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Trusted Business Advisors, Expert Technology Analysts

Research Areas

Data Center Systems

Includes HyperConverged, Converged, Disaggregated, and Legacy Infrastructure.

This category focuses on modern, on-premises infrastructure-based architectural approaches at the datacenter level. All aspects of the necessary infrastructure are included such as network, compute and storage. Taneja Group treats these systems as a complete solution for a particular workload whether it be general-purpose IaaS or vertical solutions targeted at specific use cases such as workload consolidation or applications such as SAP. We regularly compare and contrast the various architectural approaches that IT buyers are considering, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss which approaches are likely to work best for specific workloads and use cases. We are always looking for shifts in industry thinking or technology adoption that might lead to an evolution of existing data center architectures, and engage with startup and large vendors alike to understand and characterize newly emerging approaches. Where possible, our reports and opinions are backed by primary research, including direct conversations with different classes of IT decision makers and influencers.

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Report

The Hyperconverged Data Center: Nutanix Customers Explain Why They Replaced Their EMC SANS

Taneja Group spoke with several Nutanix customers in order to understand why they switched from EMC storage to the Nutanix platform. All of the respondent’s articulated key architectural benefits of hyperconvergence versus a traditional 3-tier solutions. In addition, specific Nutanix features for mission-critical production environments were often cited.

Hyperconverged systems have become a mainstream alternative to traditional 3-tier architecture consisting of separate compute, storage and networking products. Nutanix collapses this complex environment into software-based infrastructure optimized for virtual environments. Hypervisor, compute, storage, networking, and data services run on scalable nodes that seamlessly scale across massive virtual assets. Hyperconvergence offers a key value proposition over 3-tier architecture:  instead of deploying, managing and integrating separate components – storage, servers, networking, data services, and hypervisors – these components are combined into a modular high performance system.

The customers we interviewed operate in very different industries. In common, they all maintained data centers undergoing fundamental changes, typically involving an opportunity to refresh some portion of their 3-tier infrastructure. This enabled the evaluation of hyperconvergence in supporting those changes. Customers interviewed found that Nutanix hyperconvergence delivered benefits in the areas of scalability, simplicity, value, performance, and support. If we could use one phrase to explain why Nutanix’ is winning over EMC customers in the enterprise market it would be “Ease of Everything.” Nutanix works, and works consistently with small and large clusters, in single and multiple datacenters, with specialist or generalist IT support, and across hypervisors.

The five generations of Nutanix products span many years of product innovation. Web-scale architecture has been the key to Nutanix platform’s enterprise capable performance, simplicity and scalability. Building technology like this requires years of innovation and focus and is not an add-on for existing products and architectures.

The modern data center is quickly changing. Extreme data growth and complexity are driving data center directors toward innovative technology that will grow with them. Given the benefits of Nutanix web-scale architecture – and the Ease of Everything – data center directors can confidently adopt Nutanix as their partner in data center transformation just as the following EMC customers did.

Publish date: 03/31/16
Profile

Cohesity Data Platform: Hyperconverged Secondary Storage

Primary storage is often defined as storage hosting mission-critical applications with tight SLAs, requiring high performance.  Secondary storage is where everything else typically ends up and, unfortunately, data stored there tends to accumulate without much oversight.  Most of the improvements within the overall storage space, most recently driven by the move to hyperconverged infrastructure, have flowed into primary storage.  By shifting the focus from individual hardware components to commoditized, clustered and virtualized storage, hyperconvergence has provided a highly-available virtual platform to run applications on, which has allowed IT to shift their focus from managing individual hardware components and onto running business applications, increasing productivity and reducing costs. 

Companies adopting this new class of products certainly enjoyed the benefits, but were still nagged by a set of problems that it didn’t address in a complete fashion.  On the secondary storage side of things, they were still left dealing with too many separate use cases with their own point solutions.  This led to too many products to manage, too much duplication and too much waste.  In truth, many hyperconvergence vendors have done a reasonable job at addressing primary storage use cases, , on their platforms, but there’s still more to be done there and more secondary storage use cases to address.

Now, however, a new category of storage has emerged. Hyperconverged Secondary Storage brings the same sort of distributed, scale-out file system to secondary storage that hyperconvergence brought to primary storage.  But, given the disparate use cases that are embedded in secondary storage and the massive amount of data that resides there, it’s an equally big problem to solve and it had to go further than just abstracting and scaling the underlying physical storage devices.  True Hyperconverged Secondary Storage also integrates the key secondary storage workflows - Data Protection, DR, Analytics and Test/Dev - as well as providing global deduplication for overall file storage efficiency, file indexing and searching services for more efficient storage management and hooks into the cloud for efficient archiving. 

