So hyperconvergence is not a new thing. During recent years it started to become more and more popular with businesses, from SMBs to large enterprises, adopting it as an alternative to a converged infrastructure. You don’t need a lantern to find a hyper-converged solution. In fact, there are so many of them on the market it’s becoming quite a challenge to pick the one that will be optimal for your business needs. That’s why in this article I’ve decided to cover three key factors you need to take into account when choosing a hyper-converged appliance.
Factor 1: Support
Yes, that’s the number one factor I’d take into account, actually, when picking any product to be used in a company’s infrastructure. The more goes for hyper-converged appliances where you get “all-in-one” box with storage, compute resources, networking, management software, etc. You really want to be sure that if any issue occurs (which is quite possible with complex solutions) it will be resolved in shortest terms. Take a close look at vendors support plans. Usually, general/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 OK (actually it’s almost standard). Better goes for premium support plans where you should typically get 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 extra for nothing.
Also, there is some new trend on the market or something that is called proactive support. Is it really worth paying extra for proactive? It depends on what a vendor puts in this term. If it’s just some monitoring/analytics software running in your environment, collecting data on performance, latency, etc. and then sending all those to a support team to give you certain prescriptions on how to improve your environment…well, I don’t think it’s worth paying much. Read carefully what vendors are saying about their “proactive” support if it’s just shorter response times or ability to fix issues even faster… don’t mess with it, it’s just another kind of premium support and vendor wants to make some more money on marketing. What you are really looking for with proactive is to minimize your personal involvement in a troubleshooting process. That’s the whole point of going proactive, isn’t it? If a vendor claims that, you can give it a shot. If it works and support engineers dare bothering you just to sort things out or tell that everything is fixed, great. If it won’t work that way, you still can reach out to a vendor and point to those troubles with proactive support. They’ll do all their best to make their proactive support work properly or at least they’ll provide you with shortest response times as a compensation.
Factor 2: Management
When you get your hyper-converged node (probably at least two nodes if you’re looking for some resiliency) you don’t want to play around with it. Just plug it in and start working. Actually, the whole point of hyperconvergence as a technology is to make management more simple than it was with converged infrastructure. Management here covers the overall solution from hardware to software. You want to deal with your VMs while hyperconvergence does the rest for you.
So what should you do is ask engineers on those pre-sales calls how simple the solution is in terms of management. Do they provide installation and migration assistance? How convenient and “pretty” is the management interface? Is it one for the entire solution or you’ll need some separate tools to manage its components?
Factor 3: Price
If your budget isn’t unlimited, the price is certainly a factor to be considered. The price for hyper-converged appliances varies drastically but what you’re really looking for is decent-quality hardware parts. There is no point in paying more just for a brand itself. Study datasheets, look at the CPUs, networking, and disks, check their price and calculate the margin. Essentially, the only reason of paying more for a hyper-converged appliance is a proprietary software stack providing a unified management for the whole thing and additional features such as storage optimization technologies, high availability, backups, etc.
Well, hyperconvergence is certainly a good deal but there are certain factors to consider when choosing a hyper-converged vendor. Support is a number one thing you should be looking for. Basically, decent support increases chances that your production remains operational all the time or at least minimizes the downtimes. Unified management is the “core” of hyperconvergence, so make sure you won’t need any additional software for administrating your hyper-converged infrastructure. Finally, the price. Take your time and calculate if you’re not overpaying just for a vendor’s “logo”. So, there is a wide variety of hyper-converged appliances, but I hope these three simple factors will help you with choosing a vendor that will provide you with the one that will serve you faithfully.