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How Clustered HCI Appliances Ensure Hyper-Availability

7

AUGUST, 2020

Strong, reliable, and above all, omnipresent, the “Dioscuri” demigods of Greek mythology encapsulated heroics of yesteryear. In the world of storage virtualization and hyperconvergence, there is a new pair of twins: the TwinHCI – high availability HCI appliances that can be considered as the technological “Dioscuri”.

StoneFly’s clustered hyper-converged appliances is the answer to a prevalent problem: high-availability of critical workloads. The TwinHCI does that with an automated feature and minimum IT staff intervention; but more on that later.

Table of Contents

To simplify your reading experience, here is the summarized content:

  • Why is data availability necessary?
  • The Challenges of Ensuring Data Availability with Traditional Clustered HCI Systems
  • Introducing StoneFly TwinHCI System: Twin Clustered High Availability HCI Appliances
  • How TwinHCI Clustered High Availability HCI Appliances Work
  • TwinHCI Systems: Software & Hardware Features
  • What can StoneFly TwinHCI Systems do?
  • Use-Cases of Dual-Node Clustered HCI Appliances

Before we explore the hows and whats of the TwinHCI, first let’s briefly discuss the necessity and  the challenges of ensuring high availability for mission-critical data.

Why is data availability necessary?

In the competitive business landscape of today, speed is important; in many cases it is THE competitive edge that can make or break your business.

For example, a retail business cannot tolerate the unavailability of their check-out system or their inventory system. Similarly, financial service providers have to ensure speedy and disruption-free transaction experience for their customers.

In the same way, healthcare, entertainment, marketing, and other industries have increased dependency on data availability, speed-of-access, and speed-of-service.

To facilitate speedy and active service provision and an “always available” business experience, data availability is necessary; critical applications, Virtual Machines (VMs), and software, of said businesses, need to stay on and be accessible at all times.

The Challenge of Ensuring Data Availability with Traditional Clustered HCI Systems

Verily data availability is crucial for most, if not all, businesses regardless of size and industry. Business owners realize this. However, setting up a system that guarantees high availability in a “challenging” budget can be a daunting task filled with many problems.

Here are four major challenges most IT professionals experience when looking to setup high availability enterprise infrastructure with virtualization and hyperconvergence:

Onsite IT Staff: Necessary

In order to make sure that critical infrastructure components like servers, network switches, and storage arrays, are always operational and working at optimum capacity, you need a dedicated team of onsite IT staff; that’s always on-call.

 

It goes without saying that not all business models have room for onsite IT staff. However, due to high availability requirements, it becomes a necessary (and expensive) evil.

 

Complex Data Management & Orchestration

One of the best ways to ensure high availability is by the use of appliance clustering. Traditional clustering processes tend to be time consuming, complex, and prone to errors.

IT professionals have to manage all the moving parts (which tend to be quite a few), put them together, troubleshoot, and then continue troubleshooting as they push the home-made solution to use for enterprise workloads.

Additionally, data management is a hassle and when it’s time to upgrade (usually within the first five years), it incurs twice the cost because it’s done via forklift upgrades.

Furthermore, data protection and storage optimization capabilities are done via third party add-ons; this also adds to the overall cost of the high availability HCI system – consequently, making it too expensive for most business models.

Data Security Risks & Compliance Issues

The major trouble with systems that are put together using many different parts are the data security risks.

Usually, IT professionals rely on open source software and/or Windows-based third party OS to configure the system. This makes the entire hyperconverged infrastructure vulnerable to cyber-threats like ransowmare, malware, and virus infections. As the vulnerabilities and loop holes of open-source and Windows-based systems are fairly well-known, hackers and malware find a way in and compromise critical business information. 

Considering the vulnerabilities in a traditional high availability HCI system, compliance becomes a challenge to say the least – storing, securing, and managing sensitive data as dictated by regulatory authorities is either time consuming or requires dedicated cyber-security managers or compliance managers; usually both.

