Cisco HyperFlex [Explained]

Solution architecture

Cisco HyperFlex systems combine Cisco UCS networking and computing technology, powerful Intel Xeon Scalable processors, and the HX Data Platform to deliver a complete, pre-integrated solution. After you install locally or through the Intersight interface, your cluster is ready to work for you whether you need to support virtualized or containerized applications. You get a uniform pool of computing, networking, and storage resources that are designed to power your applications. When you need to provide computing or storage capacity, that capacity is drawn from the entire pool.

Cluster composition with Cisco Hyperflex HX-Series nodes

Physically, a cluster is composed of a set of three or more HX-Series nodes. These are integrated to form a single system through a pair of Cisco UCS 6300 or 6400 Series Fabric Interconnects with 10- or 40- Gbps connectivity. Cisco UCS servers can contribute additional computing and GPU acceleration capacity, participating in the data platform but contributing only computing power (and possibly graphics acceleration) to the cluster. These compute-only nodes can be configured up to a ratio of two compute-only nodes per Cisco HyperFlex node.

Using Cisco UCS fabric interconnects, you have a single point of connectivity and management that incorporates HX-Series nodes and Cisco UCS servers: a key architectural element that no other hyper-converged vendor can offer. After you deploy a cluster, you can scale it to its maximum size without needing to redesign the network. The solution is designed for easy, smooth scaling. Hyperconverged systems need massive amounts of east-west traffic bandwidth and low latency, and Cisco UCS fabric interconnects deliver both with either 10- or 40-Gbps networking.

Cisco HyperFlex Edge solutions are deployed as fixed sets of two, three, or four edge-specific nodes that use Cisco or third-party Gigabit or 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, offering the utmost flexibility for deployment in remote and branch-office environments.

You can mix and match blade and rack servers to tune the cluster with the right mix of processing and storage capacity for their workloads.

The replication factor determines how many copies of information will be kept in the Cisco HyperFlex cluster. Replication factor 2 (RF2) will have two copies available, distributed across two nodes. Replication factor 3 (RF3) means
that there will be three copies available on the cluster.

In the VMware vSphere environment, the controller occupies a virtual machine with a dedicated number of processor cores and amount of memory, allowing it to deliver consistent performance and not affect the performance of the other virtual machines on the cluster.
The controller can access all storage without hypervisor intervention through the VMware VM_DIRECT_PATH feature. It uses the node’s memory and SSD drives as part of a distributed caching layer, and it uses the node’s HDDs for distributed capacity storage. The controller integrates the data platform into VMware software through the use of two preinstalled VMware ESXi vSphere Installation Bundles (VIBs):

  • IO Visor: This VIB provides a Network File System (NFS) mount point so that the ESXi hypervisor can access the virtual disk drives that are attached to individual virtual machines. From the hypervisor’s perspective, it is simply attached to an NFS.
  • VMware vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI): This storage offload API allows vSphere to request advanced file system operations such as snapshots and cloning. The controller causes these operations to occur through manipulation of metadata rather than actual data copying, providing rapid response and thus rapid deployment of new application environments.

Benefits of Cisco Hyperflex:

Cisco HyperFlex unlocks the full potential of hyperconvergence for a wider range of workloads and use cases. Our innovations include:

●      Enterprise-grade application platform with a fully integrated, multitenant Kubernetes environment with full lifecycle management provided by the Cisco Intersight cloud operations platform.

●      Fully integrated all-NVMe nodes that are engineered for performance and reliability

●      A unique hardware data compression accelerator

●      Full bare-metal deployment and software maintenance managed from the cloud

●      Flexible GPU acceleration in virtual desktop environments

●      Powerful GPU acceleration for AI and ML inferencing applications.

The Cisco HyperFlex platform is faster to deploy, simpler to manage, easier to scale, and ready to provide a unified pool of resources to power your business applications. Cisco HyperFlex systems integrate into the data center you have today to form the foundation of your hybrid-cloud strategy. You can deploy Cisco HyperFlex systems wherever you need them, from central data center environments to remote locations and edge-computing environments:

Reference: notes from following white paper:


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