Cisco Exec: Strong HyperFlex Demand Is Delaying Partner Shipments, But We're Stepping Up Manufacturing

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Cisco Systems said Friday that it has seen higher-than-expected customer interest in HyperFlex, its foray into the hyper-convergence market, and that has led to delays in shipping the product to partners for testing purposes. 
"We are prioritizing customer orders [of HyperFlex], which has slowed delivery to partners who want to get lab gear," Todd Brannon, Cisco's director of product marketing for Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, told CRN in an interview. "We said we'd have a six- to eight-week production ramp and we have delivered on that." 
Several partners told CRN earlier this week that Cisco has pushed back the timeframe for HyperFlex channel shipments indefinitely, after initially telling them they'd receive it in March. 
Brannon acknowledged the shipping delays and said Cisco has responded by stepping up manufacturing of HyperFlex. 
"We're hearing the frustration from partners. They all want to get [HyperFlex] gear into their labs," he said. "We've upped the forecast and are getting the materials to do it. This is definitely temporary."
Over the next two months, Cisco will get HyperFlex onto the two-week lead time between orders and fulfillment that is standard for UCS, Brannon said. 
HyperFlex, unveiled in early March, marries Cisco UCS servers with software-defined storage technology developed in partnership with Springpath, a startup founded by former VMware storage engineers. Springpath's HX Data Platform pools storage from solid-state and conventional hard drives and turns it into an enterprise object storage system. 
Some Cisco partners told CRN they're concerned that version 1.0 of HyperFlex lacks features found in competing offerings, like erasure coding, which breaks up data into chunks and stores them across a range of locations and media types. 
Brannon said Cisco HyperFlex doesn't use erasure coding or RAID storage -- another technology used to boost storage resiliency -- because Springpath's file system is purpose-built for hyper-convergence and offers better performance. 
Partners have also noted that HyperFlex doesn't support all-flash arrays, but Brannon said that's also by design. "We don't want to use all-flash arrays for hyper-convergence because there's a heavy price tax," he said. "Hyper-converged startups are using all-flash in a way that we don't think is efficient."
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