HPE extends StoreFabric M-series switches with new SKUs for specialized markets and use cases

The new SKUs add TAA compliance for resonance in the government market, ONIE SKUs to appeal to those who want a third-party, typically open source OS, and reverse airflow options which some telcos prefer.

In late 2017, Hewlett Packard Enterprise introduced the HPE StoreFabric M-Series switches, the first storage-optimized Ethernet switch capable of providing an Ethernet Storage Fabric. These switches leverage the Mellanox Ethernet Storage Fabric to provide 25, 50, and 100 Gb/s Ethernet connectivity in storage environments. They followed that up last June with a software component, the HPE Smart Fabric Orchestrator, as well as a smaller and more energy-efficient version of the switch designed as an optimally-priced solution for the strong demand in secondary storage environments. Now they are extending the series again with a wide variety of SKUs designed to fit specific connectivity use cases, with government in open source environments and where customers desire different airflow options.
“We think that these new SKUs are game-changers because they allow us to address additional segments of the market,” said Faisal Hanif, Principal Consultant for HPE Storage and Big Data.

One of those is the government space.

“We see tremendous opportunities for the M-Series in the U.S. federal space, so we have launched all the SKUs with a TAA [Trade Agreements Act] compliant option,” Hanif said. In place since 1979, the TAA requires that the U.S. Government may acquire only products that are made in the U.S. or designated countries. These include all the major IT producers except China, although some other large countries like Russia are also not on the TAA list.

“The U.S. federal government well only buy if a product is TAA compliant, and as a practical matter, other government markets, including Canada and the EU countries, also use it,” Hanif said. “It’s not something that is automatic, It requires satisfying a Proof of Concept. So in this case, we determined that there was enough business justification to make the TAA SKUs available.”

The second set of new SKUs is around the ONIE [Open network install environment] SKUs. ONIE, originally contributed to open source by Cumulus Networks, defines an open “install environment,” and the Cumulus OS is the principal, though not the only, third party OS deployed in these environments.

“Large telco customers are tending to move to a more disaggregated model, where they buy switches from one vendor and the OS from another, so these SKUs give these kinds of customers more flexibility,” Hanif indicated.

The third set of new SKUs provides airflow options front-to-back and back-to-front.
“The vast majority of customers still prefer the earlier airflow option, but some with rackless switches have airflow in the other direction,” Hanif said. “Often these are telco racks at the edge, who want the ability to have both airflows in order to buy the switches. Having this capability gets us to these large customers who want those options available.”

Hanif said that partners have done a good business with the M-Series switches to date, selling them both with standard HPE 3PAR and Nimble offerings, with their SimpliVity hyperconverged platform, and with third-party HPE Complete partners like Hedvig and Qumulo.

“The single pane of glass management and single point of support helps sell them with the HPE partners,” Hanif noted. “The network is typically the most complex part of the data centre and is where most of the problems arrive. Being able to address this with the M-series as part of a single solutions helps a lot. Partners also see improved margins when they include networking switches.”