HPE’s Hyperconverged ‘Earthquake’: AMD EPYC Versions Of SimpliVity, Nimble dHCI

‘This is a game changer for anybody who wants a compact, scalable, easy to manage VDI environment with a proven track record,’ says Michael Maher, director of professional services at CPP Associates. ‘The ability to grow the infrastructure and support an increased number of workloads on the same host is unbelievable!’


Hewlett Packard Enterprise has dramatically upped the price performance ante in the intensely competitive hyperconverged market by outfitting both SimpliVity and its Nimble Storage dHCI platforms with AMD’s EPYC Rome processors.

HPE said it has doubled the number of virtual desktops supported per node from 300 to 600 by arming its SimpliVity 325 Gen 10 hyperconverged server with the AMD EPYC Rome processor.The processor – which features up to 64 cores- is also powering a 50 percent lower cost per virtual desktop.

“This is an earthquake,” said Michael Maher, director of professional services at CPP Associates, Clinton, New Jersey, of the market shaking added muscle that the AMD processor brings to SimpliVity and Nimble dHCI. “This is a game changer for anybody who wants a compact, scalable, easy to manage VDI environment with a proven track record. The ability to grow the infrastructure and support an increased number of workloads on the same host is unbelievable! You get 64 cores in a single node with a lower price point. It makes VDI that much more affordable for everybody.”

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[Related: 5 Reasons HPE VDI Is Seeing Surge In Demand Amid Coronavirus Pandemic]

Beside the performance increases that comes with AMD EPYC, the processor lowers VMware software licensing costs for VDI, said Maher. It also significantly slashes data center power and cooling data center costs, said Maher. He sees the new hyperconverged offerings directly addressing the frequent complaint that VDI deployments are too costly to undertake.

“This is a 50 percent decrease in per worker virtual desktop costs,” he said. “If you go to a colocation provider and you were using a 6 kW rack to a 2.0 kW rack your month to month costs go down too and your VMware licensing costs go down. This destroys the long time argument that VDI deployments cost too much”

Erik Krucker, CTO at Comport Consulting, an HPE Platinum partner, No. 333 on the CRN SP500, said the AMD EPYC Rome additions to SimpliVity and Nimble dHCI come at an opportune time given the rise in VDI deployments and the supply issues for some Intel processors. “Customers are looking more closely at AMD,” he said. “It runs faster. It is cheaper and solves some of the supply issues that Intel is facing right now. Pushing down the costs of VDI desktops by this much is awesome.”

In the wake of the pandemic, Comport stepped in with HPE’s assistance to deploy a SimpliVity quickly for a customer that was looking to quickly put together a VDI solution. “HPE worked with us and we got the SimpliVity gear on site really quickly,” said Krucker. “That allowed the customer to get their users working from home up and running fast. HPE has acted quickly to enable customers where the need is the greatest. They have cut through as much red tape as they possibly can to get gear on site quickly or even get us loaners for a short period of time. They have shown tremendous leadership to help us enable our customers.”

The SimpliVity and dHCI updates are virtual targeted squarely at the VDI markets including work at home, medical and emergency services that have experienced a significant increase in demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. HPE is offering the ability for customers to delay payments on SimpliVity and Nimble dHCI for 180 days to help ease the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The ability to address the growing VDI market with an easy to deploy, manage and scale hyperconverged solutions is a “big game changer” for both partners and customers, said Patrick Osborne, vice president and general manager of hyperconverged infrastructure for HPE.

“From a performance perspective, we’re able to address more cores which allows us to double the number of desktops per rack unit,” said Osborne. “Not only can you run more (virtual) desktops, you can run our SimpliVity operating system and data services more efficiently. You get a win on both of those. It’s more cores, more efficiency, more density and all that savings is passed on to our customers.”

HPE is also providing more firepower for its disaggregated Nimble dHCI platform by adding AMD EPYC Rome processors to its HPE ProLiant DL325 and DL385 servers.

Beside the AMD EPYC addition, HPE is offering what it calls “single click” software upgrades for Nimble dHCI using VMware vCenter, eliminating separate storage and server upgrades.

Last but not least, HPE is adding its Nimble dHCI offering to the GreenLake pay per use platform alongside the SimpliVity GreenLake offering in a VM as a service model. That VM as a service GreenLake model is a big advantage in a market where customers are being pummeled by “out of control” public cloud costs, said David Wang, director of product marketing, HPE Storage.

HPE’s dHCI provides customers with a 50 percent reduction in operating costs with improved VDI scale and faster application performance, said Wang. “That’s a net gain opportunity for channel partners,” he said. “We are seeing traction in every geography across the world. It’s exciting to see this expansion of the HCI category we helped lead.”

One of the strengths of Nimble dHCI is its ability to scale storage separately from the compute layer. That means lower VMware licensing costs – a marked competitive advantage for HPE versus hyperconverged competitors such as Dell Technologies VMware VXRail offering. “That has been saving customers a lot of money,”said Wang.

“We’re seeing so much traction (from Nimble dHCI),” Wang said. “Channel partners that traditionally sold just storage are now able to go to customers to sell the full stack solution with the HCI experience with the performance, resilency and efficiency of the three tier (hyperconverged model with compute,storage and networking).”

Chris Harney, CTO of CyberNorth, one of the top hyperconverged infrastructure providers in the Northeast, said he expects the added AMD performance to double CyberNorth’s HPE SimpliVity sales and grow its dHCI business by another 20 percent.

“I love Intel, but AMD is making a comeback,” said Harney, the founder of the largest regional virtualization technology user group in the country. “They are rising back up from lackluster sales. They have some killer code on their processors. We are going from a Ford Mustang to a Ferrari. They are doubling the performance of the hyperconverged engine. This is a performance junkie’s dream and it’s ecologically smarter with lower power and cooling costs. This is a disruptive technology.”

The new hyperconverged offerings from HPE slices in half the IT infrastructure management costs for customers deploying the new products, said Harney. That is providing customers with the ability to redeploy storage administrators to innovating and driving competitive advantages with digital transformation, he said.

“You’re talking about managing half the number of boxes,” Harney said. “We’ve been saying for the last 20 years that 80 percent of the IT budget goes to keeping the lights on and the remaining 20 percent goes to new technology. When you go to hyperconverged you consolidate, simplify and reduce. Now you can actually get back to doing some of the fun stuff like automation and hybrid cloud.”

Harney called HPE SimpliVity the most under-rated product in HPE’s portfolio. “It’s hands down the best kept secret in the HPE toolbox,” he said. “When ever a customer lets us come in and do a POC (proof of concept) with SimpliVity we win the deal. With SimpliVIty you have real in-line (storage) deduplication and compression, unlimited backs and InfoSight predictive analytics. When you look at cost, ease of use and absolute features SimpliVity wins every time.”