Enterprise Vendors Expanding in the HCI Market

By , Tuesday, October 10th 2017

Categories: Analyst Blogs

Tags: blog, Cisco, Eric Slack, HCI, HPE, hyperconverged, IBM, infrastructure, NetApp,


The Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) market has been shifting towards the larger, established storage and server vendors for the past year or more. HPE bought SimpliVity earlier in 2017, Cisco is expanding its presence, and IBM and NetApp are coming out with their own HCI products. We’ll talk about those developments in this blog.


With the acquisition of SimpliVity, HPE has replaced its legacy HCI line, built on the StoreVirtual VSA software, with the HPE SimpliVity 380 that runs the OmniStack software. This gives HPE a stronger solution in the HCI market, and as a hardware manufacturer, HPE has the resources and expertise to support the special PCIe card that SimpliVity systems use to off-load their data ingest and reduction process.

The HPE SimpliVity 380 runs on HPE’s DL380 server platform, currently the Gen 10 model. This single-node server was released in three resource configurations earlier in the year, “Small, Medium, and Large”, with all-flash exclusively. HPE has recently released an “XS” (extra small) model, targeted at smaller or remote offices, departments, etc., that starts at just under 5TB raw capacity (5x 960GB SSDs) and offers lower software licensing costs. Like the other configurations, the Gen 10 XS comes with Intel’s new scalable processors (also known as “Purley”) in single and dual CPU options.


IBM has joined the HCI market as well, albeit in an OEM relationship with Nutanix. They recently announced this partnership that will put the Acropolis OS on IBM Power System servers, the first HCI to be offered on a non-Intel platform. The IBM HCI will support the AHV hypervisor (Nutanix’s KVM derivative) and most of the current Acropolis feature set. A release date has not been announced.

Nutanix is promoting this as another example of their flexibility story, as they add IBM to Dell EMC, Lenovo, Cisco and most recently HPE, as platform options. While interesting, it’s probably not a surprise that IBM decided to jump into the HCI market with Nutanix, instead of buying one of the remaining independents or developing their own HCI software stack. Nutanix is the industry leader with arguably the most complete HCI software, and its partnership with Dell EMC indicates this can be a successful OEM solution.

Dell EMC has recently re-positioned their XC product as an SMB / mid-market solution, and has focused its enterprise business on the VxRail product. With IBM, Nutanix gets another entre into the enterprise data center.


NetApp, which bought SolidFire in early 2016, is this month releasing its own HCI as well. Appropriately called “NetApp HCI” this product runs the SolidFire Element OS on standard Intel x86 servers with all-flash storage. But, the NetApp HCI has a different architecture than other HCIs. It comes with Storage Nodes and Compute Nodes, each configured in 1U, half-rack modules that can be mixed and matched in a 2U, full-rack chassis. This disaggregation may help address the issue of inflexible resource scaling that HCIs have had. The SolidFire OS also brings an architecture that was designed for flash to an HCI product with features like advanced QoS that have helped establish SolidFire in the enterprise storage systems space.


Cisco released its HyperFlex HCI last year and has been evolving its SpringPath software stack, increasing performance, adding features and offering model options, including a HyperFlex “Edge” model. This is essentially a lower cost configuration of the 1U HX220 with a three-node and three-drive minimum, no fabric interconnects and a single-CPU option. Cisco also added to their management capabilities with Intersight.

Intersight is a cloud-based management and analytics platform that provides global health monitoring and policy-based orchestration across a multi-site HyperFlex environment. Intersight collects system telemetry from the global HyperFlex installed base to compile operational baselines and create the foundation for predictive analytics. It also provides simplified setup and firmware updates, and has the ability to launch element managers, such as UCS Manager, IMC and HyperFlex Connect.

As the HCI market matures we’re seeing more traditional storage vendors join the market or expand their presence. HCI, which was initially limited to VDI and a few specific use cases, is enjoying more acceptance in the enterprise-level companies, which have a decided preference for enterprise-level suppliers as well. For more information, please contact the Evaluator Group for a copy of the newest Research Study “HCI in the Enterprise”.


The amount and diversity of technology available in infrastructure products can be overwhelming for those trying to evaluate appropriate solutions. In this blog we discuss pertinent topics to help IT professionals think outside the checkbox of features and functionality.


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