Scale Computing: infrastructure made simple

by Robin Harris on Friday, 15 August, 2014

Google and Amazon have armies of PhDs to design, manage and diagnose their scale-out systems. Few small to medium sized businesses do – nor should they – but they should still have the advantages of scale-out infrastructure.

Imagine infrastructure that comes in a box with no costly VMware licenses, great support and good scalability. That is the idea behind Scale Computing. As one customer put it: “It’s not VMware – it’s better.”

Scale-out for the rest of us
Scale Computing is aiming at the midsize company market. The folks with a tiny, overworked IT group or person.

The key to making this work is simplification. Instead of the typical infrastructure of servers, switches and arrays, layered over with hypervisors and VMs, Scale integrates servers, storage and virtualization in one box.

Actually, several clustered boxes for redundancy. But managed as a single server, through a simple GUI.

How?
Making clustering and virtualization easy isn’t easy. Let’s start with the hardware.

Three models – the HC1000, HC2000, HC3000 – that support anywhere from 3 quad core to 6 hex core CPUs, from 96GB to 384GB DRAM and from 6 to 28.8TB raw storage per box.

Software makes it go.

  • SCRIBE is the layer that aggregates all block storage into a single pool that mirrors data chunks for performance, redundancy and fast rebuilds.
  • HyperCore bare metal hypervisor – based on KVM – that accesses the SCRIBE virtual storage devices directly as local storage. VM-level snapshots, thin VMs and VM replication and recovery standard.
  • The HC3 Manager GUI is the single control point for all system resources, OSs, VMs and applications.

The system currently scales to 16 nodes. Supports up to 400 VMs per node.

3 node systems – the minimum – start at an MSRP of $25.5k and range up to $67.5k for the top of the line servers. Additional nodes are 1/3 those prices.

Proof
Customers seem to like it too. They advertise a Net Promoter score of 75, giving them higher customer loyalty than the iPhone.

The StorageMojo take
What a difference 5 years makes. Back then Scale was based on GPFS, cool in theory but less workable in practice.

Since then they’ve written SCRIBE and made good use of open source software to build a system that delivers good scale and industry-leading ease of use. At a very reasonable price, too.

Any small to medium sized business should give Scale a close look. It’s 21st century infrastructure from the ground up.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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