Q: What is Scale Computing Platform, and why do customers choose it?
A: Scale Computing Platform combines everything you need: virtualization, compute, storage, and backup/disaster recovery with powerful fleet management to deliver a single manageable solution at scale in the data center, in the branch office, and for distributed edge locations. 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 SC//Platform software virtualization approach allows seamless, non-disruptive infrastructure scale-out, and automated, non-disruptive software and firmware updates. Our customers choose SC//Platform to reduce the complexity and cost of 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 was founded to fulfill a need for organizations hindered by complexity, time, and resources that traditional virtualized IT environments demand. Our corporate mission is to establish a long-term, leading position in the hyperconverged infrastructure market.
Scale Computing Platform eliminates the need for traditional virtualization software, disaster recovery software, servers, and shared storage, replacing these with a fully integrated, highly available system for running applications. Using patented HyperCore™ technology, the self-healing platform automatically identifies, mitigates, and corrects problems in the infrastructure in real-time, enabling applications to achieve maximum uptime even when local IT resources and staff are scarce.
Q: Does SC//Platform run VMware?
A: SC//Platform was designed as an alternative to VMware to deliver a simpler, more efficient, and most importantly, more cost-effective solution than VMware. SC//Platform uses our own HyperCoreTM operating system and KVM-based hypervisor, which does not require any additional hypervisor licensing costs. Many of our customers choose SC//Platform to move away from using VMware.
Q: How does SC//Platform stack up against other infrastructure solutions?
A: SC//Platform is by far the easiest to manage of all the HCI solutions in the market. Taking into account the ease of implementation, unified web-based management, self-healing automation, automatic storage pooling, non-disruptive updates, and the seamless scale-out, SC//Platform has the most efficient architectural design for ease of use and management. Unlike other solutions that use SAN and virtual SAN storage architectures, SC//Platform 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 SC//Platform adds up to a lower cost of ownership. This makes SC//Platform the popular choice for organizations that want to reduce IT costs without cutting corners.
Q: Do I need or can I use a separate storage appliance (SAN/NAS) with SC//Platform?
A: You don’t need to use external storage appliances with SC//Platform, but you can use them. SC//Platform 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 appliance models can be configured with over 300 TB of raw storage each. Users who have existing storage appliances that they want to continue using with SC//Platform have done so either as storage for individual VMs or as storage for backup/DR.
Q: How many Scale Computing appliances do I need?
A: There are a number of different models featuring different configuration options and resource capacities. Our users generally use a cluster of three or more appliances for VM high availability for primary production. Some users deploy single appliances for DR sites or for remote or branch offices. The number of 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 Scale Computing appliances?
A: Scale Computing appliances vary in size between 1U and 2U sizes. Even with a battery backup and network switches, your SC//Hardware should only fill a fraction of your existing server rack space. Some of our HyperCore Edge appliances are designed to sit in a non-conventional space, such as a desktop or shelf. 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 Scale Computing HyperCore?
A: There are several options for converting existing workloads to run on SC//HyperCore. For Windows and Linux VMs, we have partnered with Carbonite to offer Scale Computing Move which can be used to migrate physical (P2V) and virtual (V2V) workloads onto SC//HyperCore. It requires near-zero downtime and gives the user ultimate control of deciding when to cut over from their source machine onto SC//HyperCore.
In addition to Scale Computing Move, any backup solution that supports full system bare metal recovery can be used to transfer workloads onto SC//HyperCore. In fact, third-party backup software like Acronis Cyber Protect can be used to migrate physical machines and virtual machines running on different hypervisors to HyperCore. In some cases, virtual machine formats like VMDK can be directly imported to SC//HyperCore 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 Scale Computing 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: SC//Platform is designed to allow for efficient scale-out by easily adding new appliances to existing SC//HyperCore clusters. Often, the request to scale out storage separately from compute is driven by licensing of operating systems/applications in the cluster. For those customers, storage-heavy SC//Hardware 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.
Conversely, an SC//HyperCore 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 appliances across our entire SC//Hardware family, customers have many options for both building the initial system and scaling out an existing system.
Management and Features
Q: How do I back up my VMs on Scale Computing HyperCore?
A: There are several options available to SC//HyperCore users, including the native HyperCore Data Protection Suite. SC//HyperCore offers a full set of native features to allow users to back up, replicate, failover, restore, and recover virtual machines. Snapshot-based, incremental backups can be performed between SC//HyperCore clusters without any additional software or licensing. Many SC//HyperCore users implement a second SC//HyperCore cluster or a single node to serve as a backup location or failover site. The backup location can be a second SC//HyperCore cluster that is onsite or remote and can be used to store backups or fail them over if the primary cluster fails. SC//HyperCore VM backups can be restored to the primary cluster, sending only differential data.
