Back in December at HP Discover EMEA, I had a chance to speak with several folks who walked me through the HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual solution and specifically how this solution streamlines deployment times and processes for a self-contained VMware environment.
The HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual consists of 4 identical nodes that resemble a blade, but without a full enclosure around the blade itself. The photo below shows one of the nodes outside of the chassis of the 200-HC StoreVirtual chassis. The 200-HC, both EVO:RAIL and StoreVirtual, are built on the HP ProLiant SL2500 model scalable computing hardware.
The software layer of the ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual is the HP flavor of VMware ESXi preinstalled for each node. The HP installation of ESXi includes some agents within the OS for monitoring hardware and providing that information into ESXi and vCenter. Each node is physically connected to 6 dedicated drives on the front of the chassis. For the all SAS model, all 6 are a single RAID set for the node and in the hybrid storage model, it features 2 x 400GB SSD drives and 4 x 1.2 TB SAS drives in two RAID sets.
When the system boots for the first time, the ESXi hosts start up along with a management VM located on node 1. An additional management port on node 1 provides access directly to the management VM to connect and configure the ConvergeSystem 200-HC for the first time. This node will present the user with the OneView InstantOn wizard that will allow the user to deploy the full ConvergeSystem 200-HC software stack in as little as 15 minutes. The wizard walks you through the initial setup of the 4 ESXi nodes, with IP addresses and other basic settings. InstantOn then deploys StoreVirtual VSA across the nodes, configures the storage in ESXi and connects it to the StoreVirtual VMs. Last but not least, the management VM moves into the new StoreVirtual VSA software defined storage and the system is ready to run.
The hardware configurations in the ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual are defined and not customizable. With the exception of the choice between all-SAS or SAS and SSD combined hybrid storage, there are no other configurable options for a 200-HC configuration. This lends its self nicely to a very smooth and repeatable deployment.
Like other HP ConvergedSystems, the defined and fully tested hardware and software configurations (aka recipe) ensures a well behaving and optimized operating environment for the workload. This is essentially the same hardware configuration as the EVO:Rail systems defined by VMware and manufactured by many vendors, including HP, but this HP solution is unique in its use of StoreVirtual instead of VMware’s VSAN. The HP folks I talked with think this is an advantage for several reasons, including a more mature storage software base in StoreVirtual compared to VSAN, the ability to replicate data between an HP ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual and any other StoreVirtual based solution (both VSA and hardware solutions), and because of the StoreVirtual VSA price. The list storage license cost of StoreVirtual VSA is around $3,000 per node, which is about one third of the cost of a VMware’s VSAN license, while all of the components are apples for apples.