Certainty Trumps End of Life for Technology Deployments in Edge Locations

Affordability, ease of deployment, and power and space constraints factor into product deployments at edge locations. However, some intangibles factor in more strongly with these types of deployments. Among them, organizations need certainty that they have deployed a highly available and reliable solution the provider will support.

The Criticality of the Edge

Edge locations have become more critical than ever to organizational operations. These sites host more applications and capture more data than ever. These needs influence the choice of a solution deployed into them.
Deployments into dozens, hundreds, or thousands of edge sites incurs onerous amounts of cost, time, and labor. Once deployed, organizations will minimally use and support the solution for up to three years, perhaps longer. They also want a highly available and reliable solution with modification, upgrade, and scaling options. Further, they want to avoid prematurely replacing it.
These reasons explain why organizations often consider the StorMagic SvSAN and Dell PowerEdge VRTX solutions for these sites. Both these two solutions excel at checking the feature boxes specific to edge locations. However, uncertainty recently entered the equation for one of these solutions.

Minimizing Uncertainty at the Edge

Anyone looking at the Dell PowerEdge VRTX’s stability might conclude that all is well. The VTRX website is up and operational.[1] One may access and download VRTX documentation with Dell making updates to the VRTX‘s technical specifications in April 2021.
However, a blog post that appeared on the Blades Made Simple website cast doubt on VRTX’s future. The post shared that Dell extended the life of the VRTX to the end of 2022. This implies the VRTX was already previously end-of-life (EOL), and its end was simply delayed. Written by a Dell Principal Engineer and Chief Technical Server Architect gave credence to the post’s validity.
To confirm its accuracy, DCIG contacted Dell’s online partner support. In a chat session of which DCIG has a transcript, a Dell support representative confirmed VRTX’s EOL.
Every organization treats product EOL announcements differently. However, when considering solutions deployed in edge locations, organizations should not dismiss EOL announcements. Few organizations knowingly or willingly deploy EOL solutions into their remote sites.
They may only accept an EOL solution if they cannot identify a viable alternative. This merits an examination of how well the StorMagic SvSAN stacks up against the Dell PowerEdge VRTX.

How StorMagic SvSAN Stacks Up

Both the StorMagic SvSAN and Dell PowerEdge VRTX focus on delivering solutions for edge locations. However, the underlying technologies they use differ notably.
The StorMagic SvSAN utilizes a hyperconverged architecture that delivers servers, networking, and storage as one solution. This architecture simplifies deployments and scaling. It scales capacity by introducing more compute, storage, or both into the server.  Organizations may also add more servers into the cluster at each remote site.
Organizations may obtain SvSAN as an all-in-one, preconfigured solution. Unlike the VRTX solution, they may obtain SvSAN from multiple different hardware partners, such as HPE, Lenovo, Cisco, and Dell. SvSAN also ships as a software-only solution that they may deploy on server hardware they already own or may acquire.
Like the VRTX, SvSAN also supports VMware vSphere. This gives organizations access to VMware vSphere’s multiple features whether they use SvSAN or VRTX to host it. However, only SvSAN hosts other hypervisors such as Linux open source KVM or Microsoft Hyper-V.
These options minimally put SvSAN on equal footing with VRTX. Couple the flexibility SvSAN offers with StorMagic’s commitment to SvSAN and one can argue for SvSAN’s superiority. However, SvSAN’s biggest differentiator shows up in how it delivers high availability (HA).

The HA Differentiator

Remote sites want the same levels of HA that data centers possess. In this respect, SvSAN outshines the VRTX. It provides HA for one SvSAN cluster and up to 1,000.

SvSAN How It Works 2021 09 09 0935
Source: StorMagic

To deliver HA at this scale, the StorMagic SvSAN takes two steps.

  • First, it minimally deploys two physical servers in a remote site.
  • Second, it uses a virtual machine (VM) running in another location to function as a Witness Host for up to 1000 SvSAN clusters.

The Witness Host plays a critical role in delivering HA. Occasionally two servers that operate in a single cluster lose communication with one another creating a split-brain scenario. In this situation, both servers try to assume processing thinking the other has failed. This can corrupt data and lead to outages.
The SvSAN’s use of a third VM that acts as a Witness Host resolves these rare but catastrophic events. In so doing, SvSAN affordably makes HA available for edge locations. The SvSAN Witness supports from 1 to 1,000 remote clusters using a single Witness.

StorMagic SvSAN’s Certainty Trumps EOL

Organizations prize affordability, ease, and efficiency in the solutions they deploy and support remotely. However, they often prioritize the solution’s short- and long-term availability and reliability above these others.
StorMagic plans to keep SvSAN around for a long time. This provides the certainty organizations need when deploying solutions in their edge locations. In so doing, SvSAN offers them years of life, not a year or less.
Yet perhaps more importantly, the StorMagic SvSAN meets or exceeds the technical requirements that remote sites possess. It runs on multiple hardware platforms, supports multiple different hypervisors, and delivers HA in a simple, flexible, and cost-effective manner. This combination of factors alone justifies SvSAN’s use in remote sites.
Dell’s announcement of the VRTX’s EOL only seems to reinforce any decision to choose SvSAN for edge locations. After all, who wants an EOL solution in these sites when a clear, certain, and easy alternative presents itself?
This blog entry is excerpted from a larger report that DCIG prepared for StorMagic. To access and read the full report, you may follow this link to StorMagic’s site to register for and download the report.

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Editor’s Note: StorMagic is a client of DCIG.

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