Cisco joins hyperconverged fray

hyperflex_hx220c_hx240cSAN DIEGO — Cisco Tuesday announced a new hyperconverged lineup dubbed Hyperflex, joining the increasingly crowded market for the next generation of converged infrastructure.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins announced the new product line in his Tuesday morning keynote at the company’s Partner Summit, held here this week.

Rob Soderbery, the networking giant’s senior vice president of enterprise products and services, pointed out Cisco’s longstanding role in the converged space through UCS, while highlighting what the company sees as some holes in current hyperconverged offerings.

While first-generation hyperconverged offerings accomplish their goals of making infrastructure simpler and letting customers launch faster, “it forgets a lot of stuff,” in Soderbery’s estimation. Stuff like performance, scalability, and manageability. That means these hyperconverged offerings, in Cisco’s opinion, may be fine for a single app, but fall short as a data centre-wide infrastructure.

The technology will serve as an example of the type of new style of technology partnerships that Robbins is championing — while it will be a Cisco-built and marketed solution, the company is partnering with hyperconvergence software player Springpath to round out the offering. Robbins’ strategy calls for Cisco to stay closer to its core offerings, and to co-develop with expert partners on areas outside the core but important to solutions in the core — in this case, software for data centre solutions.

The company says Hyperflex, built on top of UCS, will offer an 80 per cent reduction in data, 48 per cent better performance, and 30 per cent better TCO when compared to first-generation hyperconverged offerings, while being adaptable across a number of workloads. “It’s ready for virtualization today, and it will be ready for containers tomorrow,” Soderbery said.

Soderbery stressed that the company doesn’t see hyperconverged as a replacement for converged infrastructure, but rather a compliment to it, and said that interoperability and flexbility between traditional infrastructure, converged, and Hyperflex will be a hallmark of its data centre portfolio, Hyperflex included.

The hyperconverged market is growing at 60 per cent a year, Cisco says, and will play upon partners’ existing practices around the data centre. Ken Trombetta, vice president in Cisco’s global partner organization, said that while training should be fairly easy for partners already building out UCS deployments for customers, the company is rolling out a series of Hyperflex-centered training, including training for sales staff in the form of a four-hour on-demand video session slated to debut later this month, and workshops starting in April for systems engineers starting next month. He said Cisco will also put the carrot out in front of Hyperflex, including offering its first-ever data centre VIP incentive around the technology, slated to being later this month.