Q: What is HC3 and why do customers choose it?
A: HC3 is a software virtualization platform that runs on certified hardware configurations and is delivered as an appliance. HC3 combines servers, storage, virtualization, and backup/disaster recovery into a single appliance. This convergence of technologies radically simplifies IT infrastructure making it easier to implement and manage, and significantly reduces the total cost of infrastructure ownership. The HC3 software virtualization platform approach allows seamless, non-disruptive infrastructure scale out and automated, non-disruptive software and firmware updates. HC3 is ideal for small, medium, and distributed enterprises for both datacenter computing and edge computing. Our customers choose HC3 to reduce complexity and cost from IT infrastructure so they can focus their resources on improving applications and processes rather than managing and maintaining complex infrastructure.
Q: Who is Scale Computing?
A: Scale Computing is the industry-leading software virtualization platform for edge computing environments covering global industries including retail, manufacturing, financial services, government, and more. Highly rated and reviewed by happy customers in Gartner Peer Insights, Spiceworks, TechValidate and TrustRadius, we are headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana with our primary development location in San Francisco. The Scale Computing mission has always been to challenge the traditional IT infrastructure status quo and provide an alternative to complex and costly solutions. Scale Computing provides storage architecture innovation, hyperconverged infrastructure, and cloud-based disaster recovery. Scale Computing technology delivers highly available, scalable, reliable, and simple to use compute systems accessible for any size organization. We are growing quickly with the support of our customers and partners.
Q: Does HC3 run VMware?
A: HC3 was designed as an alternative to VMware to deliver a simpler, more efficient, and most importantly, more cost-effective solution than VMware. HC3 uses our own HyperCore operating system and KVM-based hypervisor which does not require any
additional licensing costs. Many of our customers choose HC3 to move away from using VMware.
Q: How does HC3 stack up against other infrastructure solutions?
A: HC3 is by far the easiest to manage of all the HCI solutions in market. Taking into account the ease of implementation, the unified web-based management, the self-healing automation, the automatic storage pooling, the non-disruptive updates, and the seamless scale-out, HC3 has the most efficient architectural design for ease of use and management. Unlike other solutions that use SAN and virtual SAN storage architectures, HC3 uses hypervisor-embedded storage which is easy to use and eliminates the extra layers of storage protocols and file systems that exist in other architectures. All of that ease of use and efficiency in HC3 adds up to a lower cost of ownership. This makes HC3 the popular choice for organizations that want to reduce IT costs.
Q: Do I need or can I use a separate storage appliance (SAN/NAS) with HC3?
A: You don’t need to use external storage appliances with HC3, but you can use them. HC3 has storage built into each appliance so it is unlikely to require any external storage appliances. How much storage is based on the appliance models, the number of appliances and how they are configured and our HC5250D appliance models can be configured with up to 95TB of raw storage each. Users who have existing storage appliances that they want to continue using with HC3 have done so either as storage for individual VMs or as storage for backup/DR.
Q: How many HC3 appliances do I need?
A: There are a number of different HC3 models featuring different configuration options and resource capacities. Our users generally use a cluster of 3 or more appliances for VM high availability for primary production. Some users deploy single appliances for DR sites or for remote offices or branch offices. The number of HC3 appliances you need will be determined by the size and configuration of the appliance models you choose and how you need to support backup/DR and remote/branch offices.
Q: How much rack space do I need for my HC3 appliances.
A: HC3 appliances vary in size between 1U and 2U sizes. Even with a battery backup and network switches, your HC3 systems should only fill a fraction of your existing server rack space. Scale Computing sales engineers have experience and expertise in recommending cluster and appliance sizes for any environment.
Q: How can I convert my existing workloads to run on HC3?
A: There are several options for converting existing workloads to run on HC3. For Windows and Linux VMs, Scale has partnered with Carbonite to offer HC3 Move which can be used to migrate physical (P2V) and virtual (V2V) workloads onto HC3. It requires near-zero downtime and gives the user ultimate control of deciding when to cut over from their source machine onto the HC3 platform.
In addition to HC3 Move, any backup solution that supports full system bare metal recovery can be used to transfer workloads onto HC3. In some cases, virtual machine formats like VMDK can be directly imported to HC3 from other hypervisors.
For those users who would like assistance in the migration, Scale also offers services that can do everything from showing end users how to use the HC3 Move tool while performing a single migration to performing the entire migration in a full services engagement.
Q: Can I scale storage separately from other resources?
A: HC3 is designed to allow for efficient scale-out by easily adding new appliances to existing HC3 clusters. Each appliance must have both CPU and RAM to operate so there is no pure storage appliance, but customers have multiple options in configuring HC3 systems for build-to-order. A customer can configure a new appliance for maximum storage capacity and minimum CPU and RAM. This will add significantly more storage to the cluster while still providing the necessary CPU and RAM to make that appliance a functioning member of the cluster.
