Sean Siegmund

Hyper/Converged the “Hitachi Way”

Blog Post created by Sean Siegmund Employee on Dec 14, 2018

Introduction:

It’s time to modernize your IT infrastructure, and your team is looking to collect the information needed to select the right foundation that fits your strategic business needs. The ideal solution optimizes existing applications and operates CapEx and OpEx efficiently.   Not all your IT systems will transfer to any cloud platform today, but leaving the systems stuck in a traditional IT infrastructure will mean more headaches to come. Converged Infrastructure (CI)and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HC) solutions have what you need to manage the day-to-day IT operations and allow you to tackle tomorrows challenges efficiently. The decision on your hands will require a balanced approach to support many of the different workloads and applications living today on your data center floor.

With these needs in mind, Architects at Hitachi Vantara have built a set of UCP solutions targeted for hyperconverged and converged solutions.  These infrastructure solutions utilize the same core hardware components and leverage the same management and automation tools. With these solutions, you can now have workloads fit onto the underlying hardware they will require to keep the IT systems highly available while still being able to meet the performance demands of the business.

Converged Versus Hyperconverged

The popularity of both of these technologies’ rests with the fact that both solutions make it easier for administrators to interact with the underlying hardware. The essential difference between CI and HC is how the storage and network components are deployed and utilized. These solutions utilize virtualization, the same compute CPUs and memory, and they both utilize disks in a hybrid (flash and non-flash) or all flash form. Hyperconverged (HC) Infrastructures, however, use local direct attached storage (vSAN), along with software-defined storage and networking. You can manage all resources from a single administration pane; this includes the hypervisor (virtual) and hardware (physical) elements. Hyperconverged Infrastructure solutions operate in a flat architecture, where the compute nodes are handling the bulk of the work including all storage capabilities.

Converged Infrastructure (CI) combines compute, storage and network as a single resource. The elements are pre-defined by the hardware vendor and can also include automation and orchestration management software. The storage sub-system connects to a SAN and supplies storage to the compute infrastructure. When using Hitachi Enterprise storage, memory DIMMs within the storage platform are caching all I/O, and the storage array is capable of 32 Gb FC speeds per port.

The focal point with these two technologies comes down to a few aspects - are your compute resources budgeted to do specific clustered workloads, or do you need infrastructure that will have dedicated components for the network and storage layers? Can the business benefit from a self-service model, or will the mundane tasks of today be benefited by the orchestration of a CI solution?

CI and HC solutions have a various number of trade-offs and benefits, but everyone should evaluate these infrastructure solutions on an organizational and divisional basis when attuning HC servers for a given workload. The workloads running within an HC environment should have the same characteristics to share the HC resources properly. Otherwise, competing workloads can be migrated to another HC cluster. HC will allow end users to properly test and tune developmental tasks without the need for significant interaction with HC infrastructure administrators. HC allows IT departments and stakeholders to deploy on-demand with a tailored HC platform while enabling a common administration framework across all HC solutions implemented.

Conversely, CI solutions embrace many different workloads due to the features of an Enterprise Storage system and other hardware components.  Within a virtualized environment, CI accelerates hardware deployment of new systems and increases performance and resource utilization. With a CI system, you can rest assured that the system is ready to function with no interoperability pitfalls.  CI systems are a set of resources which can be provisioned across multiple divisions while using a qualified hardware platform common for IT resources.

Hitachi has a proven track record of deep expertise in striking the right balance within each of these platforms, cementing again the need to have a partner with expertise in the right fit for your business and not specialized in any particular infrastructure. As part of your digital transformation, do you have a partner skilled in positioning the best overall infrastructure solution to meet your business needs?

Hitachi UCP HC

The Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) for HC is a set of compute nodes which have been approved by VMware to run as a vSAN ReadyNode configuration. Hitachi utilizes DS120, DS220, and DS225 models as the compute resource for Hitachi UCP HC platform.  Several configurations have certified ranging from HY4 – HY8 to AF4 – AF8 series. With the various contributions, Hitachi has made available a wide range of offerings that will match the specific workload which the platform needs to handle.

A vSphere cluster comprised of vSAN ReadyNodes is closely tied to ESXi versioning and other software related components from VMware. All of the Hitachi UCP HC configurations allow for SSD cache and your choice of a hybrid solution using SATA or an all-flash solution within the capacity tier. Within the UCP HC solution, the use of NVIDIA GPUs is also available, allowing for improved performance of high demand workloads.

In September 2018, the Hitachi UCP HC solution included an important emerging technology, which is sure to be part of the future of all modern-day Datacenters. NVMe is a fast data access protocol, improving performance flash and other non-volatile storage devices. It debuts within the Hitachi UCP HC platform and will be rolled out into all of the Hitachi Storage Product Line starting 2019. For more information about the UCP HC All-NVMe solution, please see the following links.

