Cisco Teams With Startup Springpath, Sets Sights On Total Dominance Of The Hyper-Convergence Market

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Cisco Systems took the wraps off a new hyper-converged infrastructure product line called HyperFlex Systems Tuesday, pitching it as a more economical and better-performing alternative to Nutanix and other startups in the fast-emerging space.

HyperFlex Systems, unveiled at the vendor's annual partner conference in San Diego, consists of Cisco UCS servers and software-defined storage technology that Cisco developed through a strategic partnership with Springpath, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup founded by former VMware storage engineers.

The technology, which Cisco is calling the HX Data Platform, pools storage from solid-state and conventional hard drives and turns it into an enterprise-grade object storage system, Todd Brannon, Cisco’s director of product marketing for UCS, said in an interview.

[Related: Here's Why Cisco Partners Believe Vendor Will Acquire Hyper-Converged Startup Springpath]

Cisco also revealed that it led a previously undisclosed Series C round of funding in Springpath. Brannon declined to specify the amount of the investment but said Cisco has been working with Springpath since 2012, the year it was founded.

Springpath spokespeople didn’t respond to a request for comment. The startup has raised $34 million in funding to date from investors Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Redpoint Ventures and Stanford University, according to Crunchbase.

CRN in January was first to report that Cisco had signed an OEM agreement with Springpath and made an undisclosed investment in the startup. Cisco has the option to acquire Springpath based on revenue results, according to CRN's sources.  

Cisco's HyperFlex pricing for a three-node HyperFlex cluster starts at $59,000 including one year of 24x7x4 on-site support. Cisco is now taking orders and plans to start shipping products sometime this month, a spokesman for the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor told CRN.

Cisco is a late arrival to the hyper-convergence market, where top startups Nutanix and SimpliVity have collectively raised close to $590 million over the past several years. But according to Brannon, hyper-convergence startups have taken "some real architectural shortcuts" that have slowed mainstream adoption of the technology.

 "That’s what we're fixing with HyperFlex," Brannon told CRN.  

Brannon said while hyper-converged startups like to tout their offerings as being quick to set up, they're typically combinations of compute and storage that don’t account for networking. As a result, customers have to figure out how to connect all the different parts together, and getting a system up and running can take days or weeks, he said.

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