During a Tuesday keynote, VMware executives said more than 15,000 customers use its HCI stack, which is the top-selling hyperconverged software, according to IDC. Half of all global 2,000 companies use VMware’s HCI, and these customers include T-Mobile, Honeywell, Samsung, Symantec, and Telefonica, the company claims.
A day earlier VMware announced a new release of vSAN, its software-defined storage that’s the foundation of its HCI. The update allows admins to spin up HCI clusters faster. And it also said future vSAN software releases will be synchronized with sister brand Dell EMC’s VxRail updates. VxRail appliances are turnkey HCI systems jointly engineered by Dell EMC and VMware.
“We’re taking HCI into the cloud and to the edge,” said Yanbing Li, SVP and GM for storage and availability at VMware, during the HCI keynote. The software runs in two public clouds — Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM Cloud. And on Monday VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger announced a tech preview of a new HCI product called Project Dimension. It’s a hyperconverged infrastructure appliance for edge locations.
“It’s also becoming an architecture for taking the workloads into hybrid cloud,” Li added, citing VMware Cloud on AWS and the company’s 500-plus cloud partners. “No other hyperconverged player has a proven HCI stack, no other hyperconverged player has a multi-cloud story that’s proven. And no other has an edge stack.”
But other vendors including Nutanix, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and Pivot3 are all working to build similar hyperconverged offerings — and gunning for VMware and Dell EMC’s No. 1 position in the hot HCI market.
At VMware this week, two of these vendors announced the next phase in their HCI stories.
On Tuesday at VMworld, Cisco and data management software provider Veeam expanded their partnership on HyperFlex, Cisco’s HCI product. IDC’s most recent numbers put Cisco and HPE in a statistical tie for third place among HCI vendors
While Veeam’s Hyper-Availability platform (this is the company’s backup and disaster recovery software) previously integrated with Cisco HyperFlex, the Veeam software now runs on top of Cisco’s HCI. So instead of using HyperFlex for primary workloads and backing them up onto a secondary storage device, customers can now do both on the same platform.
“We’re the first and only data protection provider Cisco is working with,” said Ken Ringdah, VP for global alliance architecture at Veeam. “We’re taking the Veeam software, putting it on HyperFlex, and bringing it to market in a single Cisco sku. It gives us much broader appeal because from a customer perspective, they can get their primary and secondary storage from Cisco and Veeam.”
Veeam has technology integrations with the other major HCI vendors including VMware, Dell EMC, Nutanix, and HPE. “But in all those cases we’re protecting the primary workloads,” Ringdah said. “What Cisco HyperFlex is doing differently: they are choosing to take their hyperconverged solution and go after the secondary storage market.”
The partnership makes data protection simpler by giving customers a single platform for hyperconverged workloads and backup, says Cisco’s Siva Sivakumar.
“Secondary storage is the super set, and data protection is a space within secondary storage,” he said. “I would call this more of a data protection, scale-out, appliance-like experience. This helps customers wanting to consolidate their backups into a larger, more scalable system.”
It’s not competing against secondary storage players like Cohesity and Rubrik — at least not yet.
“We’re not a direct compete,” Sivakumar said. “The way we see the roadmap on this, certainly the first element could be a capacity expansion to try to address larger capacity. And then another area we have plans around is more simplified automation, a more simplified deployment experience.”
This first product announcement is “phase zero” of the partnership, Ringdah said. Incorporating Cisco Intersight, the cloud-based infrastructure management tool for Cisco UCS and HyperFlex, is up next. “There’s certainly a lot of synergy and a lot more we can do moving up into Intersight and offering more of that deployment and management simplicity,” he added.
Pivot3’s Edge HCI
Also at VMworld, Pivot3 launched a ruggedized hybrid cloud device. It targets the infrastructure needs of defense, intelligence, and other extreme operations at what it calls “the tactical edge.”
In March, the vendor rolled out a hyperconverged infrastructure product specifically designed for remote and branch offices (ROBO) and network-edge locations.
The new ruggedized HCI device is optimized for analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure, and IoT uses cases to enable customers like the military to process and act on data immediately in the field.
Additionally, in an announcement with Lenovo, Pivot3 said the two companies are developing edge products designed for mission-critical smart city security. These are systems that collate information from an array of city sensors and databases combined with video data and analytics including facial recognition, behavioral analysis, license plate recognition, and other intelligence. Pivot3’s HCI software will power the systems, which will run on Lenovo hardware.
Not to Be Left Out…
And while these didn’t happen at VMworld, No. 2 HCI vendor Nutanix and No. 3 HPE also made news this week with their hyperconverged offerings.
On an earnings call with investors, HPE CEO Antonio Neri said his company’s HCI business segment grew over 130 percent year over year and reached an annual run rate of more than $1 billion during fiscal 2018 third quarter.
And Nutanix today said its hypervisor and HCI platform have met SAP’s criteria for running production SAP HANA deployments. This will allow businesses to run SAP’s in-memory relational database platform on Nutanix’s stack.
Photo: VMware’s Yanbing Li, SVP and GM, Storage and Availability, and John Gilmartin, GM and VP Integrated Systems, on stage during an HCI keynote at VMworld.