Cloud-Style Disaggregated HCI (DHCI)

Hybrid Cloud thinking, from the outside in 


Three years ago, Datrium decided to build the first simple, low-cost software-defined DRaaS on public clouds with a matching infrastructure on prem. It’s available now – see Datrium DraaS. It was our first moonshot, and it was a massive undertaking. It’s the future of DRaaS, and you can buy it now.

Why was it hard? We had to build our data plane software layer on clouds with the elasticity and portability of other emerging implementers in cloud databases, for example, but we optimized it for general-purpose VMs, instances, and containers. It required a significant investment in two clouds (VMware Cloud on AWS and AWS itself) along with serverless administrative infrastructure.

It turns out this data plane is also the best way to run infrastructure on prem. Our on-prem system is DVX, a Disaggregated HCI (DHCI) system, supporting any third-party host with vSphere or bare-metal Linux (KVM or containers).


Public Cloud DR Spotlights Design Weaknesses of Traditional HCI

Data center evolution is never a straight line. The most flexible model at scale is clearly actual public clouds.

The best emerging software layers, like Snowflake for data warehousing, use host clusters with RAM or local flash for hot IO, and they use blob stores for data at rest and snapshots. Most of the early cloud adopters such as Netflix made similar choices.

By contrast, most infrastructure software and appliance providers for prem and MSPs only offer partial subsystems with friction, time, and bandwidth between them:

  • Backup software can suit blob stores, but it can’t handle primary workloads. Data has to be “restored” (rehydrated and migrated to a different store) instead of simply restarted, sometimes with VM conversions and egress charges for days of transmission. For DR, backup data is important for ransomware recovery, but recovery with migration is too slow.
  • Traditional HCI can port to use instance flash or block stores in the cloud, but not blob stores. The standard HCI model can be too expensive to lift and shift generally, and when it’s all-flash, it’s way too expensive for backup snaps. For DR, primary storage replicas are necessary for restart when there’s a power failure, for example, but it needs a separate backup partner due to all the problems noted above. 

In a data center outage and failover, DR requires both. It also needs WAN optimizations like dedupe-on-the-wire to avoid egress issues. Most deployers use the software equivalent of duct tape to get dissimilar subsystems to handle the lack of unified recovery from primary and backup, which can make it fragile and failure-prone in the face of change management. Datrium is different.


The right DHCI for scalability makes cloud simpler

If you’re keeping score on analyst category definitions, here’s the emerging taxonomy, showing what kind of offering Datrium DVX provides on prem.

  • HCI is clearly taking share from arrays, but it will only reach its market potential with newer DHCI implementations.
  • The key difference with DHCI is that app hosts are always separate from a pool of storage-only nodes. They only deploy in a two-node-type manner, making large clusters safer and enabling scaling to be more resource-efficient.
  • Datrium’s DHCI system, DVX, is the only DHCI system built on a blob store. This architecture allows it to have much more latitude to address hybrid cloud problems because it’s the same stack on both sides.

Other DHCI vendors use block arrays for their storage layer, so they can only go so far.


As a result, Datrium’s DVX is the only HCI or DHCI system that delivers these benefits:

  • Sets world records on speed at scale. Its benchmarks from 2017 are almost 4x the performance scale of its nearest DHCI competitor on performance, NetApp HCI tested in 2019
  • Offers Blanket Encryption of data in use, in flight, and at rest
  • Incorporates immutable snaps with full-featured VM backup policies and catalogs, supporting ransomware protection. vVols haven’t shown they can get there
  • Provides a peer system using a public cloud blob store for DRaaS and Backup as a service with predictable low costs

If you’d like to learn more about what makes Datrium DRaaS and DVX unique, drop us a line