SimpliVity Partners With Cisco To Offer Cisco UCS-based Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Doron Kempel

Hyper-converged infrastructure appliance developer SimpliVity said Monday it is working with Cisco to make the technology behind its OmniCube appliance available to customers and channel partners with Cisco-focused data center infrastructures.

The new SimpliVity OmniStack Integrated Solution with Cisco UCS combines SimpliVity's OmniStack software and its proprietary hardware card with Cisco UCS C240 rack mount servers for Cisco solution providers and customers.

Together, the solution provides the same combined hypervisor, server, storage, networking, backup, replication, cloud gateway, caching and deduplication capabilities as the current SimpliVity OmniCube, said Doron Kempel, chairman and CEO of the Westborough, Mass.-based company.

[Related: The Power Of One: New Converged Infrastructure Solutions]

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CRN last week first reported that SimpliVity and Cisco were planning to unveil such a relationship at this week's VMworld conference.

Kempel told CRN that SimpliVity's relationship with Cisco is totally different from rival Nutanix's OEM relationship with Dell.

"Let me first tell you what this is not," Kempel said. "Cisco and SimpliVity are not selling each others' technology. There's no OEM deal. An OEM deal kills the channel."

This is a huge deal for Cisco channel partners, said Scott Miller, director of data center at World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based solution provider and the largest channel partner for Cisco in North America.

"This is a good answer for aligning with Cisco against the Nutanix play," Miller told CRN. "Nutanix has not had an impact on our Cisco business. But it has popped up on some Federal customers and in some remote offices. So it's a good play for us. When customers are ready to go with hyper-converged infrastructure, they can run with Cisco."

It makes sense for SimpliVity to go with a channel-only strategy with Cisco rather than an OEM deal, said John Flisher, technical consultant manager at eGroup, a Mt. Pleasant, S.C.-based solution provider and Cisco partner that also works with Nutanix and has been considering a SimpliVity relationship.

"Channel is the only way to go when it comes to consulting with customers on a problem and coming back with the right solution," Flisher told CRN. "If you go OEM, customers may feel like they're getting more of an assembly line solution."

The relationships stems from requests from Cisco partners and customers for a hyper-converged infrastructure solution that fits in their existing Cisco environments, Kempel said.

NEXT: SimpliVity And Cisco A Channel-Focused Relationship, 'Not An OEM'

The SimpliVity OmniStack Integrated Solution with Cisco UCS will offer the same functionality as the current SimpliVity OmniCube, which is built using Dell server hardware, Kempel said. SimpliVity will provide support for both its technology and the Cisco UCS servers, he said.

Solution providers who have partnerships with both SimpliVity and Cisco can order the solution through SimpliVity, which will handle the integration of the UCS server with the SimpliVity technology, he said. However, certain larger partners may also do their own integration in some instances, he said.

Kempel said the SimpliVity OmniStack Integrated Solution with Cisco UCS was designed to empower the channel.

"This is not an OEM," Kempel said. "There's no going around the channel. It's not like the Nutanix-Dell deal where a Nutanix VAR might sell the solution to the customer, but then the customer realizes he can get the same thing through Dell and then call Dell directly for it."

Steve Kaplan, vice president of channels and strategic sales at Nutanix, told CRN in June when the Dell-Nutanix solution was first unveiled that the relationship was designed to minimize channel conflicts.

Dell, as one of Nutanix's many reseller partners, will not get a price that would allow it to sell the appliances for less than what other Nutanix partners pay, Kaplan said.

"And Dell will have to register every deal for both Dell-branded and Nutanix-branded sales," he said. "Just like any partner."

The new SimpliVity-Cisco relationship will not impact the SimpliVity-Dell relationship, Kempel said.

"There has been zero impact," he said. "We've been very happy with our Dell relationship. That deal is with a different part of Dell (than the Dell-Nutanix relationship). And we have already been competing with companies like Dell and EMC since Day One. And since we don't have an OEM deal for Dell to sell our solution, there's no competitive issue with us and Nutanix."

Kempel added that, while all the major server vendors are expected to also start using VMware's Vsan technology to build hyper-converged infrastructures, that won't be an issue for SimpliVity.

"We don't care," he said. "The entire world is moving towards hyper-converged infrastructures. We welcome the proliferation of hyper-converged infrastructure or software-defined data center or whatever you call it."

Kempel did not rule out the possibility that SimpliVity might someday strike similar relationships with other server vendors.

NEXT: SimpliVity, Cisco, And The Channel

"It depends on market dynamics," Kempel said. "But I will say, whatever we do will be consistent with our channel strategy. We have distributors and larger partners worldwide who are satisfied with our relationship."

The new SimpliVity OmniStack Integrated Solution with Cisco UCS will resonate with eGroup's existing Cisco customer base, Flisher said. However, given that hyper-converged infrastructure solutions stem mainly from the software stack regardless of what the hardware base is, what the actual hardware is under the solution is generally not an issue, he said.

"If I can tell a customer the Cisco UCS-based version plays nice with Cisco Manager, maybe that will be good for Cisco customers," he said. "But customers who look at these kind of solutions are generally those who think out of the box anyway, and so may not be concerned about the hardware base."

In addition to its Cisco relationship, World Wide Technology also partners with Nutanix, Miller said. However, SimpliVity with Cisco will take the solution provider's hyper-converged infrastructure business to a whole new level.

"We are an active partner with Nutanix," he said. "If customers want to go the Nutanix route, we will help them. But we won't be pro-actively driving the Nutanix solution. We will pro-actively drive the SimpliVity solution because of the best-in-class Cisco hardware."

World Wide Technology will put the SimpliVity-Cisco solution in its Advanced Technology Center so customers will be able to see how it fits with their requirements, Miller said.