Almost one year of Cisco HyperFlex
It’s a little more than one year, since I was able to attend my technical education for the launch of the HyperFlex product. In March 2016 we launched the “Datacenter in a box – Cisco HyperFlex” product.
I learned about the new HX-Series platform that provides a really hyperconverged solution that integrates Compute, Network and Storage with the inclusion of the Hypervisor under the Cisco UCS Compute architecture.
Since then we had the success in Switzerland of a good number of deployments and also the pleasure to have customer that are now references, when it comes to speak about the HyperFlex solution and what value it brought to them. Some customers already expanded their first installation by adding more nodes or even extending it to other locations.
Before I highlight some new features, functions and enhancements we made to the platform since then, I would like to bring some audience of this blog to the same level and give a short overview about the HyperFlex product.
The Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform includes:
- Enterprise-class data management features that are required for complete lifecycle management and enhanced data protection in distributed storage environments—including replication, deduplication, compression, thin provisioning, rapid, space-efficient clones, and snapshots
- Simplified data management that integrates storage functions into existing management tools, allowing instant provisioning, cloning, and snapshots of applications for dramatically simplified daily operations
- Independent scaling of the computing, caching, and capacity tiers, giving you the flexibility to scale the environment based on evolving business needs
- Continuous data optimization with inline data deduplication and compression that increases resource utilization with more headroom for data scaling
- Dynamic data placement in node memory, enterprise-class flash memory (on solid-state disk [SSD] drives), and persistent storage tiers (on hard-disk drives [HDDs]) to optimize performance and resiliency—and to readjust data placement as you scale your cluster
What has changed?
At general availabilty the HX Data Platform software the version was 1.7.1. Since September of 2016 version 1.8.1 is out and added some new features to it. But not only with a new version of the HX Data Platform software, enhancements and features are made possible. Through leveraging the strength of UCS architecture and products and extending product qualifications into the HX-Series products, it was possible to also provide new hardware support, interoperability qualifications or adding other licenses for the hypervisor.
- New Intel E5-2600 V4 CPU (Broadwell): Almost at the same time when announcing the new Intel CPU for UCS B- and C-Series, this was also available for ordering for the HyperFlex Platform
- NVIDIA GPUs: To provide a better graphical experience and performance for VDI environments only 2 months after availability of the HX Data Platform, these cards were qualified and supported.
- vSphere licensing: Helping to reduce the costs is one of the goals using a hyperconverged platform. With the support of vSphere ROBO Edition, Essential Plus and Standard, additional to the Enterprise+ license, the customer can choose between the license he really needs for the hypervisor integration and does not depend from the version the hyperconverged platforms demands.
- C-Series as compute only: Additionally to the UCS B-Series blades, that were available to scale with compute only nodes, C-Series 220 and 240 servers were qualified to be used as compute only nodes.
- Non HX-UCS Support: You can extend your HX UCS domain with B-Series and C-Series to protect your investment and integrate it into your centralized UCS management.
- External Storage Support: As you can now extend with non HX UCS components, you may want to access external storage through this servers. This is supported either directly attached to the UCS Fabric Interconnects (FIs), through a Fibre Channel SAN or iSCSI DC Switch attached to the FIs. The vSphere Cluster on the HX Platform can as well access the external storage in case the demand is there to use block storage access for the Datastores the VMs are accessing (e.g. MS Exchange).
These enhancements did have nothing to do with the version 1.8.1 that was made available September 2016. With 1.8.1 we introduced
- Improved Installer Capabilities: You now enter all the necessary information into the installers form and it will create all the necessary prerequisites on the VMWare, UCSM and as well do the needed post install configuration on vCenter and the ESXi servers. In 1.7.1 you had to do the preparation manually and then start the installer with the provided input. We achieved with that a deployment of an HX cluster in only 34 minutes. More details can be seen in this video
- Non-disruptive Rolling Upgrades of UCS Firmware and HX Software and Integrated Upgrade
…. more to come in my next blog. Stay tuned!