Backup scheduling and retention can be configured granularly for each VM to meet SLAs. For quick file recoveries, SC//HyperCore provides file-level recovery from local or replicated snapshot backups that can be mounted quickly to live VMs. Scale Computing also offers SC//Platform Cloud Unity as a cloud-based backup for SC//HyperCore clusters supporting all native SC//HyperCore features.
For users who lack a secondary backup site, SC//Platform Cloud Unity acts as a backup site for any VMs needing protection. VMs can be recovered instantly in the cloud to run in production until they can be restored back to the primary site. SC//Platform 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 SC//Platform Cloud Unity service.
SC//HyperCore 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.
For those customers that don’t want to manage in-guest backup agents for their third-party backup solution, SC//HyperCore has a hypervisor-level integration with Acronis and Storware. These two backup solutions allow a customer to seamlessly back up their SC//HyperCore workloads without the agent-based approach.
Some SC//Platform users choose to use SC//HyperCore 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 the long-term storage of VM backups. These exported backups can be imported into any other SC//HyperCore cluster for recovery. This is a great way to make use of existing storage investments like a NAS device or storage-heavy server that can be repurposed as a backup target.
Q: Can I run virtual desktops (VDI) on SC//HyperCore?
A: Yes. Desktops run as just another VM on SC//HyperCore. SC//HyperCore is not a native VDI solution, meaning there is no VDI-specific software or architecture built-in, but SC//HyperCore can serve as the virtual infrastructure for a number of VDI solutions. SC//HyperCore users can choose from a variety of third parties to run on SC//HyperCore including solutions from Leostream, Parallels, and Citrix. Leostream and Parallels have both integrated SC//HyperCore as a supported hypervisor OS. Many customers choose to use Windows Remote Desktop Session Host (aka Terminal Services) to provide users access to a managed, server-based desktop running on SC//HyperCore 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 SC//HyperCore 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 SC//Hardware?
A: Scale Computing appliances require 1GbE, 10GBase-T, 10GbE SFP+ or 25GbE networking, depending on the configuration and storage. When clustered, SC//Hardware uses Ethernet for storage across cluster nodes. This storage networking is handled on a private network layer.
Switches are not included with SC//Hardware, although supported switches are available for resale through Scale Computing and its partners. Users may use existing switches or provide other switches that meet the requirements outlined in the 'Networking: Getting Started with Scale Computing' guide.
Q: What happens to my VMs if a drive or a cluster node fails?
A: An SC//HyperCore cluster consisting of three or more nodes is both resilient and highly available. A drive failure on a cluster with multi-drive nodes will not cause any disruption and VMs will continue to run normally, even when the drive is replaced. If an entire SC//HyperCore cluster node fails, VMs that were running on that appliance will be restarted automatically on other cluster nodes. When planning an SC//HyperCore cluster, it is important to anticipate the required resource capacity to allow VMs to fail over from a failed node as a precaution. On a single node, multi-drive 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 SC//HyperCore replication target system.
Q: Does SC//Platform require a hosted management solution like vCenter or System Center?
A: No, SC//Platform’s web-based management is built into each appliance. You can begin running your SC//HyperCore clusters without any additional software or servers. Just connect to the LAN IP of any node, and you’ll be able to use the HyperCore UI to manage that system, as well as remote SC//HyperCore clusters and single appliances.
Scale Computing Fleet Manager is a cloud-hosted tool that consolidates real-time conditions for a fleet of clusters, including storage and compute resources, allowing IT leaders to quickly identify areas of concern using a single pane of glass to manage 1 - 50,000 clusters. This gives you the flexibility to scale globally without the up-front complexity of a vCenter or similar implementation.
Support and Maintenance
Q: Why is it important to renew Scale Computing Maintenance and Support Agreements?
A: Scale Computing Maintenance and Support is included in the subscription licenses and does not require a separate renewal. Maintenance and Support includes three vital elements: 24/7 phone and email support, SC//HyperCore software updates, and hardware replacement for our own SC//Hardware appliances.
Our expert ScaleCare Support Engineers are on-call 24/7 with help for any support issue. We believe support is as important as the solutions we provide. We know the whole system inside and out because we designed it, and that helps our engineers troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly.
Scale Computing provides vital updates to the SC//HyperCore OS and hypervisor for both security enhancements and new features and functionality. All updates and new software features and functionality are available at no extra cost to SC//HyperCore clusters under active Maintenance and Support Agreements.
Customers under active Maintenance and Support Agreements have access to hardware replacements that are shipped the next business day.
Q: What level of support is included with SC//Platform?
A: With SC//Platform, there is only one level of support for each and every customer: ScaleCare Support. Our premium ScaleCare Support includes 24/7 phone and email support provided by our expert support engineers out of our headquarters in Indianapolis. An active subscription of SC//HyperCore and SC//Fleet Manager includes all software and firmware updates with a separate hardware warranty covering hardware replacement. Providing the best support is an important part of SC//Platform and the Scale Computing mission.