HP And VMware Teaming Up On Converged, Hyper-Converged Systems To Keep Cisco At Bay

VMware and Hewlett-Packard are longtime allies in the data center, and now they're taking their relationship to a new level to battle their common enemy Cisco Systems.

At the VMworld conference next week, HP will unveil a new Converged Systems product that features VMware's vSphere with Operations Management software (vSOM), sources familiar with the vendors' plans told CRN, speaking on condition of anonymity.

VMware vSOM will now be fully integrated in the HP Converged System and HP will ship and sell it as a single product SKU, sources familiar with the vendors' plans told CRN.

HP currently sells a Converged System bundled with VMware vSOM, but it's not fully integrated, sources said.

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An HP spokesperson declined comment, citing company policy of not commenting on unannounced products.

A VMware spokesperson said the vendor doesn't comment on "rumors or speculation."

Making the joint HP-VMware offering available as a single product SKU is important because it makes it easier for channel partners to sell.

Related: VMware Partners Aren't Putting Much Stock In AWS, Azure Cloud Benchmarking Comparisons

HP's Converged Systems are a combination of pre-configured servers, storage and networking hardware and software that enterprises typically purchase to support large numbers of users.

VMware's vSOM is a bundle of its vSphere server virtualization software and vCenter Operations Manager, which handles performance, capacity planning, and health monitoring in virtual and cloud environments.

HP is teaming up with VMware because its own management software for virtual and cloud environments isn't as good as Cisco's management portfolio, sources with knowledge of the matter told CRN.

"HP has struggled to get out a coherent message for converged solutions. They see VMware's hypervisor and management tools as keys to a successful push in this direction," one source familiar with HP's motivations told CRN.

"Although HP isn't actually losing share to Cisco UCS [in the server market], they are clearly the target for a lot of Cisco 'marketware' and they need a stronger pitch than they can credibly make on their own. Working with VMware makes sense," said the source.

VMware is hoping the HP integration will help it sell more vSOM, which debuted as a licensing option in February 2013. VMware vSOM is part of the vendor's campaign to get customers buying vSphere in conjunction with other products, known informally as "No more naked vSphere."

So far, however, vSOM "hasn't been flying off the shelves by any stretch," one VMware partner said.

Meanwhile, sources told CRN that HP is also working with VMware on "Marvin," a top-secret project which many industry watchers believe to be a reference architecture for a "hyper-converged" appliance.

Hyper-converged appliances, currently sold by startups like Nutanix and SimpliVity, feature compute, storage, networking and virtualization technology running as software on industry-standard x86 hardware. Some enterprises have found them to be more cost-effective alternatives to converged infrastructure systems.

VMware's Marvin is expected to showcase the vendor's NSX virtualization technology and VSAN storage technology. With SimpliVity teaming up with Cisco to use UCS servers for its hyper-converged appliances, HP's support for VMware Marvin could become even more strategically relevant.

One source familiar with VMware's plans said he expects Marvin to be an open architecture that a wide range of server vendors will be able to support.

"VMware will partner with everyone and their grandmother to sell the Marvin appliance," said the source.