  • Announcement

            https://www.hitachivantara.com/en-us/news-resources/press-releases/2018/gl180926.html

UCP HC product management blog – Hitachi + VMware vSAN + Intel Optane NVMe = Turbocharged Hyperconverged Infrastructure
https://community.hitachivantara.com/people/DISINGH/blog/2018/09/26/hitachi-vmware-vsan-intel-optane-nvme-turbocharged-hyperconverged-infrastructure

The UCP HC solution grows as needed simply by adding additional nodes to the configuration, where competitors upgrade in blocks of nodes. With software-defined storage and network, there is no need for extra backend storage or resources outside of the UCP HC compute cluster. Hitachi UCP for HC gives teams the simplified infrastructure they need to align with their business needs and sustain important SLA’s. In a vSphere vSAN-based cluster, all of the VMware tools required for storage and network are included to maintain, expand and support critical business applications. For more information and overview of the Hitachi UCP HC platform, please see the following link:

https://www.hitachivantara.com/en-us/products/converged-systems/unified-compute-platform-hc-series.html

Hitachi UCP CI

The Hitachi UCP CI platform is a set of compute nodes, storage systems and network switches combined to present a pre-tested, pre-configured converged infrastructure with VMware vSphere. The solution is delivered as a single rack or in a multi-rack configuration. Hitachi UCP CI utilizes DS120, DS220, DS225, DS240 for compute and VSP Gx00 or VSP Fx00 for storage. UCP CI offers a wide range of element configurations for flexibility and performance regardless of workload requirements. These components can be customized and budgeted to consolidate your current mixed workloads on to a single infrastructure platform. You can grow the platform when needed and optimize the configuration to efficiently use resources to handle the demands of the business today and be ready for tomorrow.

UCP CI integrates management infrastructure, storage systems, and physical switches for network and SAN. As a made-to-order infrastructure, there is a wide range of configuration choices to handle any virtualized workload.  Each compute node has Intel Xeon Skylake processors in Silver, Gold, and Platinum CPU configurations.

The UCP CI platform allows for the use of Hitachi VSP G (Flash Optimized) and Hitachi VSP F (All-Flash) disk storage systems. Based on Single Rack or Multi Rack designs, the choice of the following  storage systems can be selected:

  • VSP G200
  • VSP G/F350
  • VSP G/F370
  • VSP G/F400
  • VSP G/F600
  • VSP G/F700
  • VSP G/F900
  • VSP G/F1000
  • VSP G/F1500

UCP CI supports using the same node type across the solution, or an intermix of DS120, DS220, DS225 and DS240 nodes along with the many different Hitachi Storage Product offerings. The UCP CI infrastructure is an agile environment where Hitachi customers benefit from placing many different IT solutions within the same UCP CI. With our latest release of UCP CI, Hitachi Engineering has developed a seamless integration of HC nodes into a standard UCP CI platform. The incorporation of these solutions means you can now utilize UCP CI-based nodes for your mixed workload environments and run HC vSAN-based clusters side-by-side – all in one single Hitachi platform. For more information and overview of the Hitachi UCP CI platform, please see the following link:

https://www.hitachivantara.com/en-us/products/converged-systems/unified-compute-platform-ci-series.html

Hitachi UCP Advisor

UCP Advisor management software from Hitachi supports both the UCP CI and UCP HC solutions. The Hitachi UCP Advisor provides detailed information about the infrastructure components and allows you to manage operations for connected devices. The UCP Advisor software is deeply integrated with VMware leveraging vCenter server and VCSA. It offers exceptional value for both platforms and the administrators who maintain and deploy them.

UCP Advisor simplifies infrastructure operations. Seamless integration allows automated provisioning of the UCP systems for both converged and hyperconverged infrastructure. It[CG1] provides unified management, central oversight, and smart life-cycle management for firmware upgrades, element visibility, and troubleshooting.

Benefits of UCP CI and UCP HC

With the combination of these two solutions and their flexibilities, you will see the Hitachi Converged strategy as a foundation for many of the practical challenges facing our customers today. IT departments are having to manage resources with an ever-growing amount of scrutiny. New technologies are continuing to come to market at a faster pace. Today more than ever you need a strategic infrastructure solution which can cover all of your stakeholder's needs. While each department within your organization may have different needs, does it make sense for each department to purchase vendor defined hyperconverged and converged platforms which your company will need more specialized skills to support?

Infrastructure solutions like UCP CI and UCP HC are transformative architectures when compared to traditional infrastructures. However, this transformation does not need to be disruptive to every application in your domain. Starting early to identify which IT systems have the best chance to succeed in a self-service hyperconverged model, or within a converged infrastructure where workloads can be accurately evaluated to graduate into a hyperconverged tier.  You now have a platform from Hitachi that will support both technologies without harmful waste of assets or IT spend.

Now all parts of the IT systems can see some advancement with the available architectures, and the blending of UCP HC with UCP CI can allow for a phased approach to your every changing landscape.  As your partner in your transformation, Hitachi is the best choice to transform your IT platform and will partner with you through all phases of your transformation efforts.

 

Conclusion

Hitachi Vantara has played an essential role in the IT systems of the past and will indefinitely for the future. With over 100 years of experience in the “Hitachi Way,” aren’t you interested in partnering with a company whose engineering spirit is alive and thriving in many of the Fortune 500 companies today? As early adopters of both technologies, the Hitachi roadmap is all about building value for continued customer satisfaction.  Partner with Hitachi Vantara and get your infrastructure solution ready for tomorrows challenges.

Outcomes