Virtualization

The Top 10 Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Software Solutions

A buyer’s guide featuring the best hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software solutions on the market, with highlighted features and in depth product summaries.

The Top Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Software Include:
  • 1. Azure Stack HCI
  • 2. Cisco HyperFlex Systems
  • 3. DataCore SANsymphony
  • 4. Dell VxRail Hyperconverged Infrastructure
  • 5. HPE SimpliVity
  • 6. Nutanix Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)
  • 7. NetApp HCI
  • 8. Scale Computing Platform (SC Platform)
  • 9. StarWind Virtual SAN
  • 10. VMWare vSAN

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a software-defined way for companies to be able to consolidate their data center resources, simplify management, and streamline deployments. Unlike traditional converged infrastructure solutions, HCI is entirely software based. It is particularly useful for companies looking for more flexibility and efficiency in their IT operations, amongst other benefits.

The core benefit of HCI, and the reason why so many companies are opting for HCI software, is that as its software-focused, it allows businesses to deploy infrastructure components as software instances. This provides greater flexibility and ease of integration with their existing systems. HCI certainly has its benefits when it comes to the cloud. Companies that deploy a HCI solution can build private clouds, extend their ecosystem to public clouds, and assist in helping companies achieve true hybrid clouds. As organizations move towards hybrid cloud environments, the right HCI solution can act as a bridge, providing consistent operations and management across on-premises and cloud platforms. 

Why is HCI such a game changer for so many companies? Well, beyond HCI software being instrumental in supporting your organization’s journey to the cloud, traditional IT infrastructures usually require separate teams for specific functions and to manage certain resources, such as storage, compute, and networking. This can leads to complexity and a lack of flexibility within organizations. HCI creates a more flexible environment through breaking these silos, allowing IT teams to manage resources in a holistic way. HCI reduces operational overheads, as well as enhancing performance, resilience, and data efficiency, whilst reducing logistical challenges and crossovers.

In this article, we’ve listed the best HCI software solutions. In each instance, we’ll explore their key features, as well as their key use cases. We have also included an FAQ section covering some of the common questions regarding hyperconverged infrastructure software solutions.

Azure logo

Azure Stack HCI is designed to run production workloads and cloud-native applications. It integrates with the Azure ecosystem, enabling users to manage and monitor Azure Stack HCI hosts, virtual machines (VMs), and containers directly from the Azure portal. This system aims to provide seamless operations between on-premises setups and the Azure cloud platform.

Azure Stack HCI offers a cloud-connected architecture that helps in unifying resource management. The product integrates with Azure Kubernetes Service through Azure Arc, enabling the execution of cloud-native applications on-site. Azure Stack HCI boasts features for optimizing performance when managing on-premises workloads. Additionally, it supports Azure Virtual Desktop on premises and presents itself as a flexible VDI platform. The Azure Arc – enabled Azure Stack HCI – ensures users can consolidate virtualized workloads and optimize processed using the cloud, especially when data compliance requires on-premises storage. For streamlined management, the product integrates with Windows Admin Center and can conduct fully scriptable management tasks via the Windows PowerShell framework.

What sets Azure Stack HCI apart is its flexible deployment options, including choosing from more than 25 hardware partners and integrations. The platform has built-in security and compliance features which are bolstered by Microsoft’s significant annual investment in cybersecurity R&D. Flexible pricing options are available, including the ability to activate cores as needed.

Azure logo
Cisco Logo

Cisco HyperFlex Systems is a hyperconverged solution designed to modernize infrastructure operations. The system allows users to construct infrastructure tailored to their hybrid needs, ensuring that data is accessible, whether in remote offices, retail locations, or other environments. Developed to address the rising diversity and distribution of applications in today’s digital ecosystem, Cisco HyperFlex, offers a convergence of power and simplicity suitable for any application, anywhere.

The Cisco HyperFlex Systems offers an application-centric platform that can reliably and securely deliver any application to any location and at any scale. It’s complemented by a cloud operating model that lets users manage and optimize their environment across on-premises, edge, and public cloud locations. The infrastructure is adaptable, adjusting to ever-evolving business needs, and promotes agility by supporting accelerated DevOps practices. Its design facilitates the deployment of a wide array of applications at various scales and locations, with the Cisco Intersight cloud operations platform ensuring comprehensive management of workloads wherever they are deployed.

One of Cisco HyperFlex Systems standout benefits is its potential to unlock hyperconvergence for an expansive array of workloads. Other features include an enterprise-grade application platform (that boasts a fully integrated Kubernetes environment), all-NVMe nodes are designed for optimal performance, a unique hardware data compression accelerator, and cloud-managed bare-metal deployment. Additionally, it offers GPU acceleration both in virtual desktop environments and for AI and ML inferencing applications. The Cisco HyperFlex platform is designed for efficient deployment, management, and scaling, integrating seamlessly into existing data centers to establish the bedrock of a hybrid-cloud strategy.

