Pivot3 looks to shake up hyper-converged market with multiple workload solution

The Acuity solution’s priority-aware capabilities is the fruit of last year’s acquisition of NexGen and its technology.

Ron Nash, Pivot3’s CEO

A little over a year ago, Austin-based hyper-converged infrastructure vendor Pivot3 announced the acquisition of fellow hyper-converged player NexGen, in a deal the companies said would exploit their mutual synergies and allow them to expand their presence in the market dramatically. Today, that vision takes the form of product reality. Pivot3 has announced the release of Acuity, the industry’s first priority-aware HCI software platform. In addition to delivering breakthrough performance with ultra-low-latency NVMe PCIe flash, it allows for the effective consolidation of multiple mixed-application workloads onto a single infrastructure.

“This responds to a market need to make hyper-converged a platform that runs more than one application effectively,” said Ron Nash, Pivot3’s CEO. “Customers bought hyper-converged platforms for a single workload, and it worked great. And then they started loading more apps on it. A third of our new customer revenue came from people buying for multiple applications from the beginning. That led to a ‘crossing the chasm’ moment – when people think of your product as a platform. But the second step behind that was once they put multiple applications on a platform, you have to automate to give them the ability to manage it all effectively, with SLAs. This is the first policy-based management for hyper-converged where you can do this, while also accelerating performance.”

The Acuity platform combines Quality of Service (QoS) controls which allow for the priority-aware capabilities, with the efficient use of high performance NVMe flash.

“When we were acquiring NexGen, I and John Spiers, their CEO, sketched this out on a napkin over lunch,” Nash said. “NexGen went into the high end of processing using PCIe cards, which they were using because at that time, there was no industry standard. Now there is NVMe, but to use it in this way, you have to design your data path into NVMe. NexGen spent years on this, and when we acquired them we moved years ahead. They also did QoS dynamic provisioning that lets you designate a priority for each workload. The result is a high-end computational performance application with ultra-low latency.”

Pivot3 calculates that performance as a rate that is 450-percent faster than SATA SSD and 119-percent faster than SAS SSD. The NVMe PCIe flash data path performance delivery also improves response times for databases, enterprise applications, business analytics and VDI, and increases density.

“This means customers will be able to put two to three times more virtual machines on each node, compared with our current product,” Nash said. “This will cut data centre footprint by cutting costs like electricity.”

Nash stated this means that the number of applications that enterprises will put on hyper-converged will increase significantly.

“Most current products, including ours, run about 60 of data centre applications,” he said. “This will take it up to 80 to 85 per cent – everything but the most high-end performance applications.”

Acuity has a comprehensive set of data services, including Pivot3’s patented erasure coding which delivers up to 82-per cent usable storage capacity. Additional data services include snapshots and clones, application-integrated data protection, data reduction, and integrations with VMware vSphere and VMware vCenter.

Nash thinks that Acuity will change completely how the Pivot3 HCI solutions are used.

“Hyper-converged in general started on a lot of smaller projects, and a lot of big enterprises didn’t take it into their core data centre – only their branch offices,” he said. “I think the ability of Acuity to handle the multiple applications will be what puts it into the core data centre. We have Global 2000 customers who started off using us in their ROBO deployments, but who are now moving us into their core data centres.”

Increased demand at the higher end of the market will require some select additions to Pivot3’s channel.

“We have some of the partners today who we will need for this, who deal with big enterprise customers,” Nash said. “But we have room for more, and will recruit more, who specialize in the high end of the market.

Nash also said this first Acuity platform is only the first, and that other variants will be coming down the road.

“This version is built for data centres, but we will have others,” he said. “For the end of year, we will have a storage product that is hyper-converged, but will have all the functionality of high end storage. In addition, while this version scales out, about a year from now, we will have an even greater scale-out version, for higher performance.”