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Hyperconverged Infrastructure – Industry Analyst Insights

- March 30, 2016 - 0 Comments

Industry analyst firm, Gartner, expects the market for hyperconverged infrastructure to reach $5 billion by 2019. We’ve pulled together insights from a variety of analyst firms to explain why many customers are interested in this technology.

Customer Benefits Create Demand

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and software defined infrastructure in general address a wide range of customer demands. These technologies have been evolving for several years. They have reached a level of maturity that provide customers compelling reasons to transition from traditional infrastructure and the supporting operational processes. HCI fits into a broader product portfolio providing some distinct advantages. According to a recent blog from analyst firm Forrester Research:

Hyperconverged platforms architect compute, storage and network together as a complete system (whether physical or virtual). Blending ease of use, scalability, and integration into easily consumable webscale building blocks which allows infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders to spend less time engineering and tuning fundamental infrastructure and more time putting capabilities in the hands of their firms’ customers. (“2016 – Hyperconvergence Solutions with Containers to Become the ‘Norm’”, Forrester blog, 12/29/15)

Many IT organizations consider HCI to be a good alternative as they evaluate options for updating their current server and storage systems. According to reasearch from The Aberdeen Group, 42% of SMBs reported aging infrastructure as their top IT challenge. Hyperconverged infrastructure provides an efficient way of achieving additional savings and efficiencies while upgrading existing infrastructure.

Importance of a Complete Product Portfolio

The hyperconverged infrastructure market has been led by start-ups for the past four years, but they have focused on one product out of necessity. IDC conducted a recent end-user converged systems survey that included questions regarding HCI. The participants were asked the question, “When considering (HCI) vendors, please rate the importance of the vendors ability to offer a complete product portfolio outside of HCI?” More than 70% of the people surveyed indicated the vendor’s ability of offer a complete product portfolio was “very important, we value a vendor’s ability to deliver full breadth of products and services” or “important, we prefer to keep as much with trusted partners” (see Figure 1). This was true in smaller companies of less than 1,000 employees as well as larger ones of more than 5,000 employees (source: IDC Converged Systems: End User Survey Report 2015).

Figure 1: Response to IDC Survey Question Based on Size of Company

>70% of end users think HCI vendors should offer a broad product portfolio

>70% of end users think HCI vendors should offer a broad product portfolio

Flexible Scaling

Most of the first generation hyperconverged products adopted an appliance approach, so systems were implemented on a single server type that scaled by stacking the systems in a linear fashion. IDC also conducted a survey regarding the adoption of hyperconverged infrastructure with IT executives; the executive interviews were a small sample of in-depth interviews. In response to the question, “What do you see as the major challenges of hyperconverged?” the top response was “must scale compute and storage together” (Source IDC Integrated Systems: Executive Interviews 2015).

We spoke with over 100 customers, as we were developing our requirements for a hyperconverged solution, so we understood customers wanted greater flexibility to scale HCI. Cisco HyperFlex Systems™ allow you to scale compute and storage resources independently.

Keep the Management Simple

Customers emphasized the need to reduce complexity. They wanted to avoid establishing another island of technology in their data center to manage. HCI needed to be an addition to the product portfolio that fit seamlessly into a broader management architecture.  This requirement was affirmed by Zeus Kerravala, the founder and principal analyst of ZK Research,  in his recent article,

Cisco’s unique differentiator is that it can move hyperconverged from being a standalone technology to being part of a larger converged architecture where converged and hyperconverged systems can be managed through a single, policy driven console offered via Cisco Enterprise Cloud Suite. (“Cisco flexes some data center muscle at Partner Summit 2016”, Zeus Kerravala, Networkworld, 03/01/16)

Cisco HyperFlex Systems are next generation hyperconverged infrastructure. They leverage all the benefits of the Cisco UCS management platform, including the broader partner ecosystem Cisco has developed over the past six years. HyperFlex also includes storage efficiency functionality, such as deduplication and compression, through the HX Data Platform.

What Do the Customers Think?

The industry analysts can offer insights, but customers and partners are the people who determine if a product is successful in the market. Less than one month after announcing Cisco HyperFlex, we’re off to a great start. CRN spoke with our channel partners, and they published an article entitled, “Cisco HyperFlex Already ‘Sizzling’ in Hyper-Converged Market“. The article describes the strong customer demand partners are experiencing for HyperFlex.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, hyperconverged infrastructure is Crossing the Chasm. Cisco has delivered a “whole product” to the market and demand is accelerating. In the CRN article, channel sales reps noted that “…Cisco is differentiating itself in the market with the ability to offer HyperFlex’s combined compute and software-defined storage technologies, along with Cisco’s networking expertise.”

If you’d like to get additional insights regarding hyperconverged infrastructure from an independent analyst firm, download the 451 Research report, “Considerations for the Next Phase of Hyperconverged Infrastructure”.


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