Atlantis Computing have added a new, smaller form-factor hyper-converged product to their existing CX line, the CX-4.
Designed with Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) deployments in mind, the CX-4 is a two-node design, specifically created to keep the price down on deployments that can’t justify the more expensive CX-12 or CX-24 units.
The CX-4 is an all-flash unit, whereas other hyper-converged aimed at ROBO deployments tend to be spinning disk or hybrid setups. According to Atlantis, they looked at a hybrid of disk and flash, but the cost difference was only about 5% for equivalent usable capacity, so they just went with all flash.
“The new Atlantis HyperScale CX-4 truly meets an unmet need in the industry and is a game changer for our ROBO customers,” said Chetan Venkatesh, president and CEO of Atlantis. “Prior to this offering, it would be unheard of for a ROBO environment to be equipped with an all-flash hyper-converged appliance because of the cost.”
The CX-4 is available on physical hardware from SuperMicro, Dell PowerEdge FX2 server platform option. The FX2 has an inbuilt redundant networking capability, meaning you don’t need external networking devices to connect the nodes together. The FX2 is a more expensive option than the SuperMicro TwinPro unit that Atlantis are using for their low cost option of about US$43,000 list, but the saving on additional switch infrastructure is important to factor in.
Usually with hyper-converged devices, you need some form of external networking connection to connect nodes with one another so they can perform their scale-out functions. The CX-4 has the ability to directly cable the two-node option together, but if you need to add nodes, you’ll need to go buy a couple of switches so they can all talk to each other. The switches can’t be some super-low-end devices either, because of the performance requirements to keep the nodes synchronized, so the total cost of a deployment needs to factor them in.
External switches also add complexity to the deployment, and when you need to scale to many sites — such as in a retail chain, or remote oil and gas rigs — adding complexity to sites that often don’t have onsite support staff is a huge management challenge. Simple and reliable is the name of the game, which is why I like the idea of having as few devices and cables as possible.
Hyper-converged is shaping up to be a major battleground for vendors, so expect to see a lot of product announcements like this in coming months.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.