Whatever Hyperconvergence Is or Isn’t, It Is Hot!

is expanding its portfolio with the 2U, 4-node ConvergedSystem 250-HC StoreVirtual (CS250) appliance. Designed for and remote office productivity, as well as offering an easy path to hybrid cloud, it is ‘configurable in minutes for nearly half the price of competitive systems.’

“We’re focused on bringing more choice to our customers,” said Rob Strechay, Director, Product Marketing and Management, Software-Defined Storage, HP. The 4-node appliance (the starting price initially quoted is apparently now under review) will ship on August 17, while the 3-node CS250 with Foundation Carepack and VMware vSphere Enterprise, starting at a list price of $121,483, will ship on September 28, he told IT Trends & Analysis.

Back in December the company unveiled its Helion CloudSystem CS200-Hyper-Converged StoreVirtual and ConvergedSystem 700. In June it introduced its next CI, the Composable Infrastructure (API), intended to support a new class of infrastructure that will be “composable”, built to fit the specific needs of an application or workload that will run on it.

While HP’s initial foray into HCI nine months ago exceeded expectations, Strechay said customers indicated they were looking for “simpler, lower-cost solutions that had better performance”. The CS 250 allows customers to tailor the system with a choice of up to 96 processing cores, a mix of SSD and SAS disk drives, and up to 2TB of memory per 4-node appliance, double that of previous generations, and includes three 4TB StoreVirtual Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) licenses delivers multi-site business continuity by leveraging the system’s ability to flexibly replicate data to any other HP StoreVirtual-based solution.

The appliance is pre-configured for vSphere 5.5 or 6.0 and HP OneView InstantOn, with daily management from VMware vCenter via the HP OneView for VMware vCenter plug-in. The system will also be cloud-ready, at least for HP’s Helion, said Strechay.

While definitions vary, hyperconvergence appears to be a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor, and enabling cloud-like economics and scale without compromising the performance, reliability, and availability (i.e. and SimpliVity). Unlike HCI, HP’s CI, or converged infrastructure – not to be confused with HP’s other CI, composable infrastructure – is a mix of compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies – from two or more vendors (i.e. and EMC).

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for infrastructure,” said Manish Goel, SVP and GM, HP Storage, in a prepared statement. “This is why HP continues to offer flexible and interoperable solutions based on HP StoreVirtual technology to help our customers lower costs independent of the hypervisors and hardware platforms they choose. Hyper-convergence is simply the next step in HP’s evolution of the software-defined data center.”

After HP’s new take – or at least expansion to its CI acronyms – announced its latest hyperconverged solution, the PowerEdge C6320, what it called’ the right mix of cost-efficient compute and storage in a compact, 2U chassis for HPC (high-performance computing) and hyper-converged solutions and appliances.’ Using IDC data, it said the converged systems market is expected to experience a 59.7% CAGR from 2014 to 2019, generating more than $3.9 billion in total sales.

IDC puts the hyperconverged segment at $806.8 million in sales this year, growing to $1.57 billion in 2016. The hyperconverged platforms market will grow at a five-year CAGR of 71.6% from 2013 to 2018 as customer demand for a more streamlined virtualization experience increases, according to a recent report by Technology Business Research. It predicts that just the US addressable market will be worth $10.6 billion over the next 12 months.

“IT customers are smashing into roadblocks with traditional server and storage infrastructure. But they are finding quickly that there are alternatives that provide improved efficiency and better management,” said TBR’s Christian Perry, principal analyst and data center practice manager.
“Hyperconverged platforms take converged infrastructure to the next level of streamlined, virtualized solutions, and customers are adopting for a wide range of use cases,” said Perry. “These initial deployments represent tremendous opportunity for vendors across hardware, software and services.”

Huge growth, but it’s on a very small base. Taken individually, the components that make up the hyperconverged and/or converged market represent a much bigger total market, albeit, with a much smaller CAGR:

-server revenues were up a very healthy 17.2% in the first quarter, to $12.8 billion, on a unit increase of 8.4%;

-enterprise storage revenue grew 6.8% to $8.8 billion on a capacity shipment surge up 41.1% in Q1;

-Ethernet switch and router sales inched up 1.4% year-over-year in Q1 – but dropped 13.8% quarter-over-quarter; and,

-total IT spending is projected to be down 5.5% this year, to $3.5 trillion.