Cohesity has taken this challenge head-on.

Before delving into the Cohesity Data Platform, the subject of this profile and one of the pioneering offerings in this new category, we’ll take a quick look at the state of secondary storage today and note how current products haven’t completely addressed these existing secondary storage problems, creating an opening for new competitors to step in.

Publish date: 03/30/16
Report

Transforming the Data Center: SimpliVity Delivers Hyperconverged Platform with Native DP

Hyperconvergence has come a long way in the past five years. Growth rates are astronomical and customers are replacing traditional three-layer configurations with hyperconverged solutions at record numbers. But not all hyperconverged solutions in the market are alike. As the market matures, this fact is coming to light. Of course, all hyperconverged solutions tightly integrate compute and storage (that is par for the course) but beyond that similarities end quickly.

One of the striking differences between SimpliVity’s hyperconverged infrastructure architecture and others is the tight integration of data protection functionality. The DNA for that is built in from the very start: SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure systems perform inline deduplication and compression of data at the time of data creation. Thereafter, data is kept in the “reduced” state throughout its lifecycle. This has serious positive implications on latency, performance, and bandwidth but equally importantly, it transforms data protection and other secondary uses of data. 

At Taneja Group, we have been very aware of this differentiating feature of SimpliVity’s solution. So when we were asked to interview five SimpliVity customers to determine if they were getting tangible benefits (or not), we jumped at the opportunity.

This Field Report is about their experiences. We must state at the beginning that we focused primarily on their data protection experiences in this report. Hyperconvergence is all about simplicity and cost reduction. But SimpliVity’s hyperconverged infrastructure also eliminated another big headache: data protection. These customers may not have bought SimpliVity for data protection purposes, but the fact that they were essentially able to get rid of all their other data protection products was a very pleasant surprise for them. That was a big plus for these customers. To be sure, data protection is not simply backup and restore but also includes a number of other functions such as replication, DR, WAN optimization, and more. 

For a broader understanding of SimpliVity’s product capabilities, other Taneja Group write-ups are available. This one focuses on data protection. Read on for these five customers’ experiences.

Publish date: 02/01/16
Report

Nutanix Versus VCE: Web-Scale Versus Converged Infrastructure in the Real World

This Field Report was created by Taneja Group for Nutanix in late 2014 with updates in 2015. The Taneja Group analyzed the experiences of seven Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform customers and seven Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) Vblock customers. We did not ‘cherry-pick’ customers for dissatisfaction, delight, or specific use case; we were interested in typical customers’ honest reactions.

As we talked in detail to these customers, we kept seeing the same patterns: 1) VCE users were interested in converged systems; and 2) they chose VCE because VCE partners Cisco, EMC, and/or VMware were embedded in their IT relationships and sales. The VCE process had the advantage of vendor familiarity, but it came at a price: high capital expense, infrastructure and management complexity, expensive support contracts, and concerns over the long-term viability of the VCE partnership (see an opinion of the DELL/EMC merger at end of this document). VCE customers typically did not research other options for converged infrastructure prior to deploying the VCE Vblock solution.

In contrast, Nutanix users researched several convergence and hyperconvergence vendors to determine the best possible fit. Nutanix’ advanced web-scale framework gave them simplified architecture and management, reasonable acquisition and operating costs, and considerably faster time to value.

Our conclusion, based on the amount of time and effort spent by the teams responsible for managing converged infrastructure, is that VCE Vblock deployments represent an improvement over traditional architectures, but Nutanix hyperconvergence – especially with its web-scale architecture – is an big improvement over VCE.

This Field Report will compare customer experiences with Nutanix hyperconverged, web-scale infrastructure to VCE Vblock in real-world environments. 

Publish date: 01/14/16
Report

Edge HyperConvergence for Robo’s: Riverbed SteelFusion Brings IT All Together

Hyperconvergence is one of the hottest IT trends going in to 2016. In a recent Taneja Group survey of senior enterprise IT folks we found that over 25% of organizations are looking to adopt hyperconvergence as their primary data center architecture. Yet the centralized enterprise datacenter may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vast opportunity for hyperconverged solutions. Where there are remote or branch office (ROBO) requirements demanding localized computing, some form of hyperconvergence would seem the ideal way to address the scale, distribution, protection and remote management challenges involved in putting IT infrastructure “out there” remotely and in large numbers.

