Today, many organizations are considering Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization platform as an alternative to market behemoth, VMware. But the key to fully delivering on the lower total cost of ownership (TCO) value proposition that Hyper-V offers, is commoditizing the storage infrastructure layer that services the virtual environment.
Many small to medium sized businesses are considering software-defined storage (SDS) solutions as an alternative to deploying costly, traditional shared storage systems. By leveraging the internal disk resources inside a server through an SDS offering, it is possible to keep costs in check and gradually scale-out the environment both from a compute and storage capacity perspective as needed. But the challenge is, some SDS solutions require that a mix of SSD resources be installed on each host.
For many environments, conventional hard disk drives may be more than sufficient to drive application performance. Or in some cases, SSD may only be needed on a few select servers that are hosting highly performance sensitive applications. Mandating the use of SSD in every server can drive costs needlessly higher.
30% Additional Overhead
Another challenge is that some of these SDS technologies require three servers to makeup a server cluster. This means that in addition to the physical hardware (CPU, storage, networking, etc.) costs, there will be an increase in hypervisor software licensing expenditures. In effect, businesses would see their virtualization deployment costs go up by 1/3rd across the board. This combined with the requirement to deploy server-side SSD in every host could make the Hyper-V TCO less than appealing to many businesses. Considering that most servers can comfortably support more than a dozen VMs, this means that the medium sized business would first need to have 36 virtual machines before they could justify the expenditure in CPU resources to accommodate the SDS solution.
Foreign OS Imposition
Finally, an often overlooked design issue that could negatively impact 100% Windows environments is the requirement by some SDS offerings to deploy a Linux VM on to each host to run the SDS software. In addition to contending with the other VMs on the host for server compute resources, this brings an added level of complexity as Windows admins will have to become familiar, at least at a high level, with Linux command line syntax, etc.
Customized Hyper-V SDS
To circumvent the above three challenges, IT planners interested in deploying Hyper-V into a Windows environment, will want to consider SDS technologies which don’t require a separate VM to operate but instead can natively integrate as a fully Windows compatible application directly at the hypervisor layer. Secondly, the solution should provide some choice in terms of how server-side storage resources are deployed. In other words, systems designers should have the flexibility of just deploying hard disk drives (HDDs) or a combination of SSD and HDDs as their environments require.
Keeping the Hyper-V TCO Whole
Lastly, to further keep costs down and to help ensure the lowest TCO possible from a Hyper-V implementation, the SDS solution ideally would only require two servers to makeup a cluster.
In this manner, hardware and software infrastructure investments can be tied to the actual resource and performance needs of the underlying application environment – not something that is artificially imposed by the SDS platform.
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Starwind Software is a client of Storage Switzerland