Cisco Logo
Datacore logo

DataCore SANsymphony is a software-defined storage solution designed for Storage Area Network (SAN) and Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) environments. This platform allows users to centralize, automate, and manage capacity provisioning as well as data placement across diverse storage setups, including SAN, DAS, HCI, and JBOD.

DataCore SANsymphony incorporates block-level storage virtualization technology coupled with a comprehensive suite of data services. Users can pool storage capacity across varied systems, control where data is stored, thereby ensuring optimal storage for critical data that meet business continuity and disaster recovery objectives. This feature also augments storage performance for demanding, resource intensive tasks. The platform provides features like RAM caching, parallel I/O processing, auto-tiering, and synchronous mirroring. Additionally, data recovery is automated with backups, snapshots, and continuous data protection, while thin-provisioning capacity ensures efficient space usage. For redundancy, the software offers asynchronous replication with automatic failover and resynchronization capabilities.

What distinguishes DataCore SANsymphony is its capacity to balance and load uniformly across hardware from different vendors and models, preventing any single point of failure. The platform emphasizes high availability through features like zero-touch failover and recovery. Users can predict and prevent storage bottlenecks through ML analytics, a feature which is available through the SANsymphony term license. The software offers flexibility to expanding and modernizing, without being bound to a specific device or manufacturer, promoting interoperability and streamlined management.

Datacore logo
Dell Technologies logo

Dell VxRail is a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution that utilizes proprietary VxRail HCI System Software. This product is designed to provide automation in deployment, full stack lifecycle management, and integration points across core, edge, and cloud environments. Developed in collaboration between Dell Technologies and VMware, the system emphasizes security at every stage, from hardware to software and throughout the development lifecycle.

Dell VxRail is anchored on PowerEdge server platforms and is exclusively co-engineered with VMware, making it the ideal solution for VMware vSAN and allowing deep integration across the VMware ecosystem. The infrastructure facilitates automated end-to-end lifecycle management and offers scalability in terms of capacity and performance. Users are presented with diverse options in compute, memory, storage, networking, and graphics to cater to a variety of applications and workloads. Furthermore, the product supports initiatives including data center modernization, hybrid cloud deployment, and the creation of Kubernetes platforms for developers.

One of Dell VxRail’s key benefits is its integration, optimization, testing, and validation process. The VxRail HCI System Software enhances VMware’s native capabilities, ensuring that deployment can be automated and operations run smoothly. The system undergoes rigorous testing with over 800,000 test hours per release. This commitment ensures clusters are consistently validated, optimizing user experience and minimizing risks.

Dell Technologies logo
Hewlett Packard Enterprise logo

HPE SimpliVity is a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution designed for a variety of workloads, including edge deployments, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and general virtualization. The platform is enhanced with the machine learning predictive analytics of HPE InfoSight. It combines AI-driven functionalities for self-management, self-optimization, and self-healing infrastructure operations.

HPE SimpliVity provides integrated data services, as well as offering built-in resiliency, backup, and disaster recovery. It uses always-on deduplication and compression technologies to reduce capacity utilization significantly. The platform has a flexible federation strategy that allows for scalability with up to 16 nodes per cluster and 96 nodes per federation. It also supports a mixed cluster environment, this allows it to combine HPE SimpliVity 380 at the core data center with other HPE SimpliVity models at the edge. The platform is managed via a global, VM-centric system that integrates artificial intelligence through HPE InfoSight, providing an organized method to manage and move virtual machines.

HPE SimpliVity differentiates itself with its AI-enhanced capabilities, courtesy of HPE InfoSight, offering users an optimized experience from data centers to edge deployments. Its operational efficiency focuses on reducing capacity requirements, enhancing application speed, and ensuring high availability even with simultaneous drive failures. With simple and automated operations, the system reduces the need for specialized IT expertise, streamlining tasks such as backup, cloning, or VM restoration.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise logo
Nutanix logo

Nutanix offers a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution designed to facilitate the delivery of applications and data across diverse scales and cloud environments. The platform focuses on helping businesses to streamline the procurement, deployment, and management of IT services.

Nutanix HCI provides additional storage and security features. The storage capabilities offer scalability and flexibility, allowing storage policies to be logically set in accordance with each workload. Additionally, users have a choice between multiple hypervisors including VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper‑V, or the integrated AHV. AHV’s integration further enhances virtualization, offering an optimized performance and reliability platform. The system also supports cloud-native Kubernetes, allowing for the creation and deployment of cloud-native applications on a unified infrastructure.

Nutanix HCI’s security features stand out due to their emphasis on micro-segmentation; this uses machine learning to configure and prevent malware spread. It also facilitates secure virtual networking, enabling robust multi-tenancy, and facilitating network stretch across cloud environments. Additionally, the platform offers centralized network management, providing an organized approach to manage network configurations across the HCI environment.

