Figure 1: Wikibon server virtualization customer survey, see more Wikibon VMware related research
Figure 1: Wikibon server virtualization customer survey, see more Wikibon VMware related research

In April 2012, Wikibon forecasted that converged infrastructure would rapidly become the predominant way that IT would purchase gear. Wikibon surveys of virtualization users (see Figure 1) confirm that convergence is already becoming very popular, primarily because it delivers a simplified solution, not only for fast and agile deployment, but also for improved efficiencies of operations. Some of the operational improvements come frombreaking down the silos between pieces of the stack. SimpliVity, a startup vendor thatrecently updated its solution, delivers a software stack that is deeper than existing offerings.

The basic converged infrastructure stack includes storage, network, compute and management software. SimpliVity’s OmniStack software includes those pieces plus backup/dedupe, WAN optimization, cloud gateway functionality, and use of SSD and flash caching. While every customer does not necessarily need every feature (see video below), the overall solution and features that customers use has a much simpler deployment and management than the traditional complex stack of components found in most data centers. SimpliVity’s solution is available both in an OmniCube (turnkey solution that includes all hardware and software) and the OmniStack (qualified server with accelerator card) geared for service providers or very large users. The only “special” hardware for the solution is an accelerator card that is a less expensive way to offload certain processes rather than using compute cycles, and even this can be run in software for cloud (such as a replication site on Amazon) or test environments. Even replication, which is a license or additional appliance for most solutions, is built-in to the base SimpliVity offering, leading to multi-site deployments for almost all customers.

As discussed in this Wikibon whiteboard video, a hyperconvergence offering is one that delivers simple scalability beyond a single box. SimpliVity’s software architecture is geared for multi-box scalability. Most deployments start with three-to-four cubes at a single site. It can scale to 12 cubes at six sites today, and the company has stated that it will test up to 512 cubes at 64 sites in the future. The updated portfolio includes a refresh of OmniCube software, version 2.1, adds VMware VAAI support, Amazon AWS Cloud Data Center enhancements, an improved GUI, and support for expanded hardware offerings. The hardware options are the CN3000 (now an updated version of the original flagship that has been shipping for a year), the CN5000 for high performance applications, and the CN2000 for SME/ROBO deployments with an entry price of $27k. The different cubes can all be part of a single global federation.

Action Item: All too often, IT departments acquire and deploy infrastructure based on immediate needs rather than thinking about the full lifecycle of the virtualized data. As converged infrastructure promises to simplify solutions, users should be aware of how backup, replication, and other features fit into the overall solution today and in the future. SimpliVity’s OmniStack shows leadership in delivering a deep software stack that can support both onsite, service provider or cloud deployments.