Cisco HyperFlex – Welcome to the HCI Party!

Cisco has finally decided to bring the vodka to spike the punch at the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure party. And it tastes pretty damn good. There have been rumours for a while now that Cisco was working with Springpath and as a major third round investor it’s not surprising to hear about their entrance into the HCI arena. The Register’s Chris Mellor reported about Something bubbling up at Springpath back in early December.  So what is the offspring of Cisco and Springpath called? Cisco HyperFlex!!

hyperflex systems

The Play:

Hyper-converged systems so far have delivered on simplicity and scale but there’s been a massive gap in  the lack of network integration in existing solutions. Yes you can use top of rack fast switches. In some cases customers use Cumulus on whitebox top-of-rack switches for software defined networking but networking is not a built in feature of the two leading hyper-converged solutions, Nutanix and Simplivity.

HyperFlex joins the comprehensive DC portfolio along with UCS, MDS and Nexus. It means that Cisco now has a play in traditional component based infrastructure, converge infrastructure and now hyper-converged infrastructure. Cisco is adding HyperFlex to provide it with another string to its software defined infrastructure. It will now have:

  • UCS – compute (service profiles, APIs etc.)
  • ACI – for software defined network
  • HyperFlex- software defined storage, compute and network

hyperflex systems overview

On the initial release Cisco HyperFlex will support file storage and VMware. There are a number of other storage types, such as block and object, and hypervisors on the roadmap.  There’s also going to be container support. Given that Springpath was hypervisor agnostic I’d expect a quick ramp up from Cisco and fast feature release cycle.

The Potential:

Like pretty much every other hyper-converged solution Cisco sees its expected use-cases to be:

  • VDI
  • Server virtualisation
  • Test and development
  • Large remote branch offices

UCS Manager is already familiar to multiple thousands of customers worldwide and the server and network deployment settings in HyperFlex come from pre-configured Service Profiles. Service Profiles are well and truly familiar to anyone that has worked with Cisco UCS.  Given that customer base and the familiarity with existing management tools there’s massive potential for Cisco HyperFlex here. There are some well developed existing incumbents in the hyper-converged market with Nutanix leading the way and HyperFlex will allow Cisco to gain a foothold in that rapidly growing market.

The Deep-dive: Read More