Hyper-converged architectures collapse compute, storage and networking into a single tier so that a few servers can run all of an organization’s applications while also supplying the supporting storage and network infrastructure. These designs seem ideal for the small to medium sized business and seem like an obvious first choice as the business begins to scale.
For these businesses the problem is that many hyper-converged solutions are either do-it-yourself ‘science projects’ that become too time consuming or expensive, or turnkey solutions that are out of the reach of the small business budget. NIMBOXX released a cost effective, turnkey, hyper-converged solution last year that was designed to address these challenges. The simplicity and cost effectiveness of their solutions have been popular with the SMB data center and have also caught the attention of larger organizations. In the latest release NIMBOXX delivers hardware and software to meet the demands of these larger customers.
The NIMBOXX Architecture
As we detail in our initial NIMBOXX briefing note “Converged Architecture for the rest of us?“ NIMBOXX is a turnkey hyper-converged solution that includes all the software and hardware that an organization needs. The goal is to plug the system in and start creating virtual machines. NIMBOXX uses a replication strategy to provide data protection. This means that all the data that a VM needs is stored on the node it’s running on, there is no need to read data across the network during normal operations. This gives NIMBOXX the ability to start with as little as two nodes (most hyper-converged systems require three nodes).
For performance the NIMBOXX solution has an automatic tiering capability that leverages RAM, SSD and hard disk drives. All writes go to the SSD first and then to HDD and all reads are serviced, as best as possible, from RAM.
In the 1.3.1 release of their software, MESHOS, NIMBOXX includes new high availability features, including Multiple vNICs per VM, new reports via their dashboard, Group actions per virtual machine and support for integration of VMs from other platforms, like VMware. In addition to the software update NIMBOXX also updated their server hardware to create a new, more powerful node.
High Availability for the Masses
As mentioned above, NIMBOXX has already had data protection built into the solution since the first release last year. But larger organizations need a greater degree of automation, so this year they’ve added high availability features, which means monitoring of the VM via a heartbeat link. If the monitored VM stops responding after a set period of time the HA software kicks in and starts the secondary VM on another node. This HA capability is also available on even the basic two node configurations. In multi-node configurations HA can be configured so that the VM of a failed node can be disbursed across multiple surviving nodes.
More Powerful Node
Another development as NIMBOXX customers grow and larger potential customers take notice is the need for more powerful hardware. In response to this demand NIMBOXX is releasing the AU-110X, an upgrade to the AU-110 hardware platform that’s designed to handle more complex, data intensive applications. It has 4X the RAM (256GB) and more than twice the hard disk storage as the previous generation. Again, thanks to NIMBOXX’s replication based data protection scheme, the AU-110X and AU-110 can be mixed with each other in the same cluster.
Even though its vendors tend to focus on large enterprises, hyper-convergence seems like an obvious option for the small to medium sized business. For many of these businesses a two or three node cluster will provide them all the compute power and storage capacity they are likely to need. Now with NIMBOXX’s HA capabilities and more powerful nodes, this solution should attract larger businesses as well.