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Why Scale Computing Thinks Intel NUCs Are A Big Deal For MSPs

'An MSP could easily deploy these and replace the existing, incumbent 1U server, and it's easy for them to manage, easy for them to stand up,' a Scale Computing product manager says of the vendor's new Intel NUC-based HE150 edge appliance.

Scale Computing thinks there's a compelling case to be made for eschewing traditional 1U servers in favor of Intel's tiny NUC computers for small-business hyperconverged infrastructure needs.

The Indianapolis-based hyperconverged and edge vendor is getting behind the Intel NUC mini PCs with one of its latest offerings, the HE150, a small, all-flash, NVMe storage-based compute appliance that can provide improved availability and power efficiency over 1U server offerings in edge environments when stacked in a three-node cluster.

[Related: Scale Computing And Acronis Creating New Host-Based Backup]

It's for those reasons, as well as the HE150's small form factor and ease of use, that Michael Lyon, product manager at Scale Computing, thinks the Intel NUC-based offering can be a big deal for managed services providers who are looking to scale down solutions for environments such as retail stores.

"The NUC made sense because it's so prevalent, and it's easily accessible, and it's commodity hardware," Lyon told CRN at The Channel Company's XChange 2020 event in San Antonio this week. "So for us, it made sense to work with Intel and to use that as our platform, just because it can address so many different challenges that MSPs and that service provider market has in finding ways to replace that traditional, incumbent 1U server, which is no longer the de facto form factor."

The HE150, which Scale Computing unveiled in December, has many features that are attractive to MSPs, such as highly available virtual machines that can be created in minutes, no single point of failure, multisite management and self-healing machine intelligence, according to the vendor. And it works seamlessly with Scale Computing's HC3 virtualization platform.

"An MSP could easily deploy these and replace the existing, incumbent 1U server, and it's easy for them to manage, easy for them to stand up," Lyon said.

The small size of the Intel NUC—which can measure 1.4 x 4.6 x 4.4 inches depending on the model—means the HE150 can be more flexible than traditional server-based hyperconverged offerings in where they can be placed, the product manager added.

"Environmentally, we're able to operate in much smaller environments. We can operate under a desk, in the closet. You don't have to deal with cooling challenges," he said. "Even with Power over Ethernet, you can run those without dedicated power."

One Scale Computing partner who sees a lot of potential in the Intel NUC-based HE150 appliance is Rodd Ahrenstorff, partner at Rapid City, S.D.-based KT Connections, which is receiving a three-node demo cluster from the vendor for demonstration purposes.

"One of the challenges with any virtualization product is doing demonstrations for customers," he told CRN. "It's kind of a nebulous concept to demonstrate high availability and recovery after device fails and things like that, so they are sending us a three-node cluster to do exactly that."

Ahrenstorff said one of the big benefits of the HE150 is how it works seamlessly with Scale Computing's other offerings, providing the same functionality, maintenance, support team and user interface.

"It's a huge value to have the scalability of their product line go from the Intel NUC that might run one or two VMs—I can deploy that at a small business or distributed business—all the way up to their HE5000 line, which is data center-type infrastructure," he said.

The high availability of a three-node HE150 cluster also makes it attractive, Ahrenstorff added.

"On a single server, if you were to replace that with a three-node cluster from Scale [Computing] using their little Intel NUC HE150 models, you have just now provided high availability that customers are not going to get [elsewhere]," he said.

But perhaps most importantly, Ahrenstorff said, it's the ease of use that Scale Computing offers across its entire portfolio that makes HE150 another reason to work with the vendor.

"Scale Computing is the first product that we implemented and sold without going to any training. It's that easy to use. Seriously," he said, laughing. "In 25-plus years of doing IT, this is the first product we've ever done that we didn't send people off to training for."

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