Not a One Trick, Hyper-Converged Pony

HP StoreVirtual Briefing Note

HP’s journey to hyper-convergence started in Colorado when they purchased LeftHand Networks. The LeftHand Networks solution was one of the first software-based storage solutions and one of the first scale-out storage solutions. It also happened to be a solution that could be virtualized and run within a virtual infrastructure like VMware. HP rebranded the LeftHand storage system as StoreVirtual with LeftHand OS. StoreVirtual represents a full portfolio of storage solutions ranging from a dedicated storage appliance to a turnkey hyper-converged architecture.

The LeftHand OS

The LeftHand OS is at the core of each of the members of the StoreVirtual portfolio. As a scale-out storage solution, it typically requires a three-node configuration to start, but HP has added a two node starter option which leverages the file share for the third copy. The software has all the features expected in a mature storage solution like snapshots and replication. Each node can support a mixture of flash and HDD. The LeftHand OS can automatically tier data between the two device types.

Proven Reliability

In a field of newcomers HP positions itself as the highly reliable option claiming, a reported five nines of uptime (99.999%). The foundational component of this uptime is the LeftHand OS’s Network RAID, which stripes and protects multiple copies of data across a cluster of storage nodes, eliminating any single point of failure. Nodes in the cluster can be intelligently distributed between racks, rows or even campus locations. Data can also be asynchronously replicated to disaster recovery sites. The software also supports volume migration, allowing data to be transferred between LeftHand storage clusters seamlessly without incurring application downtime.

A Software Defined Portfolio

With the LeftHand OS as its foundation, the StoreVirtual product family comes in a wide variety of configurations. The StoreVirtual 4000 Storage Appliance integrates the LeftHand OS onto dedicated storage hardware. The StoreVirtual 4000 comes in a performance configuration with solid state disks (SSD) and 10K HDDs as well as capacity configurations scalable to 1.6PBs.

The HP StoreVirtual portfolio also covers data centers looking to converge their infrastructure, moving storage into the compute tier. HP accomplishes this with the HP StoreVirtual VSA (virtual storage appliance). The StoreVirtual VSA is the same LeftHand OS, but packaged into a virtual machine. With the VSA, the internal storage of each node in the hypervisor cluster is aggregated into a single pool of storage which can then be split into multiple volumes and presented to the other virtual machines via iSCSI.

Unlike many hyper-converged solutions, the HP StoreVirtual VSA is certified to work with a variety of hypervisors including VMware, Hyper-V, and KVM. HP also offers the CS 200-HC StoreVirtual System, that leverages the HP StoreVirtual VSA to create a turnkey hyper-converged architecture based on VMware.

A Hyper-Converged Bridge

As data centers look to converge their architectures one of the key challenges they face is how they should integrate hyper-convergence into their non-converged environment. In most cases, this leads to only using hyper-convergence for net new IT projects like desktop virtualization, not extending existing ones. HP’s StoreVirtual VSA and the StoreVirtual System can present iSCSI volumes to hosts that are not hyper-converged, allowing the blending of the two architecture types. Another unique capability of the HP hyper-converged strategy is that it can grow independently with the addition of StoreVirtual 4000 or StoreVirtual VSA.

StorageSwiss Take

HP StoreVirtual is an impressive portfolio of solutions for mid-range data centers. In a single product family, based on a single OS, IT professionals can find solutions that provide dedicated shared storage or hyper-converged economics. The portfolio’s ability to connect legacy shared storage architectures with a shared everything hyper-converged architecture is especially attractive to data centers considering that transition.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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Posted in Briefing Note

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