The markets for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure are currently among the data centre industry’s most fast-changing competitive arenas.
Recent months have seen several developments that illustrate the opportunities vendors believe converged solutions have to offer, which include the launch of new hyper-converged products by Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Dell, as well as the development and expansion of existing offerings.
As the markets for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure continue to evolve, enterprises will have access to a growing range of offerings that include full appliances, reference architectures and software-only options that are flexible in terms of the platform they run on.
“Despite considerable differences, what all of these solutions share is the goal of reducing the complexity of data centre infrastructure, making it easier to manage, increasing resource efficiency and reducing operating costs,” says Chris Drake, research analyst, Current Analysis.
“Converged and hyper-converged platforms also aim to make data centre architectures flexible and agile enough to respond to fluctuating demands and ensure that IT departments can rapidly provision resources and deploy new services and applications that support revenue generation.”
In March, Cisco made its hyper-converged market debut with the launch of HyperFlex, an appliance based on its Unified Computing System (UCS) and which includes pre-integrated networking as a key differentiator.
The same month, HPE launched an update to its Hyper Converged 380 (HC 380) offering, which is built on HPE applications and technologies - rather than third-party components - in order to reduce costs and improve performance for end users.
According to Drake, HPE will target mid-sized and remote office branch office enterprises with its new hyper-converged offering, highlighting the opportunity for such solutions vendors to specialise in serving specific market segments or even vertical industries.
Meanwhile, although Dell is no newcomer to hyper-converged infrastructure - having previously resold VMware’s EVO:RAIL before launching its own XC Web-scale Converged Appliance - the company recently announced enhancements to its XC series, as well as a plan to resell hyper-converged offerings from EMC and VCE.
As it prepares to merge with EMC, Drake believes Dell’s hyper-converged strategy involves capitalising on the strength and reputation of the Dell, EMC, VCE and VMware brands, as well as providing a broad selection of hyper-converged offerings that range from flexible building blocks to appliances and full stack solutions.
“Cisco, HPE and Dell are already established players in the market for converged infrastructure, alongside other major providers that include IBM, Oracle, NetApp and Hitachi,” Drake adds.
“The latest moves by Cisco, HPE and Dell to establish or expand their position in the growing market for hyper-converged solutions reflect a recognition of just how much this market could grow over the next few years.”
For Drake, it also highlights the strong belief these vendors have in their respective advantages vis-à-vis hyper-converged market heavyweights SimpliVity and Nutanix.
“Over time, it’s likely that we’ll see increasingly innovative applications and deployments of hyper-converged infrastructure as technologies and strategies mature,” Drake adds.
“It is, however, also fair to speculate about whether the market for hyper-converged solutions can sustain the current number of providers and the likelihood that we’ll see future consolidation.”
Drake believes the survival of companies, strategies and products usually depends on a range of factors, including corporate stability and business momentum as well as brand strength and reputation.
“In addition, the popularity and ultimate success of individual hyper-converged solutions will be shaped by things such as cost, scalability, time to deploy, ease of use and flexibility - including their ability to work with other hardware and software,” he adds.