Given all the interest in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), it’s natural that competition among all the vendors in the category is now fierce. Cisco today is looking to kick that competition up a few notches with an update to its HyperFlex Systems that adds a distributed file system to make it feasible to run a larger number of enterprise-class workloads on an HCI appliance.
Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for Unified Computing at Cisco, says the inclusion of the Cisco HX Data Platform creates another point of differentiation between Cisco and its competitors. When integrated with the network fabric that Cisco includes in its HyperFlex system, Brannon says, the HyperFlex appliances provide much lower latency, while simultaneously being able to support four times as many virtual machines.
To expand on that capability, Cisco is also adding support for 40 Gbps adapters, an ability to deploy HyperFlex systems using all-Flash nodes, support for NVMe caching, and encryption for data at rest.
Finally, Cisco is including a native replication capability to facilitate data protection along with support for the Cisco Enterprise Cloud Suite management platform. That latter capability, says Brannon, will enable IT organizations to integrate the management of HyperFlex systems and external public clouds under a common management framework.
Unlike rivals that bundle third-party switches with HCI platforms consisting of integrated servers and storage, Brannon says Cisco views the integration of networking as a core HCI requirement because the network is now essentially the I/O backplane connecting distributed data across multiple HCI nodes together.
Longer term, Brannon says, it’s only a matter of time before Cisco starts applying machine learning algorithms to further reduce the total cost of operating either a converged or HCI environment.
Naturally, it remains to be seen how rivals will respond. But Cisco claims to have already signed up 1,100 HyperFlex customers, with two-thirds of those customers coming from the ranks of existing Cisco Unified Compute System (UCS) customers.
Two-thirds of our HyperFlex customers are existing UCS customers,” says Brannon. “But a third are net new.”
That would suggest that at the very least, Cisco is starting to gain some traction in this space.