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Several tips to choose a proper hyperconverged appliance

Introduction

The technology of hyperconvergence is not a know-how any more as it is widely adopted in by companies of all sizes. No wonder, hyperconverged appliances are simple and convenient to use, easy to scale, and can be deployed faster comparing to the traditional IT infrastructures with segregated components. In fact, there are so many various hyperconverged solutions on the market that picking the right one that will serve you faithfully is a bit of a challenge. So, what are the 3 key factors you should consider when skimming through the market?

Support

That’s right, not hardware specifications, not software…support. Hyperconverged appliances are pretty complex as they go as “all-in-one” boxes with solutions with storage, compute resources, networking, management software, etc. interconnected. You don’t wanna to rely on a vendor’s assurance that it’s a rock-solid product and no issues will occur. In fact, what you want is to resolve issues as soon as possible. For that matter, take a close look at the support plans offered. Typically, standard support plans offer support during business hours with various response time for different severity levels. If it’s less than 4 hours for severity 1, than its good. However, if you can’t tolerate such a downtime, you’d better look for premium support plans typically offering 24/7/365 support with 1 hour or less response time for severity 1. If the response time is higher, or you don’t get those round-the-clock support time, well you’re paying for nothing.

Here, something that is called Proactive support should be mentioned. You can find more and more offerings from various vendors called proactive support. Such services are not cheap, so you should make it clear what vendors puts in this buzzword for real. If it’s just a software running in your environment and collecting some statistical info on IOPS and storage usage to further send it to the engineers further so they could contact you and give some advice on improving your performance…forget about it. If such a service offers you shorter response times or ability to fix things faster, just say “Nice try guys, but I’m not buying”. It’s just a slightly better premium plan that will cost you twofold. What are you really looking for with proactive support is to resolve problems before they are actually there. That’s the point of proactive, isn’t it? So, if the vendor offers you the prevention of issues, you may give it a chance. For example, take a look at StarWind ProActive Support as these guys claim that it resolves issues before they appear.

Management

What’s the point of going hyperconverged? To make things simple. So, when you get your hyperconverged appliance, or two, if you’re looking for high availability for your data, you want to invest minimum of your time in its management. Therefore, take your chance on those pre-sales calls and ask engineers how simple the solution is in terms of management. Actually, there are three questions to ask:

  1. Do they offer integration, installation, and migration assistance?
  2. How convenient is the management console and what can you do with it?
  3. Do they provide a single-pane of glass management or do you need several tools to manage the components?

Again, if we take StarWind, they have their HyperConverged Appliance with installation and migration assistance included at no extra $. 

Price

Yeap, simple as that. Why should you overpay if you can get a better solution for thatose money? Actually, the price for hyperconverged appliances varies drastically. However, what you’re really looking for is a high-quality hardware. There is no point in paying more just for a brand. For that matter, look through the datasheets, check the CPUs, networking, and disks. Take your time to find their price and calculate the margin. Essentially, the only reason to pay more for a hyperconverged appliance is a proprietary software stack that comes with it. Why? Well, ‘cause it may provide a a unified management for the whole thing and additional storage optimization technologies such as data deduplication and compression, high availability, backups, etc.

Conclusion

Hyperconvergence is a great technology allowing to make our daily system administration job a lot easier. However, it is also a great chance for a vendors to make some money without offering you true hyperconverged functionality. With that being said, pay closer close attention to support plans offered, check management functionality, and investigate the hardware price. AtIn the end of the day, you’ll be able to choose a true hyperconverged solution without paying through the nose.  

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