Vendors Are Doubling Down on Hyperconverged Offerings, but That’s No Promise of Long-Term Market Success

C. Drake
C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

  • The market for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is one of the data center industry’s fastest changing sub-segments, recently attracting new offerings from Cisco, HPE and Dell.
  • The success of individual HCI solutions will be shaped by things such as cost, scalability, time to deploy, ease of use and flexibility.

The market for hyperconverged infrastructure is currently one of the data center industry’s most exciting and fastest changing sub-segments. Recent months have seen several developments that illustrate the opportunities solutions vendors believe HCI offers them. These include the launch of new HCI offerings by Cisco, HPE and Dell as well as the expansion and development of existing HCI solutions to support new features and capabilities. However, despite this recent rush of HCI activity, questions should be asked about the market’s future potential and the long-term success of individual solutions.

In March, Cisco made its HCI 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, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (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. HPE will target mid-sized and remote office branch office enterprises with its new HCI offering; this highlights the opportunity for HCI vendors to specialize in serving specific market segments or even vertical industries.

Meanwhile, although Dell is no newcomer to HCI – 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 hyperconverged offerings from EMC and VCE. As it prepares to merge with EMC, Dell’s hyperconverged strategy involves capitalizing on the strength and reputation of the Dell, EMC, VCE and VMware brands, as well as providing a broad selection of hyperconverged offerings that range from flexible building blocks to appliances and full stack solutions.

These moves by Cisco, HPE and Dell to establish or expand their position in the growing market for HCI solutions reflect a recognition of just how much this market could grow over the next few years. It also highlights the strong belief these vendors have in their respective advantages vis-à-vis market heavyweights SimpliVity and Nutanix.

As the market continues to evolve, enterprises will have access to a growing range of HCI solutions which include full appliances, reference architectures and software-only options that are flexible in terms of the platform they run on. What all of these solutions share is the goal of reducing the complexity of data center infrastructure, making it easier to manage, increasing resource efficiency and reducing operating costs. HCI solutions also aim to make data center 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.

Over time, it’s likely that we’ll see increasingly innovative applications and deployments of HCI as technologies and strategies mature. It is, however, also fair to speculate about whether the market for HCI solutions can sustain the current number of providers and the likelihood that we’ll see future consolidation. 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 HCI 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.

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