Our previous post on Server Hardware: The Data Bus is Playing Catch-Up has had a lot of traction.
Our tweets on I.T. companies not having a lab for their solutions sales engineers and technicians has had a lot of traction.
So, let’s move forward with a rather blunt opinion piece shall we? ;)
What client wants to drop $25K on an 800bhp blown 454CID engine then shovel it in to that Vega/Monza only to find the car twisted into a pretzel on the first run and very possibly the driver with serious injuries or worse?
Seriously, why wouldn’t the same question be asked by a prospect or client that is about to drop $95K or more on a Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) cluster that the I.T. provider has _never_ worked with? Does the client or prospect even think of asking that question? Are there any references with that solution in production? If the answer is “No” then get the chicken out of that house!
In the automotive industry folks ask those questions especially when they have some serious coin tied up in the project … at least we believe they would based on previous experience.
Note that there are a plethora of videos on YouTube and elsewhere showing the results of so-called “tuners” blowing the bottom end out of an already expensive engine. :P
In all seriousness though, how can an I.T. company sell a solution to a client that they’ve never worked with, put together, tested, or even _seen_ before?
It really surprised me to be chatting with a technical architect that works for a large I.T. provider when they told me their company doesn’t believe there is any value in providing a lab for them.
S2D Lab Setup
A company that keeps a lab, refreshes it every so often, stands to gain so much more than folks that count the beans may see.
For S2D, the following is a good place, and inexpensive, to start:
- Typical 4-node S2D lab based on Intel Server Systems
- R2224WTTYSR Servers: $15K each
- Intel 750 Series NVMe $1K/Node
- Intel 3700 Series SATA $2K/Node
- Seagate/HGST Spindles $3K/Node
- Mellanox RDMA Networking: $18K (MSX1012X + 10GbE CX-3 Adapters)
- NETGEAR 10GbE Networking: $4K (XS716T + X540-T2 or X550-T2)
- Cost: ~$75K to $85K
The setup should look something like this:
S2D Lab (Front)
S2D Lab (Rear)
Note that we have two extra nodes for a Hyper-V cluster setup to work with S2D as a SOFS only solution.
Okay, so the bean counters are saying, “what do we get for our $100K hmmm?”
Point 1: We’ve Done It
The above racked systems images go into any S2D Proposal with an explanation that we’ve been building these hyper-converged clusters since Windows Server 2016 was in its early technical preview days. The prospect that sees the section outlining our efforts to fine tune our solutions on our own dime places our competitors at a huge disadvantage.
Point 2: References
With our digging in and testing from the outset we would be bidding on deals with these solutions. As a result, we are one of the few with go-to-market ready solutions and will have deployed them before most others out there even know what S2D is!
Point 3: Killer and Flexible Performance
Most solutions we would be bidding against are traditional SAN style configurations. Our hyper-converged S2D platform provides a huge step up over these solutions in so many ways:
- IOPS: NVMe utilized at the cache layer for real IOPS gains over traditional SAN either via Fibre Channel or especially iSCSI.
- Throughput: Our storage can be set up to run huge amounts of data through the pipe if required.
- Scalability: We can start off small and scale out up to 16 nodes per cluster.
- 2-8 nodes @ 10GbE RDMA via Mellanox and RoCEv2
- 8-16 nodes @ 40GbE RDMA via Mellanox and RoCEv2
- Or, 100GbE RDMA via Mellanox and RoCEv2
This begs the question: How does one know how one’s solution is going to perform if one has never deployed it before?
Oh, we know: “I’ve read it in Server’s Reports”, says the lead sales engineer. ;)
Point 4: Point of Principle
It has been mentioned here before: We would never,_ever_, deploy a solution that we’ve not worked with directly.
For one, because we want to make sure our solution would fulfil the promises we’ve made around it. We don’t want to be called to come and pick up our high availability solution because it does not do what it was supposed to do. We’ve heard of that happening for some rather expensive solutions from other vendors.
Point 5: Reputation
Our prospects can see that we have a history, and a rather long one at that, of digging in quite deep both in our own pockets but also of our own time to develop our solution sets. That also tells them that we are passionate about the solutions we propose.
We _are_ Server’s Reports so we don’t need to rely on any third party for a frame of reference! ;)
Finally, an I.T. company that invests in their crew both in lab kit, time, training, and mentorship will find their crew quite passionate about the solutions they are selling and working with. That translates into sales but also happy clients that can see for themselves that they are getting a great value for their I.T. dollars.
I.T. Services Companies get and maintain a lab! It is worth it!