Founded by former VMware storage engineers, Springpath owns a software-defined storage technology called HX Data Platform, which runs on Cisco UCS servers to create HyperFlex. The platform pools storage from solid-state and conventional hard drives and turns it into an enterprise-grade object storage system.
In an interview with CRN in May, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said his company was already seeing success with the Springpath alliance. "The way we measure success on these early technologies is through the number of customers that have adopted the technology … the [HyperFlex] pipeline is strong. The early feedback that I'm getting from the field teams is positive," said Robbins.
One potential hurdle standing in Cisco’s way is an impending lawsuit filed in September 2015 against Springpath by hyper-converged competitor SimpliVity.
Westborough, Mass.-based SimpliVity – which also has a strategic partnership with Cisco -- alleges that Springpath infringed on SimpliVity's storage-related technology patent when Springpath created its software-defined storage Data Platform product. The platform is Springpath’s key product inside Cisco’s HyperFlex hyper-converged solution.
According to a judgement by the Massachusetts District Court, if SimpliVity wins the case, the company could be awarded damages and potentially ban Springpath’s Data Platform product from being sold due to infringement technology. Springpath’s motion to dismiss the patent infringement claim was denied on July 15 by Massachusetts District Judge Timothy S. Hillman.
“Cisco obviously knew of the lawsuit before they announced to the world that they had partnered with [Springpath] for HyperFlex,” said the source familiar with the situation. “They probably thought it was going to be resolved by now or hopefully thrown out. ... There are workarounds for these types of things, so Cisco is still preparing to buy them.”
“Springpath could build [Data Platform] 2.0 with non-infringing and designs to go around whatever [the court] orders,” the source said.
Since its general release in March, "hundreds of customers" have purchased Cisco HyperFlex, said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing Systems Group, at Cisco Live this month.
In April, Cisco told CRN strong market demand for HyperFlex was delaying shipments of the product to channel partners for testing purposes.
"They want to [utilize] more of Springpath's technology sooner rather than later," said the source. "If you've been watching the [hyper-converged vendor] landscape this year, it's ballooned compared to a year or two ago. … They've waited for the right moment when the market is ready to buy them and now they're ready."