Last August 23rd, SimpliVity (one of the leading HCI manufacturers) made an announcement about a number of interesting new capabilities of their HCI solution. Here’s a summary of these capabilities:
  • All-flash hyperconverged infrastructure solution
  • Industry-leading enterprise scale for VDI workloads
  • Application-aware SQL Server backups
  • SimpliVity RapidDR automated disaster recovery solution

All-flash hyperconverged infrastructure solution

SimpliVity introduces a new series of all-flashed based Building Blocks. With this new series SimpliVity strengthens the peak and predictable performance qualities of their portfolio. The new Building Blocks, available in various brands, fit into the existing portfolio of SimpliVity Building Blocks. The specifications of the all Flash Block “CN-5400-F” do not differ from those of the existing “CN-5400”, except for the storage configuration, which exists entirely of Intel SSDs. SimpliVity Building Blocks

Enterprise scale for VDI workloads

SimpliVity announces that now 4000 office worker desktops can be run in a single VDI building block. This development doubles the existing VDI capacity and lowers the price per VDI, sharpening the competition with other lead manufacturers of HCI solutions.

How does the Enterprise scale for VDI workloads work out?

The announcement states that 4000 office worker VDI can run on a single VDI building Block. This sounds pretty awesome, but what is the definition of a VDI Building Block?

How does this work out in the Reference Architecture? The 4000 worker VDIs per VDI building Block configuration has been tested in the following setup: Two 8 node vSphere clusters (total of 16 CN-2400 OmniCubes), placed in different Datacenter objects. Amongst others for the VDI VMs were used OS Windows 7, virtual hardware version 11 and a linked clone configuration.

[caption id="attachment_4635" align="aligncenter" width="300"]VDI Building Block A single VDI Building Block[/caption]  

CPU 18 cores and 2 sockets per server is 36 physical CPUs. Four cores are used for the OVC, so 32 pCPUs per OmniCube. Added Hyper-Threading, results in 64 logical CPUs per OmniCube and 0.016 logical CPU per VDI VM. Each VM has one logical vCPU. The VMs are divided over two clusters (2000 + 2000) and per cluster 224 pCPUs are available (32x7). An N+1 configuration is used (“N” being the number of active SimpliVity nodes, plus one redundant node). The 2000 vCPUs per cluster, divided by 224 pCPUs, results in a circa 8,9 virtual to physical CPU ratio.

Memory Every OmniCube in this configuration contains 512 GB of memory, of which 57 GB is reserved for the OVC. Remains 455 GB RAM of usable memory per OmniCube. The VDIs are divided over two clusters and receive 1,5 GB of memory each. 455 GB RAM times 7 usable OmniCube systems per cluster results in 3.185 GB RAM per cluster. SimpliVity states that 3000 GB is allocated for desktops, 185 GB is used for spare capacity and no over commitment of memory is applied.

VDI density In the end the VDI density seems to be about 285 office worker VDIs per OmniCube 4000 : (16-2), where 2 Cubes are subtracted because of the N+1 config. The impression that one might get that 4000 VDI’s run on one OmniCube, should be avoided. 4000 VDIs run on 16 OmniCubes.

Various Reference Architectures are made available by SimpliVity, for topics such as VMware Horizon 7, Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Exchange and Cisco ACI. More SimpliVity Reference Architectures can be found here.

Application-aware SQL Server backups

 The Data Protection capabilities differentiate SimpliVity from other HCI solutions, by merging application-aware backup functionality into the Building Blocks, besides of offering full VM backups. In the upcoming release of the SimpliVity OmniStack 3.5.3 software, application-aware backup capabilities for Microsoft SQL server are included with these functionalities:
  • Backup Windows can be reduced
  • Performance overhead during backups can be reduced
  • Restores of Microsoft SQL databases can be simplified
  • Database logs can be automatically truncated

SimpliVity RapidDR automated DR solution

When it comes to Data recovery down time is usually very expensive, recovery procedures complex and the created scenarios are not always tested. RapidDR offers an automation solution for Disaster Recovery. It automates a site to site failover. One can plan which VM’s have to recover in case of a DR, and which not, in which order to failover and then initiate the failover with the click of a button instead of executing many steps. The Rapid DR product will be available in October 2016. For Rapid DR licensing the first 25 licenses are offered for free. After that one can purchase bundles of 25 or 100 licenses. wrblog-fig3


The announcement of new developments (in the OmniStack 3.5.3 software and the All flash solution) is in my opinion an interesting jump forward in the HCI race with top competitors Nutanix and Pivot3, because it makes the product more complete. The All-flash solution is an addition to SimpliVity’ s portfolio. The company is able to serve a broader range of use cases then before. Also the new enterprise scale for VDI workloads contributes to the portfolio enhancement, emphasizing that HCI based virtualization is worthwhile for virtual workstation solutions. The numbers in the reference Architecture “VMware Horizon 7 with SimpliVity OmniStack” represent an ideal scenario, but are interesting to regard as the maximum possible goals for VDI density and price per VDI calculations. With the application-aware SQL server backups feature SimpliVity continues the Hyperconversion motion, offering even more Infrastructure requirements from their uniform Datacenter Building Blocks. As does the RapidDR automated disaster recovery solution. Providing functionality similar to VMware SRM. The price of the RapidDR product per VM seems reasonable. With the previous gap of options for monitoring and statistics closed by OmniView, available in OmniStack 3.5, the SimpliVity product seems to become more mature and manageable. Still missing, from a management point of view, are components like PowerShell support (and some template scripts), administrator documentation (daily operations etc.) and wizards helping an administrator or project worker to implement configuration changes (e.g. upgrading a “one plus one” to a “two plus two” configuration). See also prior Blogs on SimpliVity: SimpliVity: een Hyperconverged oplossing (in Dutch) and Simplivity Announcements (in English) by colleague Yannick Arens. Also check out this SimpliVity resources page.