The case for HCI – a user survey review

Computer survey
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I recently had the opportunity to review some information collected by TechValidate on an HCI vendor, Scale Computing. Now, for full disclosure, AR Consultant Group is a partner of Scale Computing.  Scale Computing makes an HCI product marketed under the product family of HC3.  Even so, data collected by TechValidate is pertinent to HCI solutions across the board.  After reviewing the data and how it was presented, I found it not only easy to research, but a great way to show potential customers and even those mildly curious the advantages of HCI.

Many are not familiar with HCI, or HyperConverged Infrastructure.  It is the combination of compute resources, storage, and hypervisor without the licensing costs in a single preconfigured package.  Certainly, there are other things that vendors add in order to differentiate themselves, but these three are standard within the hyperconverged solution set.  In this particular instance, Scale Computing targets the SMB community, those businesses with between 100 to 500 employees and 1 to 5 IT staff.

The Data

First and foremost, the data bowled me over.  Not the actual data itself, but the method with which the data is presented.  If you haven’t seen the TechValidate package, then you certainly should.  It is a great way to present data and customer opinions.  TechValidate surveyed customers after purchase on what product advantages they found and other traditional data points.  They then presented this data using real-life Scale customers.  The company profiles also back the data up.  Seems like an innovative way to proactively publish data that allows customers and prospective clients to investigate specific data points that interest them – from people that are actually using the product.

The Results

The graphs provided by TechValidate center around challenges that are solved by the Scale HC3 solution.  Also charted are what benefits the customer perceives from a hyperconverged solution.  First, let’s examine the Operational Challenges data.

Operational Challenges Solved by HCI

Operational Challenges solved by hyperconvered technologies from Scale fell primarily into two categories – improvement of processes and reduction of cost or complexity.

The improvement of process challenges appear to revolve around the benefits of virtualization in a preconfigured clustered setup.  By handling the hardware and software clustering aspects of virtualization through hyperconversion, these solutions allow for hassle-free increases in customer processes.   Server hardware clustering and failover, failover of other infrastructure aspects, and simplification of disaster recovery became much simplier.  In other words, the manufacturer made these benefits easy to implement for customer business.

Customer Content verified by TechValidate.

Reducing cost and complexity of hyperconverged solutions, allows customers to enjoy reduced cost of purchasing everything separately.  This also reduces time spent in administration of all the systems separately,  It reduces complexity of support through having a single vendor support contract.

By making the IT function more efficient and getting more value for the budget, this survey addresses many of the main concerns of staff and management of the SMB.

Biggest Benefit from Scale Computing HCI

A follow-up survey asked customers of Scale Computing about the actual business benefits they found from implementing HC3.  Again, these fell into two basic categories – Ease of use and improvement to the information technology environment.

Customer References verified by TechValidate.

Ease of use is the largest benefit by a large margin.  Making the product easy to use increases the interest from customers. “Hey, this will work for me“.  It also shows a benefit to the customer.  Now that it is “easier” to do tasks it therefore cuts down on my after-hours/weekend work.  In addition, it gives me the time to pursue other projects.  It is also easier to train new staff on how to support the system. Believe me, coming from a guy who carried a weekend pager and supported physical servers, these are huge benefits.

Improvement of environment encompasses many different benefits that customers found.  Benefits included improved reliability, scalability, and high availability of business critical workloads.  While these benefits are available to any company, the ability of a single product to bring all these benefits together is a game changer.  It is now possible to get these benefits from a single package that works in your environment.  With a minimum of stress.  It is also expandable and less expensive than doing it a la carte.

The Feedback

It is refreshing to see actual verifiable customer feedback from a third party, not marketing slicks.  Data that extols the value of both HCI, and Scale Computing’s implementation of HCI .  This customer feedback is available in a condensed form.  There is also the ability to dive deeper into the data. So potential customers can research their industry, geographical location, and company size.  These are real world data points from customers, not a marketing department.


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