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Scale Computing, APC Jointly Develop HCI-Based ‘Micro Data Center In A Box’ Offering

The offering combines Scale Computing's HC1150 hyper-converged infrastructure appliances with APC's racks, UPSs, and network management technology that is shipped fully integrated by Ingram Micro.

Hyper-converged infrastructure technology developer Scale Computing is partnering with data center power management vendor APC by Schneider Electric to bring what they call a new micro data center-in-a-box offering to channel partners.

The new micro data center in a box will be integrated by distributor Ingram Micro for direct delivery to clients of channel partners looking for a fast way to deploy a complete data center infrastructure at remote and branch offices and other areas where local IT support is not easily available, the two vendors said.

The new offering is being unveiled during the Midsize Enterprise Summit conference held this week in San Diego, which is produced by CRN publisher The Channel Company.

Scale Computing is seeing much larger customers adopt its hyper-converged infrastructure technology than just three or four years ago, and they are dealing with an increasing number of endpoints, said Doug Howell, director of global alliances for the Indianapolis, Ind.-based company.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Scale Computing CEO On Attacking VMware's Virtualization Licensing Model And In The Process Saving Customers $32M]

"Working with APC allows us to talk to customers with tens or hundreds or thousands of endpoints," Howell told CRN. "And working with Ingram Micro on integration is key. In the morning, there's nothing at the customer site. In the afternoon, there may be a complete solution down to the cabling. And the customer can deploy 100 in a day."

This is not the first time Scale Computing and APC have worked together on micro data centers.

The two companies in December unveiled such a partnership, but it also included technology from Lenovo and Microsoft, and was targeted primarily at customers in certain European geographies, said Scale Computing CEO Jeff Ready.

"It was a trial balloon," Ready told CRN. "It went well. Now we're expanding it significantly."

The new offering is based on Scale Computing's HC1150, Howell said. The HC1150 includes eight to ten compute cords, up to 256 GBs of RAM, and up to 24 TBs of hard disk and 1.92 TBs of SSD raw capacity.

Ready said the micro data center in a box is a single SKU, but customers can define such things as the memory or capacity. It comes with a default count of three HC1150 nodes, but the racks have space for adding further nodes.

APC by Schneider Electric is working with Scale Computing to build a data center in a box offering that are ready to deploy with racks, UPS, the company's NetBotz network monitoring technology, and other components, said Cissy Walker, global director of IT alliances for the West Kingston, R.I.-based data center power management vendor.

"Scale is utilizing its HC3 appliance with our infrastructure as an easy-to-use, ready-to-deploy solutions for customers with remote environments but not a lot of IT support," Walker told CRN. "It's a fast, dependable solution for these kind of environments."

The new micro data center in a box offering features a choice of 18U or 24U NetShelter racks from APC. Ingram Micro handles the racking and stacking of the offering, and ships them completely integrated, Walker said.

Eventually, a smaller 6U version may be available for edge deployments, Ready said.

The new offering is available via channel partners of either Scale Computing or APC, Howell said. If a Scale Computing solution provider that is not certified with APC sees an opportunity, it can work with the vendor to bring it to customers, and vice versa, he said.

"This is a meet-in-the-channel relationship," he said. "It's a great win for both of us. Partners who are not exposed to APC can do it, and vice versa. We're not trying to make this complicated. Channel partners say they want a data center in a box. Ingram Micro handles the integration. The partner places an order, and knows exactly what's going to be in the box."

The micro data center in a box is currently available as a single SKU with only one configuration for simplicity, Howell said. "Down the road, we'll allow tweaking," he said.

Within 60 days, Scale Computing hopes to be working with ISV partners looking to bundle other capabilities onto the offering including virtual desktop infrastructure and encryption, Howell said.

"These are two things hot for customers with remote offices and branch offices," he said. "We wanted to crawl before we walk or sprint."

Walker said APC will eventually add UPS options, including more redundancy or larger capacities. "If a customer says they need more, we won't say we can't do it," she said.

The joint Scale Computing and APC micro data center in a box is an offering that makes complete sense, said James Aldridge, chief technology officer and VP of technology at Matrix Integration, a Jasper, Ind.-based solution provider that works with both vendors.

"I follow Scale Computing because of its focus on simplicity," Aldridge told CRN. "They are already known for data center simplicity, not just for virtual machines, but also for snapshots and disaster recovery. And it makes sense for APC which has been doing integrated data center offerings in the past."

The new micro data center in a box addresses a big gap in the market, Aldridge said.

"As channel partners, we still have to do traditional design for remote office and branch office users," he said. "We need solution engineers doing that design to make sure we get the right UPS and the right cables. There's a lot involved. But if they can do this for us, it lowers our costs and creates efficiencies. Plus, we're an Ingram Micro partner. So this is really good for us."

Channel partners, however, still do the implementation, Aldridge said.

"If we're not having to focus on the integration of the components, we can better focus on the deployment and migration parts," he said. "This is a better use of our time, and better for our customers."

The offering also fits Matrix Integration's managed services business, Aldridge said.

"On our MSP side, we're focused on remote offices and branch offices," he said. "We want as many 'rinse-and-repeat' offerings as possible. If we can do that, it increases our success."

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