Conversely, an HC3 node can be configured with maximum CPU and RAM and minimum storage capacity if a cluster has a priority for compute resources over storage. With the ability to mix and match HC3 appliances across our entire HC3 family, customers have many options for both building the initial system and scaling out an existing system. Often the request to scale-out storage separately from compute is driven by licensing of operating systems / applications in the cluster. For those customers, HC3 appliance nodes can be configured in a storage-only mode which will prevent the system from running VMs on the node; thus negating the need for licensing an application/operating system for that node in some cases.
Management and Features
Q: How do I backup my VMs on HC3?
A: There are several options available to HC3 users, including the native HC3 Data Protection Suite of capabilities. HC3 features a full set of native features to allow users to backup, replicate, failover, restore, and recover virtual machines. Snapshot-based, incremental backups can be performed between HC3 systems without any additional software or licensing. Many HC3 users implement a second HC3 cluster or a single node to serve as a backup location or failover site. The backup location can be a second HC3 system that is onsite or remote. The backup location can be used just to store backups or to fail them over if the primary HC3 system fails. HC3 VM backups can be restored to the primary HC3 system sending only the data that is different.
Backup scheduling and retention can be configured granularly for each VM to meet SLAs. For quick file recoveries, HC3 provides file-level recovery from local or replicated snapshot backups that can be mounted quickly to live VMs. Scale Computing also offers the HC3 Cloud Unity as a cloud-based backup for HC3 systems supporting all of the native HC3 features.
For users who lack a secondary backup site, Cloud Unity acts as a backup site for any VMs that need protection. VMs can be recovered instantly in the cloud to run in production until they can be restored back to the primary site. HC3 Cloud Unity also includes a runbook to assist in DR planning and execution from implementation to recovery. ScaleCare engineers assist with planning, implementation, DR testing, and recovery as part of the Cloud Unity service.
HC3 VMs can also be backed up using virtually any third-party backup software that supports your guest operating system and applications. If you are migrating an existing physical machine to a VM, you likely don’t need to change your backup at all. Backup solutions, including Veeam, that include backup agents can be used with the guest operating system allowing them to be backed up over the network to a backup server or other location depending on the solution.
Some HC3 users choose to use HC3 native export features to export VM snapshots or backups to store on third party backup servers or storage. This extra backup method can be useful for long-term storage of VM backups. These exported backups can be imported into any other HC3 system for recovery. This is a great way to make use of existing storage investment like a NAS device or storage heavy server that can be repurposed as a backup target.
Q: Can I run virtual desktops (VDI) on HC3?
A: Yes. Desktops run as just another VM on HC3. HC3 is not a native VDI solution, meaning there is no VDI specific software or architecture built into HC3, but HC3 can serve as the virtual infrastructure for a number of VDI solutions. HC3 users can choose from a variety of 3rd parties to run on HC3 including VDI solutions from Leostream, Parallels, and Citrix. Leostream and Parallels have both integrated HC3 as a supported hypervisor OS and HC3 is certified Citrix Ready. Many HC3 customers choose to use Windows Remote Desktop Session Host (aka Terminal Services) to provide users access to a managed, server-based desktop running on HC3 to a variety of devices and clients. Alternately, other desktop management tools such as System Center Configuration Manager, XenApp, and others can be used on HC3 to provide desktop management tools and streaming capabilities to provide some of the same benefits associated with VDI.
Q: What are the networking requirements for HC3?
A: HC3 appliances require either 10GBase-T or 10GbE SFP+ networking, depending on the configuration and storage. When clustered, HC3 appliances use ethernet for storage across cluster nodes. This storage networking is handled on a private network layer and 10Gbe switching is recommended when flash storage is included. In limited cases, 1GbE networking can be used with RJ45 adapters.
Switches are not included with HC3 systems, although supported switches are available for resale through Scale Computing and Scale Computing partners. Users may use existing switches or provide other switches that meet the requirements outlined in the Networking Guidelines and Recommendations.
Q: What happens to my VMs if a drive or a cluster node fails?
A: An HC3 cluster consisting of three or more nodes is both resilient and highly available. A drive failure on a cluster will not cause any disruption and VMs will continue to run normally, even when the drive is replaced. If an entire HC3 cluster node (appliance) fails, VMs that were running on that appliance will be restarted automatically on other cluster nodes. When planning an HC3 cluster, it is important to anticipate the required resource capacity to allow VMs to failover from a failed node as a precaution. On a single node appliance configuration, like on a cluster, a drive failure does not affect running VMs. If the entire appliance fails in a single node configuration, there are no clustered nodes to failover VMs to, but VMs can be failed over to the HC3 replication target system.
Q: Does HC3 require a management solution like vCenter or System Center?
A: Not at all. HC3 has web-based management built into each appliance. You can begin managing your HC3 system without any additional software or servers. Just connect to any one of your appliances and you’ll be able to use to HC3 Web Interface to manage that system as well as remote HC3 clusters and single appliances.