It's great to have complex buying decisions validated. I'm in the process of building out a new private cloud infrastructure, one designed to support both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware hypervisors. An intensive survey of cloud-platform products fitting this bill led me to one solution: Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with HP Insight-managed servers, networking and storage. So I was pleased to read Microsoft's announcement last week that HP won Microsoft's 2013 Management and Virtualization Partner of the Year award. Vindication is sweet!
Mine is a rare greenfield deployment into which a client will migrate its entire existing non-cloud virtualized infrastructure. You might think this would be a perfect opportunity to exploit one of the many "cloud-in-a-box" offerings. But none of the pre-engineered cloud solutions could accommodate the migration process. They're primarily designed for deploying new workloads or performing physical-to-virtual transforms. My client's workloads are already virtualized and running just fine as is. The aim of the cloud move is to converge multiple data and storage networks to a single platform, managed with a single pane of glass.
Given a primarily Hyper-V environment—only about 10 percent of our virtual machines (VMs) are VMware—I knew that the key component of this solution would be the management toolset. The existing virtualized infrastructure labors under a plethora of disjointed administrative consoles, all supplied by platform vendors for servers, storage, and network infrastructure. That management miasma makes provisioning of new VMs extremely tedious. I needed a cohesive, integrated administrative dashboard to streamline provisioning and cut down on the current labor- and error-intensive deployment steps.
Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) can manage both Hyper-V and VMware VMs, which is a huge labor saver and provides the one-stop provisioning we crave. On HP's part, here are the top three reasons for choosing HP gear over the competition:
- Access to hardware knobs and dials. Although VMM gives us a single-pane provisioning system, it's important that we retain access to all the unique hardware features of server, storage, and networking components. HP's Insight Control gives us that. Insight also delivers deep-down instrumentation that lets us track performance and get early warning of problems across the cloud. The name of the game in cloud management is responding to resource stress as soon as possible, before end users notice a problem. Insight's extensive notification features meet that need.
- Storage as a layer. Over the last few years we expanded storage by adding additional arrays, each of which became a management "silo." This makes storage management exceedingly complex, and even within an array we had to deal with storage pool management that chopped up available space. HP's 3Par storage is a next-generation tiered storage solution that gets rid of boundaries and lets us manage storage to client specifications, hitting the speed and capacity marks that our service level agreements (SLAs) require. HP's Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) integration with System Center lets us manage storage as just another virtualization layer rather than as siloed pools of physical disks.
- Radical scalability. HP blade servers let us add compute capacity smoothly, without huge cost hits, and HP's converged Flex10 networking makes it simple to extend the core network without affecting operations. Plus HP and Microsoft provide a very clean reference architecture (RA) against which I am building out our new cloud. With a current physical server count nearing 200, operating out of a facility where we pay thousands of dollars per square foot in monthly space, power and cooling fees, the ability to grow in place is crucial. HP gear lets us upgrade servers, storage, and network capacity without building out new racks. Plus the ability to use our existing hardware with OpenFlow, the next-generation network provisioning technology, provides a bit of future-proofing.
I had no idea HP would win Microsoft's Management and Virtualization Partner of the Year award, but as the hardware for our new cloud started arriving this week, I'm very glad it did!