Scale Computing HC3 hyper-convergence dips below $25,000

Hyper-converged SMB specialist Scale Computing adds a new low-end hybrid flash appliance at $24,500 for a three-node cluster. Can it hold off Nutanix?

Scale Computing is defending its SMB hyper-converged turf against Nutanix by launching an appliance with flash...

and a street price of under $25,000 for a three-node configuration.

The Scale Computing HC1150 will ship in July, following two larger hyper-converged hybrid flash appliances that Scale rolled out last month. Unlike the HC2150 and HC4150 Scale Computing HC3 hyper-converged appliances, the HC1150 uses the latest Intel Broadwell chip that has more cores, memory and cache than the previous version.

Hyper-converged appliances include storage, compute, networking and virtualization in one box. Scale has concentrated on the SMB market from the start, while competitors such as Nutanix have sold more expensive systems for larger customers. However, Nutanix is preparing to officially launch its Xpress hybrid flash SMB appliance with Broadwell processors at a starting price of $25,000 in July.

The HC1150 runs the same Scale hyper-converged software as Scale's HC2150 and HC4150. That includes the HyperCore operating system and Scribe storage stack. Scale product evangelist Alan Conboy said Scale considered it important to keep all its features intact for the low-end appliance.

He pointed out that Nutanix scaled down its software stack for Xpress and does not allow customers to use it in clusters with its larger appliances. Any of the Scale Computing HC3 appliance models can run in the same cluster.

"We provide customers with everything they need to run in place of a legacy SAN, including a growth path that doesn't require rip and replace," Conboy said. "We're not just the entry point, we're the guy you grow up with.

"Instead of stripping out features and functions that made it interesting in the first place and calling it SMB-focused, we have everything, all-in."

What's in an HC1150?

Like most hyper-converged systems, Scale requires a minimum three-node cluster. A three-node HC1150 configuration has a manufacturer's suggested price of $30,000 with an expected street price of $24,500.

Scale Computing HC3 hyper-converged appliances use a KVM open-source hypervisor instead of VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V.

The HC1150 is available with 64 GB, 126 GB or 256 GB of RAM; one 480 GB, 960 GB or 1.92 TB SATA eMLC SSD; and three 1 TB, 2 TB or 4 TB nearline 7,200 RPM SAS HDDs per node. The $24,500 option is for 64 GB of RAM, 480 GB of flash, 3 TB of hard disk drives and Gigabit-Ethernet connectivity. Each node has eight CPU cores.

In comparison, the Scale HC2150 scales to 18 TB, uses 10-GigE networking and comes with 128 GB or 256 GB of RAM. It is designed for more write-intensive SSDs and provides higher IOPS than the HC1150. The HC4150 is more compute-intensive with up to 512 GB of RAM, 12 TB of HDD capacity and 1.6 TB of flash.

Conboy said the HC2150 and HC4250 will be updated with Broadwell chips by the first quarter of 2017.

Scale Computing HC3 appliances designed around SMBs

Arun Taneja, consulting analyst at Taneja Group, said Scale should have the advantage in the SMB market over better-known hyper-converged rivals.

"Each company designs its products for a sweet spot," he said. "Scale Computing designed its products for the low end and all of its design decisions were around that. Nutanix designed for a much higher market, as did SimpliVity and Springpath. I think you'll find Scale should be able to compete effectively in that space because that's its sweet spot. I don't know if others can compete at that price spot."

He said it's important for storage vendors to remember that SMB applications are as critical as enterprise workloads.

"Even for small customers, certain applications are performance sensitive," Taneja said. "Vendors are learning that you don't treat small customers any different than you would treat bigger customers. When they don't have the right performance, small companies suffer as much as the guys inside General Motors doing CAD work."

Scale is also adding an HC1100 without flash. It includes up to 128 TB of RAM and 4 TB to 16 TB of HD capacity.

Scale's hyper-converged options now range from a three-node 18-core 12 TB HC1100 with 192 GB of RAM to an eight-node HC4150 with 96 TB of HDD capacity, 12.8 TB of flash, and 4 TB of RAM for $350,000 MSRP.

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