Axellio’s FabricXpress All-NVMe Server for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI

A Validated Hybrid Strategy for the Most Demanding Environments

The hybrid cloud is the nirvana that most enterprises are chasing. The problem is that most enterprises have not been able to standardize their infrastructure for centralized management. In a previous blog, we discussed the merits of Microsoft’s Azure Stack hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solution when it comes to providing the on-premises infrastructure as well as the single-pane-of-glass management that the hybrid cloud requires. There are many Microsoft validated Azure Stack HCI solutions to choose from, and, in this installment, we will explore the merits of Axellio’s FabricXpress™ all non-volatile memory express (NVMe) platform.

Introducing FabricXpress (FX)

When it comes to optimizing the Azure Stack hybrid cloud environment, the underlying on-premises hardware makes a significant difference in areas such as application performance and overall cost efficiency. Axellio’s focus and differentiation with its FX solution is on developing hardware that facilitates both fast and cost-efficient hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Microsoft Azure Stack HCI uses Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, which natively supports NVMe flash drives. The underlying hardware should also have native support for NVMe, in order to improve application response time. For its part, FabricXpress supports NVMe for faster, sustained throughput (which can be accelerated to up to 60 GB/second, according to Axellio) and for lower end-to-end low latency (less than 50 microseconds of response time, according to Axellio).

FX not only accelerates performance, it also facilitates more work per node. Better node efficiency coupled with the increasing density of solid-state drives (SSDs) enables extreme consolidation of the hardware footprint. According to Axellio, each 2U FabricXpress system can hold up to 88 CPU cores, 460 terabytes (TB) of storage, and 2 TB of RAM.

HCI clusters have typically been deployed to support a specific workload, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which leads to a cluster-per-workload deployment – thus eliminating much of the theoretical simplicity of HCI. FabricXpress, on the other hand, enables organizations to run mixed workloads on a single HCI cluster using a smaller number of nodes due to each node’s high-performance, high-density configuration. The single cluster with less nodes approach has a number of advantages:

  • Increased cost efficiency by allowing for better utilization of NVMe SSDs and more powerful (and more expensive) CPUs alike
  • A reduction to required data center floorspace (which is at a premium), driving down additional costs associated with things such as networking ports, socket-based software licensing, power, and cooling
  • Improved simplicity as IT staff can spend less time on day-to-day management tasks and more time on strategic, revenue-facing initiatives

Conclusion

During the migration to hybrid cloud architecture, obtaining high bandwidth and low latency alongside high density is needed to meet modern application requirements – while also keeping budgets in check. This is not possible without hardware that has been thoughtfully optimized. Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI solution provides an effective starting point for the journey to the hybrid cloud, and Axellio has invested to provide a platform foundation that makes this infrastructure as cost-effective as possible, without compromising on capacity or performance.

Watch Storage Switzerland’s on demand webinar with Axellio, “Simplifying the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud with Azure Stack HCI,” to learn more.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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