Enterprise Strategy Group has been following the converged market for some time, and reported in December that more than 50% of survey respondents said they currently or plan to utilize a converged solution in their IT environments. ‘We’re not at all surprised, since they make infrastructure tasks significantly easier for IT pros – easier to plan, easier to configure, and easier to grow,’ blogged ESG Lab Engineer Mike Leone. ‘By deploying a converged solution, companies have realized gains across all facets of IT, from faster deployment times and improved service and support, to ease of management and improved TCO, scalability, and agility.’

Two sponsored reports from ActualTech Media, released in June, provide a more current analysis of the HCI market. Addressing small, medium and enterprise markets in North America and Europe, the SimpliVity-sponsored report concluded:

-hyperconverged infrastructure is still in its infancy. Those currently adopting hyperconverged infrastructure is a small percentage of the overall, and the outlook is that organizations will adopt such solutions over the next 24 to 36 months;

-VDI remains a key use case for . VDI was a significant driver for the adoption of hyperconverged infrastructure, possibly driven by the catalyst event of a Windows desktop upgrade a few years ago. Today, however, other workloads are just as important;

-companies are desperately seeking ways to simplify IT and reduce costs. Despite an increase in IT spending this year, many organizations still strive to reduce spending— both in capital expenditures by investing in technology that provides a healthy ROI, and in operational expenditures;

-many IT professionals have not fully grasped the concept of hyperconvergence. “Why would we go back to direct-attached storage?” is a common question with skeptics;

-hardware refresh is not a huge driver for hyperconverged infrastructure for large organizations. This is likely due to the fact that refresh cycles occur within functional silos in large enterprises keeping IT professionals focused on only what they know, as well as the existence of well-established processes for technology replacement;

-rapid virtual machine provisioning is an important outcome. Larger companies, likely faced with a greater volume of workloads to provision and deploy, look to accelerate deployment. This is less of a factor for smaller organizations;

-although a factor, dissatisfaction with legacy storage is not a major one. However, while satisfaction with legacy storage may not be a factor, it is likely that these same organizations have concerns around overall operational efficiency in IT, the category in which legacy storage management might fall; and,

-data center consolidation is a significant priority for larger companies. Again, this is more than likely born from a desire to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in IT.

The second study, sponsored by Scale Computing, addressed just the midmarket, and provided the following highlights:

-scaling the infrastructure – both servers/compute and storage – remains a challenge for 34% of respondents, and 24% cited infrastructure concerns including managing complexity, troubleshooting, and keeping infrastructure current;

-50% reporting that half or more of their servers are virtualized, and the other 50 percent saying less than half are; and,

-VMware vSphere is the most popular hypervisor in place, with 46%, followed by Microsoft Hyper-V at 25%, and all others combined representing 29%.

So it’s no surprise that most vendors – new and established – are interested. Nutanix generated 52% of all hyperconverged revenue during the first half of 2014, but the list of vendors chasing this market also includes: Atlantis Computing; ; Hitachi Data Systems; ; NetApp; Supermicro; and VMware.

According to VCE – the Cisco/EMC lovechild now majority owned by EMC – it is becoming the “go-to” vendor in converged infrastructure. “Six years ago there were two companies talking about converged infrastructure, us and HP,” said Todd Pavone, EVP of product development and strategy at VCE. “Today, it’s everybody.”

Paul Miller, HP’s VP of marketing, converged data center infrastructure, said it is the converged market leader. “HP continues to lead the market in innovation and to set the vision for the next generation of convergence.”

SimpliVity is addressing a much larger market opportunity than converged infrastructure, said George Hope, VP of global channel sales at SimpliVity. “Rather than converging just storage and compute, we virtualize all IT below the hypervisor into a simple 2U building block of x86 shareable resources. The market is clearly taking off; SimpliVity’s own bookings grew 250% year over year as of June 30.”

Although HP stated the CS 250 is designed for virtual desktops, remote office productivity and as an easy path to hybrid cloud, most of the interest for its predecessor was in remote and branch offices (ROBOs), said Strechay. “What we’ve been seeing… across different uses cases, our customers are buying because of the 5x9s…”

Looking ahead, he said the company will continue to focus on giving customers greater flexibility within the 2U form factor. HP will continue to “increase the ease of management… and we’re really working toward the composable infrastructure that hyperconverged fits into.”

Author: Steve Wexler

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