Cisco HyperFlex’s some data center muscle, fuels HCI war

It’s safe to say that the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) market has heated up in a big way. In September 2016, Nutanix went public and had a fantastic IPO. Since then, the company’s stock has slid due in part to increased competition from the likes of Dell-EMC, which recently extended its HCI products to private clouds, and HP Enterprise, which acquired SimpliVity earlier this year.

Today it is Cisco’s turn to make some HCI noise by introducing new capabilities for its HyperFlex 2.5 Systems that triples the VM density of its first-generation products. The performance capabilities and comparison to competitors are backed up in an Enterprise Strategy Group report. I’m often dismissive of some of these testing reports because the results can be skewed depending on how the tests are set up, but I have a great deal of respect for the good folks over at ESG, so I’ll take these at face value. 

HyperFlex 2.5 features

The newest version of HyperFlex is loaded with technology to address the changing needs of HCI. The technology has gone through its initial wave of experimenting, and it’s becoming more mainstream. That means customers need higher performance, better security and manageability. Cisco addressed each of those with the following features: 

  • High-capacity all-flash nodes and support for 40 Gig UCS fabric networking.
  • HyperFlex Connect is a new management interface featuring a standalone HTML5 interface, dynamic systems analytics and cluster orchestration. Connect can also interface with other solutions via APIs.
  • Enterprise-grade data management, protection and security for security-conscious verticals and sensitive workloads. You also get native replication to protect applications and data-at-rest security options using self-encrypting drives.
  • Integration with Cisco ONE Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) for hybrid cloud mobility.
  • Metering and workload automation via self-service catalogs. These are enabled through the integration of ECS UCS Director that allows IaaS orchestration for private and hybrid services.

Cisco’s HyperFlex product is an OEM of HCI start-up Springpath. I know many channel partners and customers that would like Cisco to acquire the company. In fact, in December 2016 I predicted Cisco would purchase Springpath this year. But after having more time to think about the company and the market, it’s probably better left as a standalone company for now. 

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