A Practical Approach to Evaluating HCI Solutions

Peter Carey

In today’s market, there are a number of established hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) providers. While they all identify their offerings under the HCI banner, the manner in which they operate differs place to place. On the surface, they may appear similar—in a lot of ways they are. But, under the hood, their architectures and approaches differ. As a result, it can be difficult to define and identify an HCI solution that meets your requirements—even if you spend countless hours researching each vendor.

Where Do I Begin?

Get to know more about your current environment. Each of the major vendors offers tools that provide in-depth summaries. While this is a good starting point, remember, a lot of the tools are point-in-time. If you know of underlying issues, it is important to highlight them now. This will ensure they are factored into the new solution.

Using your research, list the key features and data services you would like to enable. Create an evaluation table with a rating system (e.g. 1 is the highest, 5 is the lowest). Then, list each feature and identify what is required, preferred, and optional.

At this stage, it is ok to list all key features. Doing so may also simplify the process.

What Else Should I Evaluate?

Some areas that may not spring to mind—but should be considered for evaluation—are:

  • Hardware vendor preference
    Be sure to factor this in if you have a vendor you are pleased with.
  • Single points of contact
    In most instances, it is better to have a vendor who can support both hardware and software on one call, without the need to pass you back and forth.
  • Hypervisor
    Not all HCI solutions run Hyper-V.
  • Network connectivity
    In most cases, 10GbE is preferred—and sometimes a necessity.

What Next?

You can begin the path of selecting a vendor once you have identified key features. Either create a new table with your preferred vendors, or append your current one. Next, evaluate your preferred HCI features compared to available vendor offerings.

Summary of key features

Once you have finalized your evaluation and tallied your scores, the end result should be one or two vendors. The final step is to factor in pricing. This will most likely require the assistance of your IT selling partner. Task them with researching the prices. You could even ask them to evaluate your findings to ensure the solution matches up. Contact your IT provider today and start working on a solution that fits your business.

Peter Carey is a Senior Systems Engineer at Connection, and has over 20 years of experience in virtualization, storage, and hyper-converged infrastructure. He also carries VMware Certified Professional 6.5 certification. In his free time, Peter enjoys traveling and hiking.