HPE Turns Up The HCI Edge Heat On Dell-VMware

‘From an edge experience perspective, it is a first—a comprehensive 2RU platform for the edge, which allows for centralized deployment, management and backup consolidated towards the public cloud,’ says HPE Vice President Omer Asad. ‘When you combine it with GreenLake, it is essentially branch or edge as a service.’


Hewlett Packard Enterprise Wednesday turned up the edge computing heat on rival Dell Technologies with SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) edge computing enhancements including support for Kuberntes containers and cloud-native backup.

The HPE SimpliVity 4.1.0 update enables SimpliVity to run both container and VMware virtual machine workloads at the edge with a Kubernetes container plugin and adds cloud-native backup from multiple edge sites through HPE Cloud Volumes.

The SimpliVity enhancements also include centralized application and data replication support from the HPE StoreOnce appliance for compliance and long-term data retention. HPE said all of the new capabilities are supported with VMware vSphere 7.0.

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The new HPE edge architecture enhancements—which take edge applications from a three-tier architecture to a consolidated HCI solution—provide the industry’s first edge “simplified deployment” architecture, said HPE Vice President and General Manager of HCI and Primary Storage Omer Asad.

“From an edge experience perspective, it is a first—a comprehensive 2RU platform for the edge, which allows for centralized deployment, management and backup consolidated towards the public cloud,” said Asad. “When you combine it with [HPE’s] GreenLake [on-premises cloud pay-per-use service], it is essentially branch or edge as a service.”

Ultimately, the centralized HCI SimpliVity edge architecture is driving a three to four times increase in return on investment from competitive offerings stuck in legacy edge architectures, said Asad.

The architectural breakthrough enables solution providers and CIOs to deploy, back up and monitor hundreds of edge sites in a completely automated fashion from a centralized data center or location, said Asad.

“From a central console you have the ability to deploy hundreds of edge sites, which are completely automated,” said Asad. “You deploy them from the data center. You automatically back them up in a consolidated fashion at the data center. You monitor them at the data center. Whether your applications are VMware-based, whether they are containerized, whether they are stateless or stateful, you don’t have to make any compromises. It is that one single deployment for your distributed edge in a very, very consolidated channel-friendly manner.”

The pandemic has accelerated the need for a simple centralized HCI edge architecture, said Asad. “SimpliVity is a system designed with edge in mind with regards to zero-touch and fewer people needed to service it,” Osad said.

HPE’s SimpliVity system delivers high availability in the “most compact form factor” at the edge with two nodes versus five to seven nodes with competitive offerings, said HPE Vice President of Storage Marketing Sandeep Singh.

With the SimpliVity enhancements, HPE provides the “most comprehensive, built-in data protection” at the edge locally, distributed across multiple sites and via the cloud—all centrally managed, said Singh.

SimpliVity also comes with a “hyper-efficiency guarantee,” which is driving dramatic savings for customers, said Singh. That HPE guarantee commits to a 90 percent capacity savings, a less-than-one- minute-on-average guarantee to complete a local restore of a 1-TB virtual machine, and a three-click guarantee to backup, restore, clone or move a VM.

HPE’s edge architecture also includes robust secured wireless and wired networking at the edge with Aruba, said Singh. “When you combine all of that with the needs of the enterprise edge, it brings a distinct advantage for customers to partner with HPE,” said Singh.

HPE said its edge security architecture does not expose the storage and data layer to the operating system, protecting SimpliVity from ransomware. In addition, HPE supports data-in-place encryption that is FIPS 140-2 security compliant.

The HPE edge HCI improvements come with Dell and HPE engaged in a bitter hyperconverged systems battle. In the third quarter of 2020, HPE increased its worldwide hyperconverged systems revenue by 16.3 percent with $262.7 million in sales. That compares with a 4.7 percent worldwide hyperconverged systems revenue decline for Dell with $676.8 million in sales in the third calendar quarter, according to IDC. HPE’s hyperconverged systems sales increase resulted in a nearly 2-point increase in market share to 12.9 percent, according to IDC. Dell’s market share, meanwhile, dropped about 2 points to 33.2 percent.

Dell last year unveiled its first edge-oriented VxRail D-Series hyperconverged system. The ruggedized VxRail D-Series is the smallest and lightest VxRail system at a starting price point of approximately $20,000 per three-node cluster with one year of ProSupport. The D-Series is only 20 inches deep and designed for the edge to withstand extreme temperatures, sustain 40G of operational shock and operate at up to 15,000 feet.

The new simplified SimpliVity architecture provides a competitive advantage for HPE, said Pat O’Dell, general manager and managing partner for CPP Associates, a Clinton, N.J., HPE Platinum partner and winner of HPE’s U.S. North America Solution Provider of the Year award in 2019.

“When you are working at the edge where there is less IT personnel, less complexity is needed,” he said. “SimpliVity now provides less nodes to get to high availability, more automation, and easy scalability and administration. That all adds up when you get to the edge where you don’t have trained IT personnel. Simpler is better, and that is what HPE SimpliVity provides.”

The new HPE offering raises the stakes in the HCI battle and brings more options to customers looking to take advantage of all possible avenues with hybrid cloud, including on-premises backup and recovery and public cloud backup with cloud volumes, said O’Dell. “This definitely is a very substantial move forward for HPE,” he said.

“I believe HPE has the most complete vision for edge to cloud Platform as a Service and the consumption model,” said O’Dell. “GreenLake is getting better and better with every iteration. It is growing rapidly. We feel very comfortable with HPE, their management team and their ability to execute. The fact they are No. 1 and No. 2 in almost every key Gartner and IDC ranking is very important.”

The new HPE simplified edge HCI architecture comes with an increasing amount of workloads moving to the edge, said O’Dell. “That edge momentum is happening,” he said. “There is nothing that can stop that. As you get to the edge with remote offices and sites, there are less and less trained IT personnel. So the automation, easy management and scale that SimpliVity provides is critical.”

One CPP customer that grew its business by 50 percent even in the midst of the pandemic is using SimpliVity because it is “easy to scale, automate and administer,” said O’Dell. “What HPE is doing with these latest enhancements is giving more options to customers whether they want to back up on- premises [or] use Cloud Volumes in the public cloud. You can now manage, back up and protect your data with multiple options. The beauty of SimpliVity is it gives customers a lot of options without a lot of complexity.”

O’Dell said he expects CPP Associates’ SimpliVity sales to be up double digits this year. Among the CPP SimpliVity deals in the pipeline, he said, is a company that is standardizing on the platform and another that is adding more SimpliVity nodes to support remote branches, he said.

“There is so much movement to the edge that SimpliVity’s simplicity really makes a lot of sense,” said O’Dell. “Companies can now get up and running quicker, they can administer it quicker and they can scale it quicker. Being able to do high availability with less nodes is symbolic of the things that SimpliVity does well. Having less nodes in general means it is easier.”

HPE has about a two-year lead over competitors in the HCI edge architecture battle, said Asad, with integrated cloud backup and the ability to deploy and manage from the data center. GreenLake and HPE Pointnext services also provide considerable competitive advantages for partners and customers, he said.

“When you combine all of these things together in terms of reach, availability, technology advantage and simplification of the stack that runs with integrated capabilities, I think the lead we have is easily about two years,” said Asad.