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  • 03/15/2016
    7:50 AM
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HPE Joins The Hyperconvergence Party

The HC 380 appliance targets midsize enterprises and remote offices with a focus on simplicity.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Tuesday jumped into the hyperconvergence market with an integrated appliance built on its ProLiant DL380 server and designed with its composable infrastructure vision in mind.

The Hyper Converged 380 is a two-node appliance that combines VMware vSphere, software-defined storage (HPE StoreVirtual), and HP OneView User Experience management software. The company touts the product’s user interface as making it easy for IT pros at midsize companies and remote offices to deploy and manage virtual machines with a few clicks.

HPE claims the simplicity of the HC 380 and its tight integration based on HPE’s own hardware and partnership with VMware makes it stand out in the crowded hyperconvergence market. The market has grown rapidly with a number of startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity leading the pack of vendors offering products that combine storage and compute in a single commodity hardware appliance. Projections for the market range from $4.8 billion to $5.5 billion by 2019.

HPE’s announcement comes on the heels of another industry heavyweight’s entrance into the hyperconvergence market. Cisco earlier this month launched HyperFlex Systems on its UCS platform in partnership with Springpath.

A couple days after Cisco’s launch, HPE CEO Meg Whitman revealed HPE’s plan to launch a hyperconverged product. According to published reports, she boasted that the appliance will be market-changing and cost much less than Nutanix.

HPE said HC 380 pricing won’t be released until the product is available March 31. It will ship shortly after that.

Paul Miller, VP of converged data infrastructure marketing at HPE, told me that a lot of hyperconvergence vendors “don’t own the infrastructure, so they kind of ignore it.” With the HC 380, users can easily deploy firmware updates that HPE has tested, he said.

Also, many competitors start out at three nodes, which creates complexity and cost, Miller said. The HC 380 starts at two nodes and is expandable in one node increments up to 16 nodes.

HPE claims that with StoreVirtual, the HC380 can provide more cost-effective data protection and disaster recovery because organizations can replicate data to existing servers with StoreVirtual software; there isn’t a need to add another appliance.

The user interface is designed to support mobile platforms, allowing users to provision and recommission VMs from their phone.

HPE is positioning HC 380 as upgradable to its composable infrastructure strategy. Colm Keegan, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said that positioning is what truly differentiates the product in the hyperconverged market. “This is intended to be not just the end all, be all, but a stepping stone,” he said in a phone interview.

An ESG survey showed that organizations are struggling to build private clouds, he said. With HC 380, HPE can help midsize and small organizations to boost their virtualization capabilities and migrate to private cloud and then hybrid cloud, Keegan said. The product will fit into its Synergy composable infrastructure platform, which aims to provide a public cloud-like way for organizations to manage on-premises resources alongside next-generation cloud applications.

“I’m not suggesting that people are ready for that day one, but this gives them a path and investment protection,” he said.

It’s worth noting that HPE was among the hardware vendors supporting VMware’s EVO:RAIL hyperconverged platform with its ConvergedSystem 200-HC StoreVirtual appliance. HPE discontinued the product last July.

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