In other words, relying on said DIY systems, can not only lead to disruption or downtime but to losses in millions (or more depending on the scale and operations of the organization); while making compliance all the more difficult.

Cost Implications of DIY High Availability Systems

Contrary to first impressions, DIY (do-it-yourself) high availability systems are not as in-expensive as some might argue.

The total cost of ownership (TCO) is incredibly high when the cost of onsite IT staff, hardware issues, software patches, third party add-ons, and other similar components are taken into consideration.

Now that we’ve discussed the necessity of data availabaility and the challenges of ensuring it, let’s talk about StoneFly’s solution to the above mentioned challenges: the TwinHCI system.

Introducing StoneFly TwinHCI System: Twin Clustered High Availability HCI Appliances

The TwinHCI systems set up dual node HCI appliance configuration with active/ active clustered nodes that have automated failover/failback features across Local Area Networks (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN). The twin nodes are built to ensure continuity and data availability and deliver near-zero downtime; making them a great fit for organizations in need of infrastructure with no single-point-of-failure.

Dual-Node Clustered HCI Appliances: The Key to Data Availability

Powered by industry-standard hypervisors, the TwinHCI systems enable StoneFly customers to reduce data center footprint and replace servers, switches, and legacy storage silos with highly scalable, easily manageable, and cost-effective Virtual Machines (VMs). Additionally, the built-in cloud connect features facilitate cloud integration and allow users to also leverage cloud storage for a variety of applications, use-cases, and projects.

As opposed to conventional DIY clustered HCI systems, the TwinHCI are preconfigured, tested and ready to deploy – all StoneFly customers have to do is configure the management networks, plug, and play. To help with the configuration and deployment, StoneFly also offers professional services. In other words, when you choose to buy from StoneFly, you get the complete package minus the hassle.

How TwinHCI Clustered High Availability HCI Appliances Work

Dual-Node Clustered HCI Appliances: The Key to Data Availability

With software-defined networking the TwinHCI write data simultaneously on both nodes. This clustered configuration ensures that each appliance node has data committed to it. Evidently, this delivers the capability that even if one appliance node is down, for maintenance or unavailable for any other reason (disasters, etc.), the organization continues to operate without interruption by accessing the secondary node.

TwinHCI Systems: Software & Hardware Features

The architecture of StoneFly TwinHCI systems can be split into two major parts:

  • Software: Storage OS & Hypervisor
  • Hardware: Processor, System Memory, Network Ports, etc.

Storage Operating System (OS) of StoneFly TwinHCI Systems

Dual-Node Clustered HCI Appliances: The Key to Data Availability

The TwinHCI high availability HCI appliance systems come preconfigured with StoneFly storage operating system (SCVM). StoneFly SCVM delivers an array of data protection and storage optimization features to ensure that users get maximum value at minimum cost.

Data Protection Features of TwinHCI Systems

The following are popular features StoneFly customers show particular interest in. If you’d like to know the detailed list, contact StoneFly sales.

Immutable Snapshots

Configure read-only volume snapshots to protect critical VMs and/or entire virtual environment

WORM Storage

Secure and compliant Write-Once, Read-Many storage repositories fit for critical workloads

Air-Gapped Volumes

Set up detachable & isolated air gap volumes to store critical data & protect them from cyber-security threats

Backup Vault

Isolated software-defined virtual Linux appliance with real-time replication capabilities. Store replicas of critical volumes for data redundancy, high availability, and business continuity.

Storage Optimization Features

The following are popular features StoneFly customers show particular interest in. If you’d like to know the detailed list, contact StoneFly sales.

Deduplication

Reduces up to 10x data footprint by removing unnecessary copies & compressing data

Thin Provisioning

Repurpose unused storage, reclaim space, & speed up storage provisioning for new applications & projects.

FlashCache

Enhances IOPS by leveraging high-performance flash drives (SSDs) for frontend SSD

Automated NAS Tiering

Automate data transfers of NAS volumes between high performance, capacity, and archiving storage tiers

Advanced Data Services

The following are popular features StoneFly customers show particular interest in. If you’d like to know the detailed list, contact StoneFly sales.

