What is our primary use case?
We don't do everything converged. We actually do converged infrastructure for particular servers. Everything that is software-defined, we do through our converged infrastructure. The core is converged but we don't do anything else besides that. We only do it to provision our servers. Our Infrastructure is actually converged at the server level, it's not converged at the network devices level and the like. We still go through hybrid and conventional for that.
How has it helped my organization?
It begins with a simpler installation. It provides a more advanced way to approach enterprise IT. It's still a nightmare, like every other converged solution out there. But we have done data center consolidation and data protection, disaster recovery for our services for DR. Desktops are globally backed up.
What is most valuable?
For the converged system, HANA for SAP. OneView is very good too.
What needs improvement?
We don't have any problems with it at the technology level. I can't think of any improvements they can make. I think they are doing pretty much what any other converged infrastructure services system can do. Perhaps faster allocation of memory or storage.
However, I am sure we are not the only healthcare company that works with them. They need to work more as a team to solve common business problems.
If you're asking me about the technology, I don't see anything that they can do, other than growing the hyper-converged. But I think things have grown as far as they can. However, in terms of their direction as an enterprise, I don't think they are very good. It was a very rough ride. The people they sent, I don't think they had experience in doing these kinds of implementations before. It was pretty painful. It's working now but it took too long.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
As far as what we are doing now, there is no problem with stability. It's pretty flexible, it's efficient, and it is centralized management, cost-effective. I don't see a problem. The systems are good to go. It's just the people that they hired to do the implementation, I don't think they knew what they were doing. They were just learning with the clients.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
No issues with scalability. We are good to go on that.
How is customer service and technical support?
Tech support is good, no problem. You write a ticket and, for policy changes and stuff like that, they're pretty straightforward. Sometimes they say it will take eight hours and they do it in 15 minutes. There are many ways to do escalation of their tickets. From my point of view, I do not have a problem with them, they are pretty efficient.
How was the initial setup?
Setup was very complex, in terms of communication with them. At a certain point, we had to fly them there.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Pricing is good. We have not calculated what hyper-converged infrastructure has brought us but I think there has to be some lower cost for us, compared to the public cloud. Obviously, there would be a lower cost, probably by more than half.
Regarding licensing, have the paperwork looked at by senior management and don't make any decisions until you have all of your corners covered. In the beginning, you might see that this thing has ears and a tail but you don't know if it's a mouse or an elephant. You need to try to have as much clarity on what the business needs are going to be because, later on, it's going to hurt to increase licensing or to understand how far they go, what their limitations are.
Ask as many questions as you can, don't take things for granted. In the beginning, you need to give them a roadmap. If you don't give them a roadmap, if you don't ask for the right things, that's not on their side.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
When we were in the market, we went everywhere. When you're in the market looking for a solution, you don't want to go for the first pick. It was a year-long project to find a provider. We based our decision on cost-effectiveness and on what they told us: that it was going to be easier to manage the essential application, that we were going to have increased performance, we were going to have a reduction in recovery time. Promises and promises.
It's not that they are not true, it's just that they didn't seem to be true at the beginning of the implementation of the cloud. You get all of these problems at the beginning and you ask yourself, "Are we going to be getting this kind of scenario everywhere we go in this implementation?" In the end, everything worked out. I guess it's just part of this business. The transformation is not as simple as see it seems.
What other advice do I have?
I don't think we are completely happy but we are not completely unhappy. We are right in the middle. It's not the system, it's the people behind the system. They have a pretty good technology, but they don't have people who know how to handle it. That's the problem. I am not saying I'm an expert on hyper-converged or on converged systems, but I have to say that for some issues, we had to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.
In terms of advice, if you are considering converged infrastructure, you should become educated first on what it is. To begin with, it is one that isn't going away. But it needs to make sense for your use case. Converged infrastructure can be perfect for virtualized data centers, but only after considering the logistics and financial implications.
You need to learn about the benefits. You need to know how the bundle will compute. You need to know how the storage is going to work into a single offering that can be deployed quickly.
Another point is budget. You are going to have an initial cost for converged infrastructure. You can prevent a lot of frustration when you are working with heterogeneous data centers. You need to know how to save money in the long term.
Don't be too fast in making decisions, don't pull the trigger without a converged infrastructure comparison; the benchmarking is very important. A lot goes into the decision to use converged Infrastructure. Some factors can be very subjective, others can be very straightforward.
Personally, I would say that, ready or not, converged Infrastructure systems are here, and they are here to stay. If you're still buying separate servers or you're still buying separate networks and storage, you might consider a converged infrastructure system. There is no other way.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.