HPE Synergy Review

It has decreased our deployment times by at least a half


What is our primary use case?

We use Synergy for everything: Exchange, virtualization, and SQL. Most of our stuff is still on-premise. We are not really doing anything with hybrid cloud from Synergy right now.

How has it helped my organization?

It makes it easier to manage all of your infrastructure when it's more efficient.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the future proofing. As we buy new equipment, we are buying Synergy instead of continuing to buy c7000 blade enclosures and BL Series blades. Thus, I don't have to do a forklift upgrade in the future. 

Also, the increased speeds and feeds, as we went from multiple bonded 1 gig connections to 40 gig. That was huge, especially with our virtualization density. When you are running 50 VMs on one host, you really need the the speed behind it so you don't have issues.

Then, there are the ease of management and single pane of glass for everything. The single pane of glass management is huge, because in all our previous systems, depending on what we were managing, we would go to a different management point. Being able to go to one spot to get everything is helpful. I find that server profile creation is a lot easier in OneView than it was previously. We are able to stay compliant with firmware and updates, because we are assigning server profiles and reapplying them when there are changes. This makes everything a lot simpler.

What needs improvement?

For the storage modules, which can be put in a single frame, they currently can only be addressed to compute modules within the same frame. It would be nice to be able to use those to assign cross frame.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For the most part, the stability is really good. We had some challenges during the implementation and a few issues afterward, but they were all sort of related to how Synergy interacts with Nexus. Our Nexus on the network side is managed by another group, and they had just gotten Nexus, so they weren't really familiar with how Nexus even worked. Getting these two to interact well was the majority of our issues. It really didn't have anything to do with Synergy. It points to know the environment that you are putting it in and making sure you are dotting all your i's and crossing all your t's when you are figuring out what their requirements are to communicate.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is pretty huge. The compute modules and everything in the Synergy system scales up very well. It has much higher speeds and feeds than we had before.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've done several engagements with the support from Synergy. They have all been really good engagements. The only thing that I can say which might be negative is they don't necessarily know about the Nexus connections either. However, once we got that figured out, it was good. We had several visits with engineers, when we had issues, who fixed everything. So, that was really good.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

As an agency, we looking at the future constantly and evolving with what is coming out. We are really budget constrained, so continuing to operate in the same method over and over again until you realize that you have to make a change, that is really expensive. So, we are always looking for new, better ways to do things. We looked at the lifetime of the c7000 enclosures and realizing that they are not going to be around forever. We wanted to roll into something which was going to be around for a while. to avoid five or six years down the road having to do a forklift upgrade of all of our systems. This is sort of how we operate. To save ourselves in the future from having to make big changes, we can sort of easily roll into Synergy instead of having to go into it all at once.

How was the initial setup?

I am sure that that initial setup was complex, but Pointnext made it look really easy.

We purchased it already configured in the rack, which was huge because you roll it into the data center, then everything is already cabled, except for your outside connections. This saves you at least two days, if not more, of putting the Legos together of the system. Then, we were able to plug the system into our network and immediately able to start to configure it. This maybe took two hours to fully configure a three-frame enclosure with 20 compute modules in it. That was extremely impressive.

Within the two hours, we were using the compute modules. Other than getting people to move off of their older servers into the frame, which is more of a business thing than technical, because you have to arrange outages, we were able to use the system immediately.

What about the implementation team?

HPE Pointnext came out and did the initial configuration. Our experience with them was awesome. 

What was our ROI?

It has decreased our deployment time by about half, maybe a bit more. We used Altiris Rapid Deployment before on the c7000s, but as time went on, that platform didn't work very well anymore. Then, we were doing a lot of things manually. Even though, we were really good at doing that, it is a lot easier again to deal with a server profile or image. So, we easily cut that time down in half.

From the replacement costs versus the cost of the previous equipment, it has been much cheaper than previous gear. The performance and speed has enabled us to do more things that we weren't able to do before: Faster video streams, being able to have more hosts on a compute module, and have more efficiency all around, which has definitely paid for itself.

It is a more condensed physical footprint than our previous hardware. So, we're saving money on power and cooling. We have three power distribution panels. We have the utilization measure. We were at more than 90 percent utilization on our three panels. When we virtualized, including Synergy, that utilization went down to about 60 percent, which was pretty big. While it may not be fair to say that it was all Synergy, because there were other things involved too. We had all these individual fan units from another company, when we migrated to 3PAR, that took less power, which was also huge. There was a bunch of stuff going on during that power reduction, but Synergy was a big part of it.

Synergy has lowered our total cost of ownership significantly. I would say ballpark around 25 percent, maybe more.

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

We do a biannual renewal. I know how much that renewal is, but I don't know how much it breaks down to be just Synergy, since we have our VMware, all of our physical equipment, etc. all rolled up into one renewal, which is a little over $300,000 every two years. However, only a subset of that is the Synergy product. 

There was at least about a 20 percent savings in cost over our purchase based on the purchase price of the compute modules themselves versus what we've had to pay before. It was significantly less.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't know if we compared anyone else. We have a very heavy blade-centric architecture right now. All of that knowledge and experience rolls right over into Synergy management. Whereas, with another vendor solution, it would not. We would be learning from ground zero. For us, it was more of an easier transition to Synergy than looking at another product.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend buying it.

Most of the requirements of newer applications are based on the availability of newer technology. So, you need more speeds and feeds. You need more proxy, faster storage, and more RAM. The compute resources required for today's workloads and emerging workloads are greater than it was before. This platform is allowing us to meet those needs without having to go out and purchase more gear.

It doesn't really affect our development staff. Right now, their development environments aren't on Synergy. They are not actually using it yet. All of our production stuff is in Synergy. The development staff is using the old stuff still.

The biggest lesson learned is knowing what you are connecting Synergy to, because there are caveats there and not everything necessarily plays well with Synergy. Make sure you are talking to your HPE techs about what you need it to connect to and what is in your environment that will work well. Also, that they have tested it and proven it. Otherwise, you're going to be their guinea pig.

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