I’m extremely proud to report that Cisco’s HyperFlex product has been named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI). I can’t say enough about the hard work that has gone into HyperFlex since we entered the HCI market in 2016. It has been an exciting time as we raced from launch to leader in this space in less than three years.

Our Journey from Launch to Leader in under Three Years

Cisco introduced HyperFlex and redefined the HCI market in 2016, starting with early releases that addressed the gaps of first generation HCI offerings to better modernize core data center operations. Since that time, we have continued to deliver best-in-class innovations to make HyperFlex a future proof platform for our customers’ changing needs.

HyperFlex at the core cloud and edge

Even though Cisco was not the first to offer an HCI solution, HyperFlex is now considered industry-leading and one that is part of a completely unified end-to-end data center portfolio. It was also designed from the ground up to deliver top-notch simplicity and performance—driven by codesigning HCI software, hardware, and management.

Innovating for the Future

The Evolution of HyperFlex

When we were developing a strategy to enter the HCI market, HCI software vendors at the time were trying to develop market scale for their first generation software stacks. However, we knew that a tighter integration between hardware and software was key. We also knew that delivering the right HCI platform would require writing the distributed file system from scratch. We chose to acquire Springpath, and build our foundation on the Springpath Data Platform (now HX Data Platform), which is a distributed file system and was developed from the ground up specifically for HCI.

HyperFlex powers any app in any cloud at any scale

Furthermore, we codesigned the data platform with the hardware and networking fabric. Competitive offerings utilized data locality to overcome a lack of networking integration capable of high east-west traffic. In contrast, the Springpath Data Platform provides a flash optimized single unified pool of compute and storage resources, spread evenly across all the nodes. This leads to better performance, capacity and data management, and enables it to meet the demands of a broader range of enterprise applications. Additionally, our architecture delivers adaptive scaling capabilities, allowing customers to grow compute, caching, or capacity resources independently, depending upon their changing business needs.

But that’s just part of the story. When we launched UCS in 2009, we disrupted the server market by offering a solution that seamlessly integrated x86 architecture and networking into a single unified system. As a result, UCS has emerged as a leading compute solution, with 65K+ customers worldwide who benefit from increased productivity, reduced total cost of ownership, and simplified scalability. UCS, including its Unified Fabric that delivers high east-west bandwidth and its unified policy-based management, was the ideal platform for the distributed architecture of the HX Data Platform. This also means that it can easily integrate into existing environments to simplify migration, thus ensuring that HCI does not become its own silo in the data center.

Co-engineering the HX Data Platform and our industry-leading Cisco UCS platform, resulted in the launch of HyperFlex in 2016 and brought to market the first fully engineered HCI platform that integrated all layers of the data center stack.

Now organizations could not only realize the benefits of HCI for VDI, test and dev, and other tier 2 workloads, but also benefit from an HCI solution that offered better operational simplicity, much greater performance, and highly flexible and policy-driven scaling to enable mission critical workloads like SAP HANA.

A Platform to Simplify Your Future

HyperFlex provides our customers with a competitive advantage by delivering immediate benefits to traditional data center workloads, simplified multicloud operations, and a platform for edge computing, all while serving as a future-ready platform for the technology changes ahead. These changes are arriving at a scale that can quickly become daunting to manage—without tight integration throughout the solution stack. However, the foundation we have built with HyperFlex as a single, integrated platform has allowed us to simplify the adoption of emerging technologies.

HyperFlex Platform to Simplify Your Future

A Platform for the Multicloud World

Evolving application architectures and technologies means that core workloads are no longer static to the core data center. It’s a mutlicloud world with a growing mix of applications that run across multiple cloud environments, including new SaaS versions of applications as well as containerized workloads.

Cisco HyperFlex Platform for Multicloud

Related Cloud services all have different APIs, and business units want to run different clouds for various reasons to efficiently manage this environment. In response, we launched HyperFlex version 3.0 to make HyperFlex a true platform for multicloud that supports distributed infrastructure of multiple public clouds, microservices, and SaaS solutions. Along with this, the Cisco HyperFlex Platform for Multicloud simplifies operations to give you everything you need to securely deploy your applications anywhere via a cloud agnostic platform that translates the application profile into a deployable blueprint for each cloud.

A Platform for Edge Computing

Cloud applications and data flows are not the only challenges that IT organizations are facing in a distributed ecosystem. Sources of data are changing quickly and are increasingly located at the edge. This carries an increased need to store, process, and handle data at the edge. Deploying compute, storage, and related infrastructure (like networking and SDWAN) across multiple sites, at scale, is a difficult challenge and one that we have solved in an elegant fashion with our newly announced HyperFlex Anywhere solution.

A Platform to Simplify IT Operations

The distributed data center can be a complex ecosystem and prove overwhelming to current IT operations, thus driving the need for AI assisted operations. AI driven operations (AIOp’s) is coming and Cisco Intersight, as the management plane for HyperFlex, will serve at the foundation for AI driven end-to-end IT management. Additionally, Cisco tools for application performance monitoring, as well as intelligent workload placement, allow you to spend less time managing your infrastructure and more time realizing the cost benefits from running your applications in the right location and with optimal placement.

Containerized cloud-native applications are growing rapidly, with Gartner predicting that by 2020 more than 50% of enterprises will run mission critical containerized cloud native applications. This gives organizations the added ability to develop and deploy applications anywhere they want. To that end, we recently announced the Cisco Hybrid Cloud Platform for Google Cloud, which uses HyperFlex as the private cloud foundation to deliver native Kubernetes for hybrid applications, as well as the first Hybrid Solution for Kubernetes on Amazon Web Services, which reduces complexity and costs for IT operations. This enables the management of Kubernetes on-premises and on AWS with a simplified common set of tools.

As data grows and analytical techniques get democratized, Machine Learning and containerized workloads promise to revolutionize the way IT creates value. Further, Deep Learning, combined with AI inferencing, can now deliver real economic benefits from your data. Deploying these technologies can be complex due to applications requiring various processors, form factors, and GPU support. While HyperFlex can serve as the foundation of a Machine Learning platform, Cisco’s Unified Fabric expands this capability through seamless integration across our UCS server portfolio to simplify deployment with non-siloed operations.

Leading for our Customers

We’ve come a long way since HyperFlex was first released. And although the demands placed on HCI have changed, our philosophy of delivering a complete end-to-end appliance—which tightly integrates software and hardware that is faster to deploy, delivers value to our customers quicker, and out performs anything on the market—remains the same.

Being named by Gartner as a leader in HCI in 2018 certainly shows we are headed in the right direction. But from our point of view, we are just getting started.

Read the Report: November 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure


To learn more about Cisco HyperFlex

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Kaustubh Das

SVP and General Manager

Cloud & Compute