A basic four-node cluster, with three years of 24-7 customer support, virtualization software licensing, and replication capabilities, would cost around $30,000. Buying those parts piece by piece could cost about $75,000, said Jeff Ready, CEO of Scale Computing.

With the HC3 system, “you’ve collapsed the architecture, and you get something more resilient and more portable. So if something fails, you’re not adding another box,” said Jefferson Davis, technology and information systems manager for Standard School District in Bakersfield, Calif., and a beta tester for the product.

He noted that schools not only save money because they don’t need to buy as many components, but “on top of it, the ease of management of that deployment goes up by orders of magnitude.”

Because HC3 runs multiple servers but only requires the administration responsibilities of a single-server network, “you don’t need to hire people; you don’t need to take classes; you don’t need to become an expert in virtualization technology, storage subsystems, and clustering,” Ready said. “You just stick to IT fundamentals that any administrator knows how to do.”

From the main user interface, an IT administrator can see an overview of all the nodes in the school’s cluster. By clicking on a single node, he or she can see more detailed information about which applications that node is running and how much memory it is using.

As Scale Computing CTO Jason Collier demonstrated in an online presentation, installing and provisioning a virtual server can take under ten minutes. The newly created server goes on whichever node in the cluster has the most available RAM.

The administrator also can rearrange which applications go into which particular storage pools in the cluster.

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