Sync & Async Replication

Setup real-time replication or scheduled replication jobs of VMs and store replicas on multiple appliances or site (including integrated cloud-based repositories)

Real-Time Graphical Performance Reporting

Effectively monitor, control, and manage your virtual servers and storage infrastructure with real-time graphical performance reporting of metrics such as CPU usage, network usage, system memory usage, and more.

Supported Hypervisors for TwinHCI Systems

The TwinHCI are hypervisor-agnostic clustered hyper-converged appliances. This means that you can choose which hypervisor is deployed on the TwinHCI.

Supported hypervisors include:

  • StoneFly Persepolis
  • VMware
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Citrix (formerly XenServer)
  • KVM

StoneFly customers can choose to bring their own license (BYOL) or purchase the licenses directly from StoneFly.

TwinHCI Systems: Available Appliances

Each appliance series features multi-core processors, high-performance system memory, high-speed network ports, and enterprise storage drives with multiple customizations and upgrade options.

Also, the StoneFly TwinHCI high availability HCI appliance systems are available in three appliance series:

  • D-Series (for small to mid-tier organizations)
  • XS-Series (for mid-tier to large organizations)
  • XD-Series (for enterprise-level organization)

What Can StoneFly TwinHCI Systems Do?

TwinHCI HCI appliance clustering Systems can facilitate:

Data Center Consolidation: Replace expensive storage silos & dedicated servers with easily manageable & seamlessly scalable virtual servers & VMs.

Disruption- Free Data Accessibility: Ensure that data is always available when needed in environments with no tolerance for delay, e.g. healthcare, finance, etc.

Future-Proof Infrastructure: Seamlessly scale provisioned volumes, or integrate cloud repositories, to quickly add storage & performance.

Less Hardware, Less Cost – Added Value: Add more capabilities with minimum costs and little to no hardware additions such as cloud archiving, cloud disaster recovery, configuring backup & DR, and more.

Use-Cases of Dual-Node Clustered HCI Appliances

StoneFly TwinHCI dual node HCI appliance systems are suitable for all environments & organizations looking to ensure disruption-free access to critical workloads with minimum to no IT staff intervention. Here are a few examples where TwinHCI systems are a great fit:

Healthcare Services: Healthcare cannot tolerate delay, downtime, or data inaccessibility. TwinHCI systems ensure disruption-free & continuous operations for healthcare organizations.

Finance Industry: Financial data is critical for all businesses and organizations. It has to be always available. With HCI appliance clustering such as TwinHCI, data owners maintain continuous access to important financial information.

Power Sector: In a digitally connected world, “going dark” is not an option. Service providers rely on an array of software & data to prevent an outage. TwinHCI systems make sure that these software & data is always available so that the lights are always on.

Law Departments: Security footage, criminal profiles, investigation data, and other similar information have to be readily available to facilitate law department & affiliated organizations. TwinHCI systems make sure that these critical files are secure & always available.

Best fit for environments in need of high availability with minimum IT staff intervention: TwinHCI systems, equipped with automated failover and failback, ensure that critical VMs remain available with minimum IT staff intervention; even when an appliance experiences a disaster. This makes them suitable for all kinds of organizations that do not have IT staff on-site but rely on applications and digital data for daily operations.

Wondering if the TwinHCI systems are a good fit for your use-case? Our pre-sales engineers can help, contact them today

Conclusion

While the “Dioscuri” are myth, their technological counterparts have become a reality in the form of StoneFly TwinHCI systems.

Instead of juggling multiple moving parts and over-spending on DIY high availability clustered HCI systems – get the preconfigured, ready-to-use and battle-tested StoneFly TwinHCI systems; and ensure high availability for your VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, Citrix, or StoneFly Persepolis workloads.  

Build a High Availability Clustered HCI System with the TwinHCI

To schedule a demo, or to request a quote, contact us by sending us an email, calling us, or reaching out to us in the live chat section. 

Email:                   sales@stonefly.com

Phone:                 +1 510 265-1616

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