However, most of today’s popular hyperconverged appliances were designed as data center infrastructure, converging data center IT resources like servers, storage, virtualization and networking into Lego™ like IT building blocks.  While these at first might seem ideal for ROBOs – the promise of dropping in “whole” modular appliances precludes any number of onsite integration and maintenance challenges, ROBOs have different and often more challenging requirements than a datacenter. A ROBO does not often come with trained IT staff or a protected datacenter environment. They are, by definition, located remotely across relatively unreliable networks. And they fan out to the thousands (or tens of thousands) of locations.

Certainly any amount of convergence simplifies infrastructure making easier to deploy and maintain. But in general popular hyperconvergence appliances haven’t been designed to be remotely managed en masse, don’t address unreliable networks, and converge storage locally and directly within themselves. Persisting data in the ROBO is a recipe leading to a myriad of ROBO data protection issues. In ROBO scenarios, the datacenter form of hyperconvergence is not significantly better than simple converged infrastructure (e.g. pre-configured rack or blades in a box).

Riverbed’s SteelFusion we feel has brought full hyperconvergence benefits to the ROBO edge of the organization. They’ve married their world-class WANO technologies, virtualization, and remote storage “projection” to create what we might call “Edge Hyperconvergence”. We see the edge hyperconverged SteelFusion as purposely designed for companies with any number of ROBO’s that each require local IT processing.

Publish date: 12/17/15
Profile

HyperConverged Infrastructure Powered by Pivot3: Benefits of a More Efficient HCI Architecture

Virtualization has matured and become widely adopted in the enterprise market. HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI), with virtualization at its core, is taking the market by storm, enabling virtualization for businesses of all sizes. The success of these technologies has been driven by an insatiable desire to make IT simpler, faster, and more efficient. IT can no longer afford the time and effort required to create custom infrastructure from best-of-breed DIY components.

With HCI, the traditional three-tier architecture has been collapsed into a single system that is purpose-built for virtualization. In these solutions, the hypervisor, compute, storage, and advanced data services are integrated into an x86 industry-standard building block. The immense success of this approach has led to increased competition in this space and the customers are required to sort through the various offerings, analyzing key attributes to determine which are significant.

One of these competing vendors, Pivot3, was founded in 2002 and has been in the HCI market since 2008, well before the term HyperConverged was used. For many years, Pivot3’s vSTAC architecture has provided the most efficient scale-out Software-Defined Storage (SDS) system available on the market. This efficiency is attributed to three design innovations. The first is their extremely efficient and reliable erasure coding technology called Scalar Erasure Coding. Conversely, many leading HCI implementations use replication-based redundancy techniques which are heavy on storage capacity utilization. Scalar Erasure Coding from Pivot3 can deliver significant capacity savings depending on the level of drive protection selected. The second innovation is Pivot3’s Global Hyperconvergence which creates a cross-cluster virtual SAN, the HyperSAN: in case of appliance failure, a VM migrates to another node and continues operations without the need to divert compute power to copy data over to that node. The third innovation has been a reduction in CPU overhead needed to implement the SDS features and other VM centric management tasks. Implementation of the HCI software uses the same CPU complex as business applications, this additional usage is referred to as the HCI overhead tax. HCI overhead tax is important since the licensing cost for many applications and infrastructure software are based on a per CPU basis. Even with today’s ever- increasing cores per CPU there still can be significant cost saving by keeping the HCI overhead tax low.

The Pivot3 family of HCI products delivering high data efficiency with a very low overhead are an ideal solution for storage-centric business workload environments where storage costs and reliability are critical success factors. One example of this is a VDI implementation where cost per seat determines success. Other examples would be capacity-centric workloads such as big data or video surveillance that could benefit from a Pivot3 HCI approach with leading storage capacity and reliability. In this paper we compare Pivot3 with other leading HCI architectures. We utilized data extracted from the alternative HCI vendor’s reference architectures for VDI implementations. Using real world examples, we have demonstrated that with other solutions, users must purchase up to 136% more raw storage capacity and up to 59% more total CPU cores than are required when using equivalent Pivot3 products. These impressive results can lead to significant costs savings. 

Publish date: 12/10/15
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