The short answer to the question “Are all hyperconvergence solutions created equal?” is no. But I’d like to use this post, the first in a series of three, to answer the question in a little more depth.
Because the term hyperconvergence is still relatively new, and aspects of its definition continue to evolve*, I can see why people might assume that hyperconvergence solutions now on the market are simply variations on a theme.
Hyperconvergence solutions do share the same underlying principle, which is to build IT data centers entirely with servers as the building block. They also share the value of enabling IT departments to build an efficient, resilient, flexible and scalable compute and storage infrastructure at a dramatically lower TCO compared to traditional IT infrastructures.
Appliance-based or software-only?
Hyperconvergence solutions start to differentiate when vendors decide how to deliver the core functionality – the consolidation of compute and storage resources into a single clustered pool of resources.
Currently, most hyperconvergence vendors have adopted an appliance-based approach, essentially selling white box servers with their hyperconvergence functionality (as software) already installed. This approach makes more sense for the vendor than it does for the customer.
It shortchanges customers in two ways. First, it prevents them from using servers from vendors of their choice. Second, it can add significantly to the cost of the overall solution as appliance-centric vendors try to maintain margin levels and charge a high premium for standard hardware, while delivering no extra value.
Springpath delivers hyperconvergence as a software-only solution. Our software, Springpath Data Platform, runs on x86 servers that customers purchase directly from their preferred vendors. As a further cost-saving strategy, our software-only solution is matched with subscription-based pricing so you pay only for the nodes that you need now.
We believe the software-only approach – a key differentiator between Springpath and other hyperconvergence vendors – delivers more of the potential of hyperconvergence than appliance-based solutions. With Springpath, companies gain full control and security of their data, while building far more economical model than a public cloud environment.
In part two, I’ll discuss the difference made by the hyperconvergence solution’s underlying file system.
* Today there is a hard tie-in to virtualization and various hypervisors, and more recently there is an attachment to emerging solutions like containers.