I’ve just completed a review of hyper-converged solutions (in essence a software-defined system with tightly integrated storage, networking and compute resources) and spoken with a number of companies that have either deployed or are trying to deploy them and it is very clear there is little in common with the solutions offered from individual enterprise class vendors.
Even the content of the solutions isn’t very consistent. I’m not going to call out the differences by vendor because what is true today will most certainly not be true tomorrow. However, I expect, the core differences between solutions will move between the vendors as each of their solutions matures and the market decides which approach it wants to take.
[ Related: The pros and cons of hyper-converged solutions ]
I’m going to break them down into four categories: marketing solution, stability optimized, performance optimized and dynamic.
Let’s start by discussing what a hyper-converged solution is.
What hyper-converged means is basically an IT shop in a box, a glass house appliance. The advantages to this approach, if you can do it and it is done right (more on this later), is that everything is designed to work together, complexity is minimized, reliability and ease of management optimized, and both operating cost and implementation time are massively reduced.
To get to an ideal solution there has to be a high level of collaboration between each of the key components which include servers, storage, networking, (and, in some rare cases, telephony). Like any system the stronger the relationship between the hardware and software components the greater the targeted benefits.
As noted above not all systems are created equal.
1. Marketing solution
These come about when an organization realizes it needs something in market but doesn’t have the time to do it right. As a result, they throw components at the problem and then wrap it with slick marketing to make it look like they have something that is competitive, but it isn’t. I often wonder why some vendors that to do this aren’t sued more often because the resulting offering isn’t anywhere near as good as they represent.
There is a big difference between a mess of aging non-optimized components and a true solution with the core problem that virtually none of the anticipated benefits other than a single vendor puts the mess together are realized. It is because of “solutions,” and I use this word almost in jest here, that you absolutely have to look under the covers and talk to others who have deployed the platform you are considering before you finalize your choice.
2. Stability optimized
These tend to focus on solutions that mostly come from one vendor. They are heavily vetted and, as a result, give up cutting edge performance for a far more integrated and well tested result. While they trail the performance curve they tend to enjoy the highest customer satisfaction and the greatest level of customer advocacy. Development teams work closely together and a great deal of the product development is significantly connected early in the process.