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Lenovo-StorMagic SvSAN combo aims at low-end hyper-convergence

Hyper-convergence is spreading to new markets through partnerships, such as systems running StorMagic SvSAN software on Lenovo ThinkServers.

Lenovo is moving into hyper-convergence and targeting the low end, partnering with StorMagic on two-node configurations that start at $5,000.

Distributor Arrow Electronics Inc. will sell StorMagic SvSAN software on entry-level ThinkServer RS140 and System x3250 M5 servers, as well as a 2U ThinkServer RD650 in North America.

StorMagic is Lenovo's second hyper-converged partnership launched in a month. Pivot3 Inc. in July said that Arrow is selling Pivot3 HCI hyper-converged software on ThinkServer RD650 servers in Europe.

StorMagic SvSAN is a virtual storage appliance that runs on x86 hardware and turns servers into active-active iSCSI storage targets. The software provides synchronous mirroring, stretched clusters and the ability to pool storage across nodes. StorMagic sells SvSAN versions for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors.

ThinkServer RS140 is a 1U entry-level server that runs Hyper-V, targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and remote offices. It holds from 2 TB to 8 TB of capacity and customers can use SvSAN software to synchronously mirror between two systems. A 2 TB configuration starts at $5,000.

ThinkServer x3250 is sold as a two-node cluster that supports VMware vSphere and Hyper-V for SMB remote offices. Each 1U node holds four 3.5-inch or eight 2.5-inch SAS/SATA drives and a two-node cluster scales to 24 TB.

ThinkServer RD650 is sold as a two-node cluster of 2U boxes that scales to 74 TB. It includes two optional M.2 solid-state drives (SSDs) and eight PCIe slots to connect flash storage. It also supports vSphere and Hyper-V.

Even if you're paranoid and wish you had something more robust than an internal server, StorMagic has parallel synching capability for a cluster.
Colm Keegansenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

The StorMagic-Lenovo systems lack the scale, all-flash configurations and advanced storage features, such as deduplication and analytics, offered by Nutanix and other hyper-converged market leaders. But, StorMagic's mirroring provides high availability (HA) across only two nodes, and it lets Lenovo enter the market at a low price.

"Where we're heading is to be the leader in 1U and 2U servers," said Brian Hamel, vice president and general manager of Lenovo's North American enterprise business group. "This hyper-converged space is a big part of our strategy. We'll go to market with partners, and we plan to lead in the low-end part of the market."

Hamel said Lenovo will forge other hyper-converged partnerships, each hitting a different market segment. Other software-only hyper-converged players, such as Maxta and VMware, are partner candidates.

Most hyper-converged systems require at least three nodes for high availability, but StorMagic CEO Hans O'Sullivan said SvSAN enables HA on two servers. He said StorMagic SvSAN solves the split-brain problem that occurs when cluster nodes lose contact after one goes down. O'Sullivan said SvSAN uses a single remote quorum to determine which node can update data or go offline to maintain data integrity. Other systems require a quorum running on a third server to provide a majority vote.

Colm Keegan, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass., said the Lenovo-StorMagic combination should draw the interest of small companies, as well as companies with a large number of remote offices.

"Using internal server disk to manage application workloads is attractive, because you don't have to put a SAN in place," he said. "And even if you're paranoid and wish you had something more robust than an internal server, StorMagic has parallel synching capability for a cluster."

Pivot3 sells several hyper-converged systems, but Lenovo is its first OEM partner. Pivot3 goes after specific target markets with its systems, including video surveillance and virtual desktop infrastructure. However, Pivot3 CEO Ron Nash said he is seeing more mainstream interest in hyper-convergence.

"We see a heightened interest in people trying to figure out what hyper-converged is," Nash said. "There is toes-in-the-water type buying across the board."

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