Comparing Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) Solutions: HPE Nimble Storage dHCI vs. Dell EMC VxRail

Today, there is an increased focus on data modernization as enterprises look for solutions that provide easier access without compromising security. Many organizations have turned to HCI but now there’s a new tool in the shed (dHCI) and organizations are trying to decide when to utilize HCI vs dHCI

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) unifies the traditional elements of the data center into one, creating an all-encompassing solution. By melding software and hardware that would otherwise be controlled independently, such as storage, compute, networking, and data management; HCI eliminates silos and creates streamlined management. Ultimately, the right HCI solution means increased IT efficiency, better storage management, and a greater ability to scale. With HCI, you can create private clouds, extend public clouds, and even create a hybrid cloud that is a mix of VM and container-based applications.

dHCI is another form of HCI—but it takes it one step further. dHCI stands for disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure. When considering dHCI vs HCI, the main difference is that dHCI incorporates artificial intelligence and allows users to scale storage as well as compute independently.

So how can you decide between the two? Let’s take a look.

HPE Nimble Storage dHCI vs. Dell EMC VxRail HCI

Both HPE Nimble Storage dHCI and Dell EMC VxRail HCI are designed to handle a wide variety of workloads. They are both HCI options that integrate with VMware and VMware vCenter plugins. Management and ease of use are both worlds above traditional infrastructure. However, that is essentially where the similarities end.

In general, when it comes to dHCI vs HCI, dHCI simply offers higher levels of storage, compute, automation, and analytics compared to what is available with HCI and in this case (VxRail).

Let’s take a look at some of the other comparisons below:

Rapid Deployment

Deployment methods vary between Dell EMC and HPE Nimble Storage. While they are both relatively quick, Dell EMC lacks some of the automation capabilities, making the process slightly less streamlined.

HPE Nimble Storage uses HPE InfoSight-based best practices for automated deployment, which cuts down on the tedious processes required for deployment and significantly decreases the potential for error.

It uses HPE Nimble Storage dHCI Stack Setup software to automate what would otherwise be manual processes. It then validates aspects of the HCI environment—so the enterprise’s IT team does not have to go through this work. Even an IT generalist can set up a dHCI cluster is less than 15 minutes. Bringing in additional servers to the environment can be done in about two minutes.

Dell EMC also uses VMware best practices, but it utilizes a questionnaire to guide its staff in pre-configuring VxRail before delivery. That means that a lot of the pre-installation configuration can be done before the software is ever implemented on site. What it lacks is the automation that HPE Infosight can deliver.

HCI vs dHCI Storage and Scaling

HPE Nimble Storage dHCI is unique in that it can independently scale compute and storage. The result is that users do not waste resources by having too much storage or lose time by having to upgrade manually from time to time.

If more storage capacity is needed, more storage shelves can be added. If better storage performance is required, more HPE Nimble Storage controllers can be added. If workloads require more compute, more HPE ProLiant servers can be added. It will even reuse existing Gen9 and Gen10 servers as dHCI compute nodes, creating more value for HPE ProLiant environments.

Dell EMC VxRail does not have the capability to automate storage needs. To add more storage, users have to add more VxRail nodes, which results in wasted compute and VMWare licensing. To add better storage performance or increase cluster compute, users also have to add more VxRail nodes. The same number and type of node are required for each node in the cluster. VxRail also does not have the ability to utilize existing servers.

Management and Upgrades

HPE Nimble Storage has “always-on” data services, including compression and inline deduplication. These operations occur automatically. It uses the VCenter plugin to conduct routine HCI management and automates upgrading all HCI software components—it even has intelligent 1-click upgrade capabilities.

Dell EMC VxRail also uses the vCenter plugin. It utilizes the VxRail Upgrade Manager to quickly and safely upgrade all of the VxRail infrastructure components. VxRail does not automatically address deduplication and compression—those features are disabled by default. Users can enable them, but it requires extra capacity per device to use these features. It also only applies to each disk group, which means that VxRail will not find duplicates outside of the 7-drive maximum of each disk group.

Efficiency and Resilience

HPE Nimble Storage boasts read latencies as low as 200 microseconds and write latencies of 100 microseconds. Writes are to NVDIMM (DRAM backed by flash memory), and then they are coalesced and optimized. Nearly all reads are from flash memory. Compute nodes do not provide storage, so they can be added or removed without having to adjust storage or move data.

Nimble Storage also offers a 73% usable vs raw capacity ratio and utilizes Triple+ RAID, which can handle up to three drive failures without total system failure, disruption, or data loss. HPE Nimble Storage also has a 99.9999% demonstrated and guaranteed availability.

Dell EMC VxRail needs seven nodes in a cluster to sustain a failure that would affect three drives. Five nodes are required to survive two failures, and three nodes must be present to address a single drive failure. If the system uses data reduction, then the loss of one drive ends up causing losses of all drives.

Ultimately, the Dell EMC VxRail functions in a way that forces resiliency and efficiency to compete with one another. Every increase in efficiency has to trade-off with resilience.

Predictive Analytics

HPE Nimble Storage uses HPE InfoSight, a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform that predicts and addresses problems before they arise. It analyzes more than 1.25 trillion data points collected from over 150,000 systems, starting in 2010. With all this information, it pinpoints helpful upgrades (and blacklists unsafe upgrades) and alerts users of specific risks and, in many cases, works to mitigate those risks.

Dell EMC VxRail uses ACE for its predictive analytics. ACE uses the VxRail data pool exclusively.


HPE Nimble Storage’s support is tied directly into HPE InfoSight. That means that customers can have access to a Level 3 expert immediately if that type of issue arises. Users can avoid having to go through Level 1 and Level 2 support when Level 3 is immediately necessary. The documented wait time on customer support is under one minute—and the person who answers the phone is also the person who will help resolve the problem.

By using InfoSight as the first line of support, HPE Nimble Storage prevents 86% of support issues, reducing support tickets by 73%. There is also roughly 85% less time spent on storage-related trouble tickets—and Level 3 support is 69% faster. For Level 3 support, the average time between the call and resolution is just 45 minutes.

Dell EMC VxRail has traditional three-level support available, unfortunately this often means wading through the first few levels before you can talk to someone who is knowledgeable about the product.

Finding the Best Fit for Enterprise Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Ultimately, both Dell EMC VxRail and HPE Nimble Storage dHCI provide enterprise-class HCI solutions for a full range of users. While Dell EMC VxRail is still leaps and bounds ahead of traditional data center infrastructures, HPE Nimble Storage goes a few steps further in terms of resiliency, analytics, and automated management and upgrades.

HPE Nimble Storage dHCI is available through HPE GreenLake for enterprises that want to use all of these functions on an “IT-as-a-service” basis. With extensive flexibility and scalability, dHCI might be the optimal solution for your organization. Learn more about all of ComportSecure’s infrastructure solutions, including dHCI, and contact us to discuss implementation.

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