Nutanix logo
NetApp Logo

NetApp Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is an enterprise-scale hybrid cloud infrastructure that combines storage nodes and compute nodes in an adaptable design, accommodating the independent scaling of compute and storage resources. Depending on the selected model, the solution comes in either a single-rack or two-rack unit, simplifying the process of deploying VMs through the automated NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE). This product is orchestrated to meet the demands of a hybrid multi-cloud environment, guaranteeing performance and simplifying data service orchestration across various cloud setups.

What sets NetApp HCI apart is its disaggregated hybrid cloud infrastructure that allows it to adapt seamlessly, depending on workloads, without compromising on performance. The solution utilizes NetApp’s Hybrid Cloud Control for efficient system management and NetApp’s Element Plugin for vCenter Server provides an intuitive interface for the convenient management and monitoring of storage clusters. This collection of features positions NetApp HCI as a reliable solution for businesses aiming to optimize their hybrid multi-cloud operations with a focus on performance and adaptability.

NetApp Logo
Scale logo

The Scale Computing Platform is designed to streamline the operation of virtual machines (VMs) with an emphasis on simplicity, scalability, and manageability. It facilitates the seamless deployment of applications at the edge of computing networks, offering users a streamlined and effective means of operating their infrastructure. This platform aims to replace current infrastructure, promoting high availability for VMs, all while being housed in a user-friendly platform.

Key features of the Scale Computing Platform encompass the SC//Fleet Manager, a tool that simplifies the monitoring of the entire infrastructure’s health and SC//Hypercore, a foundational element for the deployment, operation, and surveillance of applications at the network’s edge. The SC//Hardware feature supports the smooth expansion of nodes from a few thousand to tens of thousands without requiring re-architecture. The platform also has non-disruptive upgrades, intelligent automation, self-healing capabilities, and centralized fleet monitoring and management. The result of these features is that it can diminish the total cost of ownership (TCO) while streamlining business processes.

What makes the Scale Computing Platform stand out is its commitment to business resilience and high availability. Its features work towards eliminating downtime, offering flexible options for data storage and application growth. By introducing redundant hardware components and automatic VM failover from a malfunctioning appliance, it ensures there is no single point of failure. The platform also offers multiple options for local, offsite, and cloud-based backups, thereby integrating smoothly with third-party cybersecurity solutions. This results in a comprehensive system that prioritizes protection and high availability for data and VMs. This platform acts as a robust solution for enterprises looking to optimize their IT infrastructure management and secure their business continuity strategies.

Scale logo
StarWind Logo

StarWind Virtual SAN is a software solution designed to address the storage needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Established in 2009, it is a cost-effective alternative to physical shared storage, with an emphasis on reducing both labor and financial expenses associated with IT operations. The platform takes an innovative approach that has garnered the trust of over 63,800 businesses globally, offering a digital solution that replaces traditional hardware for Storage Area Networks (SAN).

The platforms key features include high availability and fault tolerance; this ensures near 100% uptime, enhancing business continuity. Its self-healing capabilities (backed by AI-powered telemetry) contribute to maximum reliability, without necessitating user intervention. The product also facilitates virtual machine storage, offering advanced virtualization features like distributed resource scheduling and high availability. The StarWind Command Center facilitates streamlined management and monitoring of hyper-converged infrastructure components from a unified web-based user interface.

StarWind Logo
VMWare Logo

VMWare vSAN is an enterprise-class storage virtualization software designed for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and multi-cloud adaptability. This software facilitates powerful virtualization by extending its current VMware tools, allowing an integration with hypervisors and prominent public cloud providers. The recently introduced vSAN 8 with Express Storage Architecture focuses on enhancing performance and efficiency from connected storage devices.

vSAN provides users with the capability to optimize costs by leveraging the latest storage technology on universal servers, while enhancing IT productivity and offering centralized oversight from a single cloud console. Additionally, the software integrates with VMware Tanzu, which aids in managing both virtual machine and container-based applications. With the introduction of vSAN Max, users can attain petabyte-scale disaggregation, allowing storage to scale independently for improved resource utilization. Other notable features include integrated file services, enabling provisioning of a file share through a singular workflow, and a consistent storage policy-based management system.

What sets vSAN apart is its efficiency at cloud scale, allowing for independent scaling of compute and storage at petabyte levels. Its design is developer-friendly, allowing for easy storage consumption for large-scale app creation. The vSAN Data Persistence platform integrates cloud-native applications into the virtual framework. Furthermore, vSAN offers specialized features for business-critical applications such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), remote offices, disaster recovery, and modern application storage, positioning it as a comprehensive solution for varied storage requirements.

VMWare Logo
Top 10 Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Software