Huawei, DataCore partner on hyper-converged solutions

The DataCore-Huawei offerings are targeted at larger customers than the midmarket and lower end of the enterprise where other hyperconverged vendors have been most successful to date.

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Steve Houck, Chief Operating Officer at DataCore

Chinese-based Huawei and Ft. Lauderdale-based DataCore software have announced a partnership which will integrate Huawei’s hardware and DataCore’s software in a new line of jointly certified hyper-converged solutions that will be sold through the channels of both companies. The first offering from the relationship will integrate Huawei’s FusionServer with DataCore’s SANsymphony-V10 software.

For a software-only player like DataCore, which has abstracted services into a server- agnostic, storage-agnostic platform, these kinds of partnering and OEM relationships with hardware players have always been a key route to market over the 17 years of their existence. This is their second such agreement in the hyper-converged space, following a recently announced one with Fujitsu.

“Our strategy is to acquire customers both through our own sales efforts and OEMing with players like Huawei, Lenovo and Cisco,” said Steve Houck, Chief Operating Officer at DataCore. “We have made a concerted effort to get relationships with these key OEMs.”

This is the first formalized partnership DataCore has had with Huawei.

“We had worked with them at the field level, the deal level, but on an opportunistic basis, Houck said. “Huawei sees the importance of having enterprise class software in their systems, especially to gain share in incumbents’ accounts where they are heavily entrenched.”

The new hyper-converged solutions combine the advanced Huawei FusionServer series of rack servers, blade servers, and data center servers with DataCore’s software-defined storage services platform. They provide enterprise-class storage for both self-contained hyper-converged solutions as well as architectures that allow independent scaling of storage and compute, all connected by a Huawei-powered network fabric. They can also integrate and manage legacy storage systems.

While the sweet spot so far for hyper-converged deployments has been the midmarket and small enterprise, the Huawei-DataCore offerings will be aimed at larger companies.

“We are deliberately going upmarket, focusing on the commercial and enterprise markets with very large deployments,” Houck said. He noted that this contrasts with the original midmarket emphasis of the hyperconverged vendors like Nutanix and Nimble.

“The newcomers focused on the midmarket, in part because their people mainly came out of the LeftHands, Equallogics, that first generation of speciality storage arrays whose gear was approaching end of life,” Houck said. “They saw an opportunity to rip and replace in that market. But those systems have some scalability issues, which ours do not. We take all those storage services and scale massively, so we can do massive scale or we can take the lower end of those servers and deploy across thousands of point of sale solutions in retail. In order to scale at level the enterprise demands, you have to have a software-led strategy.”

Houck emphasized that DataCore designed its software 17 years ago for what they accurately forecast would be the environment of today.

“We developed product then on the premise of a future that would be drastically heterogeneous, very fragmented, and would require all sorts of services,” he said. “Hyperconverged vendors are being adopted, but they are also creating new siloes of data. We are seeing the same things now that we saw when VMare was getting adopted, and customers considering a virtualization-first strategy wanted to know it can co-exist with everything else. Today, there are lots of systems, but our value is that we provide a unified storage services platform for a customer who wants that.”

Huawei makes an excellent partner for them, Houck added.

“They have a combination of innovation in the product and also innovation in strategy, looking to disrupt the market,” he said. “Their market share as of today is predominantly outside the U.S., but gaining there is a number one priority for them. As a newcomer they don’t have install base to protect, so they can take more risks, and can do things incumbents can’t do. They are also extremely well-funded and focused. So while their share is low now, it is in a server and storage market that is rapidly changing.”

The Huawei-DataCore products will be sold and supported through a joint effort and will be available through the channels of both companies.

“In the Americas we are working to develop distribution and channel strategy for these products,” Houck said. “DataCore broadly goes to market through tier two distribution and OEM. In the early days we focused on visionary partners with a solution strategy. Every partner will say that’s their strategy, but it’s truly only a subset that sells solutions first. Now with storage being commoditized, we are seeing partners seeing consistent hardware business at risk, and we are seeing more mainstream partners looking at their storage practice as a software practice and lead with virtualization first.”

The deal with Huawei really shows partners where the market is going, Houck said.

“While it’s a partnership about a hyperconverged hardware system, the important message for partners is how software can enable them and their customers to do well in a more fragmented and heterogeneous infrastructure,” he said.

The Huawei and DataCore Hyper-Converged Solutions will be available for shipment later this month. List prices start at around $USD 21,200.