HCI – The Set Up (Part 2)

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By David Horth

As we touched on in the previous blog post, we are moving towards a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) in our datacentres. The winning combination for use was Lenovo HX which runs Nutanix.

infrastructure HCI

So what does this HCI solution physically look like?

It look like any other server really.

That’s the beauty.

Its designed to use existing servers and infrastructure just in a new way. This means the hardware can be sourced from existing models and no major re-tooling or re-designing is required.

The hardware is evaluated and certified by Nutanix to ensure it complies with their requirements but once that is done, its just another commodity item. This also makes the job of upgrading the infrastructure much easier, in fact all you have to do is add in more certified nodes!

It also means there are several configurations. You can have compute/storage nodes, where these are the most common, or compute nodes and storage nodes or any other combination. The flexibility SDI/HCI provides means you can build the cluster you require for the workload.

We then started the process of sizing our new environment. Information was gathered from all our platforms and put together into something that made somewhat sense to us. We then worked closely with Lenovo Data Center Group and Nutanix here in Perth, to come up with a configuration that gave us plenty of growth.

In this configuration we ended up with two clusters, a small three node one in Melbourne and a nine node one in Perth. Both of these clusters are running solid state storage. The price/performance barrier has lowered so much over the last couple of years, that it made no sense to keep the old spinning rust model.

Each of these servers is 1RU, so we needed 9RU in Perth and 3RU in Melbourne. Hang on… did we just save a whole load of rack space? Yes.

Order placed.

Much gnashing of teeth.

OK, there must be a trade off right? No, not really. Yes we needed decent networking but we would need that with any solution. Luckily we already had purchased new core switches so it wasn’t much of a stretch to use them in conjunction with Nutanix, so we forged ahead and re-configured our core in the data center.

Equipment arrived.

Fun begins.

OK, so what are we going to install as an OS? At the moment we run VMware and Hyper-V but Nutanix has another option – AHV. What is that you ask? Good question and one we needed to answer.

AHV or Acropolis Hyper Visor, is a hypervisor based on Linux’s KVM. Nutanix has built on KVM to create a free and powerful hypervisor that works hand in had with the rest of their Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform to deliver powerful scalability, simplicity and performance. But is it any good? We tested it.

It is.

So now a choice and what do we do next?

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog series which is anticipated to be released at the end of February 2020.

Get updated


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