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Mellanox switch integrated with Scale Computing HC3

Hyper-converged vendor Scale Computing said Mellanox SX1012 switch architecture enables customers to scale network bandwidth and manage HC3 clusters like a private cloud.

Scale Computing has taken the first step toward physically integrating third-party network switches in its branded HC3 hyper-converged appliances though a partnership with Mellanox Technologies.

Scale Computing said customers have the option to order HC3 nodes bundled with Mellanox Ethernet switches. The integration involves Mellanox SX1012 top-of-rack switches and Mellanox NEO network orchestration software, which is a separate management pane accessed via the HC3 HyperCore interface.

Mellanox switch products include Ethernet and InfiniBand products. The devices provide an underlying technology layer in enterprise systems such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise blade servers, IBM Elastic Storage Server and Oracle Engineered Systems.

Scale Computing said Mellanox's switch scalability is a key factor in bringing it into the HC3 hyper-converged appliance. The Mellanox SX1012 is a 1U compact-spine switch that connects to servers through 12 physical 40 gigabit Ethernet ports that can also be split into 48 10 GbE ports.

Mellanox switch integration prepares HC3 for larger deals

Hyper-converged systems combine compute resources, storage, and virtualization in a single appliance. Unlike most hyper-converged vendors, Scale Computing does not support VMware in its appliances. It supports only the open source KVM hypervisor, a move aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with distributed storage.

Scale's long-range roadmap includes physically embedding the Mellanox switch system in HC3 nodes. Future versions of HyperCore operating system software are expected to integrate Mellanox NEO cloud orchestration in a single pane of glass. Customers may also get HC3 systems with their preferred switching vendor.

The Mellanox switch partnership is the result of Scale Computing "being pulled into larger deals" from its original niche in SMB storage, according to Scale CEO Jeff Ready. Ready said Mellanox's switch architecture allows customers to scale network bandwidth and manage an HC3 cluster like a private cloud.

When Scale Computing started selling HC3 hyper-converged appliances in 2012, it focused mainly on replacing customer's legacy server and storage infrastructure. Providing Mellanox switch technology as an option allows Scale to also incorporate networking into hyper-convergence.

"Most of the time, we wind up replacing a customer's legacy servers and storage," Ready said. "The only thing we aren't displacing was the network. Now, about 50% of our customers are asking us to replace networking infrastructure at the same time. We partnered with Mellanox to give them one-stop shopping."

Integrated network switches in hyper-converged boxes: The next wave?

Colm Keegan, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., said Scale Computing is getting ahead of the hyper-converged market by integrating the Mellanox switch upgrades in HC3 nodes. Including switching can remove the anxiety associated with configuring switches independently of storage.

Keegan said Scale's integration effort also underscores customer preferences to have a single vendor handle all management and support.

"This becomes a big deal as companies start moving data to the hybrid cloud for replication, archiving or as a disaster recovery site," he said. "As you begin pushing data from site to site, you don't want to be constrained by network latency. There may not be a screaming need for it inside [SMBs] yet, but it will become more important over time."

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