Edge-focused Scale isn’t charging into the data centre market here, but rather responding to customer requests for an offering that can handle use cases like high density VDI deployments.
Scale Computing, whose HC3 software powers a range of edge-focused solutions aimed at edge deployments, including enterprises with huge numbers of small distributed locations, is making their first foray into what could be considered a data centre solution. The HC3250DF is the first of what Scale says will be a new class of HC3 appliances aimed at performance-intensive use cases like high density VDI deployments and analytics. Its not a high capacity offering, but it does have high performance, with all-NVMe, faster storage, more CPU, and faster networking options.
Another thing that the HC3250DF is not is a head-on challenge to Dell-VMware, Nutanix, HPE and the other HCI vendors who are focused explicitly on data centre requirements.
“We are entering this market because our customers are asking for it,” said Craig Theriac, director of product management at Scale Computing. “With our HC5000 we could hit higher capacity and performance points, but we didn’t have anything that was designed for database workloads. This lets us address those database workloads.”
“While customer demand was a key reason we came out with this, we were seeing partner demand as well,” said Scott Mann, Scale’s director of North American channel. “Existing partners see where it fits. It’s not that it’s a larger capacity system and goes into a new market. It’s a screaming fast system. It’s a differentiated product they can position to their customers.”
Indeed, the HC3250DF actually has less capacity than a maxed-out HC 5000, which Theriac noted has 167 TB as Tiered and 192 TB on an all spinning disks version. The HC3250DF caps out at 77 TB. What the HC3250DF offers is performance to power those higher demand workloads like VDI.
It also offers a lower price tag than the data centre HCI vendors, but Scale isn’t leading with price here.
“The price differential is fairly substantial, but we are not positioning this around cost,” Theriac said. “Cost always factors in but you can’t hang your hat on cost. There are other tenets like how quickly instances can be spun up, and the core higher performance requirements we can use for running these workloads.” The HC3250DF also offers traditional Scale advantages, such as its storage architecture requiring no manual configuration, and its consuming less system RAM, which leaves more RAM being available to virtual machines and their applications. That’s critical on smaller edge devices, but handy anywhere.
Mann emphasized that the HC3250DF gives Scale and its partners an offering that they can position with credibility around applications where more performance is required.
“Our partners have been selling Scale into SMB and lower midmarket use cases,” he said. “The performance of this will get them into a space where we have had demand, but not a solution that gives us confidence that we can win those opportunities. This opens the door for them.”
The HC3250DF was not designed with the pandemic-generated Work From Home market in mind, but it complements the needs of that market because of its ability to support VDI.
“We have a partnership with Leostream around VDI,” Theriac indicated. “They have a robust connection broker product around VDI. When COVID-19 came up, we used that broker to connect into VDI, and helped customers with their initial Work From Home transition. Now those customers who we helped plug that gap are thinking more strategically around VDI implementations and us with Leostream is an option there. We are seeing an uptake in Work From Home for all product lines and all-NVMe helps support that as well.”
The HC3250DF is intended to be the first of what Scale says will be a new class of HC3 appliances for performance-intensive use cases, begging the question of where this one fits in that new class. Will it be the floor model, the ceiling, or somewhere in between? While nothing is set in stone, it seems as though this will likely be a middle option, with more specialized ones above and below it in the family.
“It’s still to be determined,” Theriac said. “We have ideas around both lower and higher end options. One reason we started here is that a capacity point of 10 of these devices hits a reasonable point. We will fill this out with other products, but over time this one will likely become the workhorse.”
In addition to appealing to the current partner base, the HC3250DF also opens the door for partners who Scale has not worked with much or at all in the past.
“This will appeal to some partners who were more serious with our competitors,” Mann said. “There will always be partners who are Platinum partners of a Tier One, and those will be difficult for us because of those relationships, but there are other partners who want a solution that will fit this use case and we think we can earn their trust.”
Scale is also expecting this to appeal to MSP partners, particularly around Work From Home use cases.
“This will fit into our MSP program when we take this to market,” Theriac said,
“Managed services have become a lot more appealing in these times and we expect more interest from managed services partners and their end users,” Mann added. “The MSP model with a monthly price that’s easy to digest helps with customers today.”