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Hyper-Convergence and the HPE HC 250 — An Interview with Nigel Barnes (Part 1/2)

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on June 3, 2016

IT organizations of all sizes are looking to save time and money while delivering the right computing resources quickly and securely.

Hyper-Convergence makes this possible.

We sat down with Softchoice’s HPE Technical Architect, Nigel Barnes, to discuss the benefits of hyper-convergence and the HPE Hyper-Converged (HC) 250.

Q: Nigel, before we get into how your customers are leveraging hyper-convergence and what HPE has to offer, can you start out by telling us a little bit about what hyper-convergence is?

A: Sure. It’s a pretty simple concept, but to fully understand the benefits of hyper-convergence, we need to take a quick look at a traditional data center issue. Historically, data center managers acquired resources such as servers, networking, and storage from different vendors. This led to challenges such as compatibility issues between components. Additionally, IT departments lacked the flexibility and agility to respond to new opportunities or address capacity issues quickly because it wasn’t fast or easy to allocate resources.

Hyper-convergence addresses these issues by combining compute, storage, network, and other resources into one package from one vendor. So, this gives the IT manager some pretty significant benefits such as a smaller footprint, less hardware to maintain, one vendor support, and most importantly, making it easier to provision resources. Of course, the HPE HC 250 that we’re talking about today offers additional benefits above and beyond that baseline.

Q: I know we’ll talk about more detailed examples, but give us a high-level look at what types of businesses might need that level of agility.

A: It’s not so much the size of the organization as it is the type of organization. Let’s say, for example, you’re running a manufacturing operation in a pretty static environment. Your capacity demands are probably pretty predictable. You may not even need a cloud environment.

On the other hand, take an omnichannel retailer with a highly seasonal business. Capacity requirements are less predictable. They may have some idea of when sales are going to start ticking up, but they don’t know how much network traffic they will need to accommodate or what their data storage requirements will be. Plus, in the off-season, their resource needs drop significantly, and they end up paying for capacity they aren’t using.

Software developers are another common example. As they are developing and testing new applications, they may need to provision additional resources. But, once the application is rolled out, those resources are no longer needed.

Q: Great. Let’s get into more of the specifics of what HPE has to offer. You want to talk to us specifically about the HPE HC 250, right?

A: Right. The HPE HC 250 is a 2 to 4 node 2U system, and you can have up to 4 of these HC 250s managed under a single domain. There are a couple of things that makes this solution stand out.

First, when it comes to hyper-converged solutions, hardware is becoming almost a secondary consideration. It’s really the software that makes the difference because that’s what allows for the ease of deployment and maintenance. The HC 250 has a shopping cart-style management interface that allows you to provision resources very quickly. It’s built on software-defined storage, which is their store virtual technology, and it’s integrated with Hyper-V or VMWare.

Q: As I understand it, the HC 250 makes provisioning cloud resources easy because it comes with Azure pack, but it can also be used as an on-premise only solution, right?

A: Exactly. The HPE interface makes it easy to deploy resources and provides a consistent management experience whether they are looking at on-prem, within Azure itself or even in a hosted environment from a 3rd party.

And, to clarify a bit on the Azure side, I think Microsoft would prefer a Hyper-V environment integrating with Azure, but that’s not an absolute prerequisite. Microsoft also hosts VMWare VMs in Azure as well. That’s good news for the customer because it gives them a choice.

Q: Beside the user interface, is there anything else that makes the HC 250 stand out?

A: The UI is the biggest differentiator, and it is applicable pretty much regardless of which solution the HPE is being compared to; however, there are other differences that sometimes come into play. For example, the HC 250 allows customers to start with a 2-node cluster, whereas some solutions require a 3-node starting point.

Q: That makes it a little more appropriate for a medium-sized business.

A: Right. That’s the sweet spot for the HC 250. It can be appropriate for an enterprise, too, but HPE has other solutions for larger organizations that the customer might want to consider.

In part two if this interview, we’ll ask Nigel for his perspectives on how the HC 250 helps organizations deal with two pressing issues: disaster recovery and business continuity. If you have questions about hyper-convergence or the HC 250, reach out to Nigel at or use the comment box below.

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