager got a good feeling about the UCS by itself and the density. They were really good staff to work with and they have a high presence in the region. And they're really great in costumer care.

I know Cisco is working pretty hard to become a top player in the AI space. But I don't think Cisco has many competitors. There is Dell EMC and maybe Supermicro, which is always first on the market with all things new. Cisco is definitely one of the top three vendors.

Amulet Hotkey has some really nice products out there too. It's truly expensive if you want to go full frontal with everything that they offer. On the other hand, you can get there with almost the same, extremely high security level with Cisco products too.

What other advice do I have?

Look at the manageability. Do a serious comparison of management tools. That's strong advice because it can be really expensive too if you have to implement a third-party management tool.

In terms of extent of use, Cisco systems make up about 30 percent of the overall system, but it was definitely the plan to increase Cisco systems within the data center, meaning HyperFlex, because of the form factor and the density of it.

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

author avatarMatsHagberg Olsson
Top 5Real User

Thanks for taking the time interviewing me. An minor addition is that it's about configuring Bus Snooping in BIOS what makes Cisco stand out, from my experinence. One can configure BIOS remotely on other vendors systems and with other tools to. Sorry for not being clear on that in the interview.