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Prior to joining Nebulon, I had been pretty well-versed in server-based storage solutions. I knew they had the potential to address key customer issues, but was also well aware that existing solutions like Hyper-Converged Infrastructure had failed to deliver. So, at the time I joined Nebulon, I was uncertain how this new technology from former 3PAR architects could address the issues enterprises faced, and I was happy to quickly discover otherwise. I soon learned that smartInfrastructure was a solution which offered customers a cloud-managed SaaS which enabled on-prem, server-based enterprise storage, automated operations and eliminated the need for expensive 3-tier infrastructure. But it was the architectural design and its endless possibilities that really sold me and convinced me that it had the potential to be a viable alternative for customers. How?

Before I go too deep, let’s take a look at the different areas where smartInfrastructure can help solve customer challenges that were previously not possible with server-based storage:

  1. smartInfrastructure Doesn’t Restrict Applications
    smartInfrastructure runs all enterprise data services on the SPU endpoint, meaning zero server CPU, memory and networking resources are consumed and no storage software is running on the server. Unlike Hyper-Converged Infrastructure or Software-Defined Storage which both run storage services on the server and consume up to 30% of server resources (100% for dedicated Software-Defined Storage appliances), with smartInfrastructure, users do not need to worry about choice of application or compromising application density.
  2. smartInfrastructure Simplifies Management
    With Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, the application administrator is in charge of configuring and maintaining the storage artifacts, a field of study that required years to produce a community of experts dedicated to storage. With smartInfrastructure, application owners can easily provision their own storage along with the operating system and application by use of tailored, cloud-defined application templates. Continuous monitoring in nebulon ON with AI-assisted troubleshooting gives administrators actionable recommendations to easily maintain and optimize their infrastructure by simply clicking a button, meaning no storage expertise is required, ever!
  3. smartInfrastructure Offers Easy High Availability
    Unlike Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, where best practices dictate draining storage services from a server when it needs patching, with smartInfrastructure, the SPU is not impacted by operating system reboots as there are no software or resource dependencies. This means storage in the server never needs to be taken down, even for software patching which is simple and easy and never has the risk of lost data. Additionally, with smartInfrastructure, the SPU endpoint or drive firmware updates require zero downtime and can be conveniently scheduled centrally from the Nebulon cloud, nebulon ON. Updates to management and monitoring services are unnoticeable as they are delivered as-a-service – an experience that is much like your hosted email service, e.g. Gmail.
  4. smartInfrastructure Means Reduced Infrastructure Costs
    Similar to Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, smartInfrastructure makes use of server-based storage that drives down hardware cost and eliminates the expense of a SAN. In addition, and since smartInfrastructure does not consume server CPU resources so requires fewer servers and software licenses for a given set of workloads versus Hyper-Converged Infrastructure and Software-Defined Storage.
  5. smartInfrastructure is Optimized for Modern Applications
    As Hyper-Converged Infrastructure traditionally is optimized for virtualized environments with a hypervisor, it limits customer choice for platforms and imposes an unnecessary overhead on storage and hypervisor license cost. Why storage overhead? Hypervisors rely on shared storage–high available, redundant storage that server-based, scale-out storage platforms solve with replication. smartInfrastructure was engineered to work in virtually every environment allowing modern cloud-native applications to run using local storage directly on bare metal or containers. Customers are relieved from the unnecessary spend on hypervisor licenses and replicated storage overhead.
  6. smartInfrastructure is Optimal for All Organizations, Big or Small
    The reality is that Hyper-Converged Infrastructure works well in small environments, not in large ones. smartInfrastructure is good for both, but shines in large environments. Because smartInfrastructure uses nebulon ON as a single API endpoint in the cloud to control a fleet of IoT endpoints, updates and configuration changes are simply done across the board vs. managing/updating each one by one. This is further streamlined by a set of SDKs for popular programming languages that empower customers to easily include smartInfrastructure in their existing and new automation workflows. With predictive maintenance and  simplified troubleshooting in the same tool, small IT teams can easily manage and maintain large scale and rapidly growing IT infrastructure.
  7. smartInfrastructure Eliminates Management Silos
    As smartInfrastructure was engineered to work in virtually every environment, customers are enabled to use a single technology for their core use cases, unlike Hyper-Converged Infrastructure that is tailored to virtualization. With the addition of a virtually endlessly scalable cloud-control plane, customers can centrally manage heterogenous environments, spanning multiple data centers, server vendors, application types, operating systems, and hypervisors. Accessible from a single API and graphical user interface, all management actions become a breeze – whether it is 1 device or 1000.

For customers who are looking to replace their on-prem storage environment but don’t want the restrictions imposed by Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, smartInfrastructure is a viable solution. If you’re interested in learning more about the technology, request a demo or check out our smartInfrastructure data sheet!

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Tobias Flitsch

Principle Product Manager

Tobias Flitsch has been working in enterprise data storage for more than 10 years. As a former solution architect and technical product manager, Tobias focused on various different scale-up and scale-out file and object storage solutions, big data, and applied machine learning. At Nebulon, his product management focus is on understanding and solving customer challenges with large-scale infrastructure.