Red Hat today rolled out a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform based on OpenStack compute and Ceph storage. The new product targets service providers looking to deploy virtual network functions (VNFs) and 5G technologies on top of open source software.
Launched at this week’s OpenStack Summit, the Red Hat Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Cloud combines Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 and Red Hat Ceph Storage 3 into one product. Red Hat says it is the largest contributor to both open source projects.
The company’s new open platform improves application portability between on-premises data centers, public clouds, and the edge, said Irshad Raihan, senior manager of product marketing at Red Hat. In addition, nodes in an OpenStack deployment are interoperable, which means customers can use hyperconverged and non-hyperconverged nodes across their networks and at the edge.
“It’s targeted primarily at a telco audience — there’s a lot of affinity between telcos and OpenStack,” Raihan said. “But also general enterprises can benefit, too.”
Those benefits include all of the usual reasons companies choose hyperconverged systems. Namely, they are easier to deploy and manage. And they usually provide lower operating and capital costs by using commodity hardware and enabling flexible, scalable compute and storage.
But Red Hat’s HCI platform has some benefits unique to it: Application portability across the hybrid cloud, openness, flexibility to use hyperconverged and non-hyperconverged nodes across the network.
Raihan admits that Red Hat arrived late to HCI.
“The hyperconverged market is a mature market, and we are not entering this market to take out the incumbents,” he said. “At the same time, the value of Red Hat is the open platform. We don’t own a compute platform, so we can play Switzerland and truly do what’s best for customers.”
Hyperconverged is a mature — and highly competitive — market. Overall HCI systems sales grew 69.4 percent year over year to $1.25 billion during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to IDC’s most recent numbers. It’s the fastest growing data center technology, and it seems everyone wants a piece of this pie.
Dell EMC, VMware, and Nutanix are the top-selling HCI vendors by revenue, according to IDC. But other companies including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cisco are fighting to boost their market share. Just last week HPE reached a deal to acquire Plexxi and said its first order of business will be to weave Plexxi’s software-defined data fabric networking technology into its HCI.
Is HCI’s Future Open Source?
“We are not here to be the next Nutanix killer,” Raihan said, before making what he described as a “bold claim.”
“In the long-term, the word ‘hyperconverged’ is going to go out of the vocabulary because that’s going to be the way that most software is delivered,” he said. “And the way customers think about hyperconverged is changing rapidly. Customers want a lot of flexibility, and we’re seeing the rejection of the closed model.”
Customers used to tell him that they had to make the business case for using open source software. Now, they have to justify using anything other than open source, Raihan said. “That’s driving the move away from the traditional hyperconverged model with proprietary vendors,” he said. “The other piece is we are being very surgical about looking at use cases.”
5G Use Case
For example, Red Hat’s first HCI product launched in June 2017 focused on remote office/branch office deployments and mobile edge computing. It combined Red Hat Virtualization and Red Hat Gluster Storage. “VDI was one use case we steered clear from,” Raihan said.
The new HCI product, on the other hand, focuses on telcos and communication service providers rolling out 5G. HCI fits well with 5G and other next-generation requirements for the network edge, Raihan added.
“5G is sort of the same story [as HCI],” he said. “You want cost control, something with a smaller footprint that is easy to manage. All of those things essentially define a hyperconverged solution. We see IoT and analytics moving out to the edge, and it’s one more reason for hyperconverged at the edge.”
Telcos Love OpenStack
Red Hat’s new OpenStack HCI product targeting telcos comes a day after VMware moved its Integrated OpenStack product — for both enterprises and service providers — under its Telco NFV Group.
In explaining the move, Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of solutions for VMware’s Telco NFV Group, echoed Raihan’s statements about telcos preferring OpenStack. “There is much stronger focus on OpenStack in the telco world,” Di Piazza said. “With that said, the world is very wide, so you can’t say enterprises don’t use it.”