Hyperconverged platforms: who needs them and how to use them


Moore’s Law no longer works, the limitations of x86 processors have led to developers waging a war for every GHz. In these circumstances, the way out could be a transition to the vStack hyperconvergent platform. The hyperconverged platform is a high-tech solution that can be used in a variety of applications. This multifunctional solution is suitable for almost all areas and sectors of business: providers, developers, banks, educational institutions, SaaS providers, retail and many others. For example, one of the successful examples of the platform’s application is cases where horizontally scalable software is used.

In this article, we describe the benefits of hyperconverged platforms and discuss the most popular applications, using one of the best examples — vStack.

What are hyperconverged platforms

Hyperconvergence is an approach to building IT infrastructure where computing, storage and networking functions are implemented on each of the same infrastructure elements.

A hyperconverged platform is based on advanced technologies that combine software-defined storage, compute and networking layers. Cluster nodes do not have dedicated roles, providing operation of only one of the layers. Each of the nodes provides the work of all three layers.

The advantages of such a platform include:

  • avoiding the excessive complexity of infrastructure;
  • elimination of infrastructure discreteness;
  • management of the entire infrastructure from a single point via a single web-interface;
  • flexibility and scalability of the platform, in which all components are software-defined;
  • no binding to a specific hardware vendor.

An example of a Russian enterprise-level hyperconverged platform is vStack from ITGLOBAL.COM LABS. vStack is included in the RF software registry (record #11995 from 18.11.2021) and can replace the platform from VMware, which has left the market. It is a managed virtual data center of Enterprise level. The platform can replace storage and virtualization tools in companies of various sizes.

The solution is based on the idea of using standard server hardware and consists of software-defined data center modules using Open Source technologies combined into one infrastructure. At the core of vStack is its own operating system based on FreeBSD, file system for data storage ZFS and virtualization system based on bhyve hypervisor. Combining these technologies allowed to achieve high efficiency of the solution as a whole.

Who is suitable for the vStack hyperconvergent platform

Decision of the vStack is successfully used in a variety of areas. First of all, the platform is used by service providers, SaaS-service providers and development companies. Also among vStack clients there are state institutions, organizations working in banking, education, industry, healthcare, GameDev, E-commerce. The platform’s functionality is also suitable for the development of streaming services.

There is a special preferential licensing program for educational, cultural and charitable organizations. It allows universities, libraries, museums and foundations to use vStack under a perpetual academic license. The price of the discounted license is much lower than the standard license, and the term of the promotion is until August 31, 2022.

Options for using the vStack platform

There are many ways to use the vStack platform.
We will describe the most popular ones, in which the platform is used as efficiently as possible.

Users can choose between two vStack licensing models: OPEX and CAPEX. OPEX is a service model where fees are paid monthly and depend on CPU, RAM, and Storage.

Horizontal Scalable Software

The use of horizontal scalability helps to reduce the company’s costs. With this approach, there is no need to use expensive components, because the failure of a single unit of horizontal scalable software does not affect the operation of the entire software. At the same time, if desired, the customer can also install premium components. The vStack platform allows you to independently decide what to save on, choosing which components should be expensive, and for which budget or consumable variant is enough.

Thus, the ability to use consumable hardware components, the ability to use n+2 redundancy in a vStack cluster, and the use of horizontally scalable software in guest OS virtual machines in a vStack cluster are sums that provide a very high efficiency solution at a low cost.

Remote Office Infrastructure

VDI (desktop virtualization) is necessary for companies whose employees work remotely at least some of the time. A remote office allows you to protect information from leaks due to the fault of in-house specialists. At the same time, the administrator can track suspicious actions of employees. For example, viewing documents of other departments. The documents themselves will be stored in a single place, which will simplify their search, backup and timely updating. При этом сотрудники смогут работать с одинаковой производительностью, независимо от того, каким оборудованием они пользуются.

Как правило, коммерческие решения для VDI имеют высокую цену за счет внедрения в эти решения огромного количества функций. Однако, не все из этих функций реально востребованы, а многие из них могут быть реализованы средствами гостевых операционных систем. Due to optimization the price of such VDI element is reduced to the cost of a virtual machine, which in the case of vStack is significantly lower than the cost of competing virtual machines.

Software Development and Testing Environment

With vStack you can build an environment for software development and testing on low-cost servers without sacrificing performance. The ready test environment will not concede to the industrial environment on Hi-End equipment. This allows you to simultaneously reduce the cost of the test loop and achieve compliance to Test and Prod.

For example, if a company has 20 teams working on one product and each has a personal test bench, 90% of the budget will go to providing these test benches. The vStack platform combines low cost and high performance. At the same time, the customer himself chooses enterprise or commodity disks, forms the contours and characteristics of the system. This allows you to optimize the cost of dev and test environments, both through the use of less expensive hardware, and through the use of oversubscription of resources through virtualization capabilities.

CAPEX or on-premise involves a one-time purchase of ownership licenses with annual support fees. For the on-premise model, an overcommit of 33% of the resources specified in the contract is available.

On-prem installations

On-premise is a software usage model where the customer takes ownership of a perpetual software license and installs it on their own servers.

The vStack platform is infrastructure software with which the user can create virtual data centers, to which networks (routed and isolated) are connected and virtual machines are created.

The vStack platform can be used in different areas and areas of business. With the ability to select equipment independently and reduce platform maintenance staff to one or two people, this solution allows you to save budget without loss of performance or data security.

Reduced costs, no vendor lock-in, and other vStack benefits

The platform vStack combines compute, storage and virtualization resources into a single solution that can be managed from a single point. This means that your company needs far fewer resources to administer and scale your infrastructure. This helps reduce IT infrastructure budgets.

Other advantages of the platform include:

  • No vendor lock-in – no attachment to a particular vendor of server hardware. The vStack user chooses the hardware and its accessories himself.
  • Reduced personnel costs. Single interface for IT infrastructure management allows you to use only one administrator instead of a staff of specialists.
  • Cutting software and licensing costs. You pay only for the resources you actually use.
  • Cost cutting on equipment. Often it is enough for a company to buy budget servers and SSD-drives to solve its problems.
  • High performance in all conditions, including CPU overcommit.
  • CPU overhead – the difference in performance between physical and virtual server CPUs in vStack is 2-5%, with an average of 10-15%.
  • Flexible scalability. Software-defined modules allow you to quickly scale up resources and replace failed components.
  • Instant deployment. Customers do not need to wait for equipment deliveries from certain vendors. Servers can be ordered from the warehouses of Russian suppliers.
  • Time to create a virtual machine with a high degree of customization – 15-30 seconds.

Hyperconverged infrastructure allows you to reduce hardware, software and personnel costs without sacrificing performance. The vStack HCP platform from vStack.com, a venture-backed startup funded by the ITGV.COM Foundation, allows you to create a hyperconverged infrastructure with an Enterprise-level virtual data center on standard hardware. This is especially in demand where CPU performance is the cornerstone, when creating virtual offices and dev and test environments in a virtual environment.

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