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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance White Paper

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Published: March 17, 2016

Introduction

Virtualization is a way to improve IT operations and cut down associated costs, i.e. “get more for less”. It has been an Enterprise-only toy for a long time. Larger SMB followed Enterprises eventually. Smaller SMB and ROBO are trying to surf server and desktop virtualization tides right now, getting to use VMs for various needs: file servers, SQL, VDI, etc. In this respect, remote offices resemble individual SMB, having similar hardware setups and conditions.

Problem

Complexity and high implementation/maintenance costs slow down the adoption of virtualization in smaller SMB and ROBO. Enterprises enjoy a pleasant journey to construct the jigsaw puzzle of a “whole virtualization product” using state-of-art hardware and software components. They have trained personnel to design, assemble, test, fine-tune and maintain a virtualization solution. Smaller SMB cannot follow the same plan with their lean IT team or no full-time IT employees at all, while the sheer number of sites makes it impossible or very difficult for ROBO as well.

There are different ideas on how to solve or work around the issue: services to build and maintain SMB or ROBO virtualization project, pre-configured virtualization solutions and off-site VM hosting. However, most of them are not effective, because:

• Services do not come free or cheap, so IT operational expenses actually increase instead of going down. The money saved on virtualization is just spent on the service.

• Pre-configured virtualization solutions can’t help insane over-provisioning initially and poor scalability later, resulting in bad ROI. Hypervisor vendors’ offers are too expensive. Those shipped by “budget” hyper-converged vendors typically use proprietary components, resulting in vendor lock-in with support and maintenance difficulties.

• Hosting business VMs off-site implies lots of the related IT operations being hosted as well. This seldom is technically possible or reasonably priced for smaller business units in any case.

As a result, until recently, there was no virtualization solution designed for lots of remote offices, smaller and especially very small SMB.

DIY approach to virtualization

Solution

For ROBO, mid-sized and especially small SMB who are looking to bring in quick deployment and operational simplicity to virtualization workloads and reduce related expenses, our solution is a HyperConverged Appliance (HСA). StarWind unifies: commodity servers and storage hardware, hypervisor (Hyper-V now and vSphere) and associated software into a single scalable layer. StarWind HyperConverged Appliance has minimalistic initial hardware footprint of just two servers. Network switches are optional. Scaling unit is just one server at a time. Compute and storage resources can be leveraged individually matching customer workload and other requirements. HСA is pre-configured, pre-tested and pre-tuned for every specific case, and shipped by StarWind’s hardware partners.

StarWind employs the “best of breed” components for HСA: Servers from Dell, disks from WD, flash from Intel, etc. We offer Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere as the hypervisors of choice. StarWind Virtual SAN is used for virtual storage and Veeam Backup and Replication utilized for VM backup. In order to manage the hypervisor, Microsoft SCVMM is employed (optionally – 5nine Manager) and for security – ESET Antivirus (optionally – 5nine Antivirus). We cut down operational costs even further by allowing the use of either a free Hyper-V Server or a full-blown Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V role enabled. The latter comes with a number of Windows VMs already licensed, thus reducing TCO. StarWind is the “one throat to choke” in terms of support.

StarWind HСA costs at least 40% less than all the components separately, thanks to cooperation between StarWind and their software and hardware partners.

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance targets those, who are building their virtualization infrastructure from scratch. In case there’s an existing set of servers or vendor lock-in, there’s a “software only version”, which is essentially our years proven StarWind Virtual SAN. Basically, it’s the main fuel, powering our HyperConverged Appliance.

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance – all-in-one virtualization solution

Conclusion

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is a virtualization solution crafted right for SMB and remote offices: not adopted or “corner cut” for them, but designed from scratch and purpose-built to meet their unique needs. It comes either as an all-inclusive turnkey product complete with hardware or a software solution to deploy the HСA on existing industry-standard hardware.