Why all the fuss around hyper-convergence?

Data protection is rarely thought of as a benefit of hyper-convergence, yet that was the most popular topic during a recent user panel event at SimpliVity Connect.

Customers at the SimpliVity conference were discussing hyper-converged backup as a reason for switching over from traditional infrastructure. Hyper-convergence is well known for combining servers, storage and networking into one box, but SimpliVity customers said they also loved the integrated backups, restores and disaster recovery (DR) with their OmniCube appliances.

How it works

Here’s how hyper-converged backup works with SimpliVity: OmniCube makes a copy of the metadata from virtual machines (VMs) in its data management layer, where it tracks data blocks, and performs inline deduplication and compression. VMs can be restored by clicking on the copies. The backup metadata can be replicated (in a deduped & compressed state) to another OmniCube, another site or a public cloud. For DR, the system also replicates other data blocks required to rebuild the VM if there is a disaster. Administrators set up a backup policy for a VM by defining how often it should be copied, at which site the copies will be kept and how long they will be kept.

What customers say

“A lot of our data centers are in places where we can’t get reliable reception,” said Nathan Larsen, CIO of Sinclair Oil Corp who replaced NetApp storage with OmniCubes. “It was cumbersome to manage. Now, our daily backups are painless, and we don’t have that overhead anymore. One of the big benefits for us is the reliable restores. It solved the backup and replication problems.”

Ray DeCrescente, CTO of Capital Regional Orthopedics said he had EMC storage when he purchased SimpliVity’s hyper-converged systems to support the company’s VMware VMs. He said the cost of data protection swayed him to move to SimpliVity after he found hyper-converged backup costs a lot less than traditional backup.

“To be honest, I had a very good relationship with EMC,” DeCrescente said. “But the cost to go into Data Domain [EMC’s disk backup] was going to be over the top.

“We replaced the production and disaster recovery sites. We were also looking for a backup solution. I was looking at a few different vendors. It became clear that for cost versus value, SimpliVity was the best solution. It made life a lot easier for us. Our backup and restores are very efficient.”

Woody Muth, CIO at Worth & Company Inc. said he was close to signing off on a purchase of a Nutanix hyper-converged system, but decided to go with SimpliVity largely because of the integrated backup that also replaced his Barracuda backup. He had budgeted $300,000 to purchase a hyper-converged system. He initially bought a two-plus-one configuration, and now has three nodes in his Philadelphia headquarters and three more nodes in the Delaware office, with full disaster recovery. He said the company found it too hard to introduce DR before moving to SimpliVity.

Muth said SimpliVity is Worth’s main server and storage platform, running Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint and Oracle Database. Like DeCrescente, Muth found that hyper-converged backup alleviated the need to purchase an additional data protection product.

“With Nutanix, I would have had to get a third-party backup, and I would have had to buy Veeam [backup software],” he said. “I came in $60,000 under what I budgeted for, because I was able to shave off buying Veeam and it was cheaper than Nutanix. And my Oracle administrators wanted to buy RMAN, so we had to convince them, too. They were very hesitant to go this way. Even the network administrator was nervous. But we fully tested it on Oracle and we were able to get it back online. I would say it was a five-minute restore time.”