SimpliVity CEO Urges VARs To Dive In With Hyper-Converged

SimpliVity CEO Doron Kempel is urging solution providers to embrace the red-hot, hyper-converged infrastructure market, even if, on the surface, solutions like SimpliVity's OmniCube appear to cannibalize some of resellers' traditional network and infrastructure sales.

"Most partners that you speak with love the [SimpliVity] story, but then they say, 'Wait, I sell all the stuff [you are converging]," Kempel said Thursday at an annual tech summit held by Vology, an Oldsmar, Fla.-based SimpliVity solution provider. "There is a little bit of ambivalence among partners."

SimpliVity specializes in what's known as hyper-converged infrastructure, or systems featuring compute storage, networking, virtualization and sometimes other resources that run on commodity, x86-based hardware.

[Related: SimpliVity Debuts Channel Program To Scale Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Business]

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The idea is that hyper-converged offerings like SimpliVity's drastically simplify IT operations by allowing customers to manage their infrastructures as a whole, rather than through separate management systems.

Kempel said hyper-converged solutions differ from more traditional converged infrastructures in that they not only combine servers and storage, but also purpose-built appliances, such as WAN optimization devices, backup systems and cloud gateways.

According to Kempel, some solution providers have been hesitant to sell hyper-converged solutions, fearing that the all-in-one offerings would eat into -- and eventually dissolve -- sales of those purpose-built devices. Vology, however, was one solution provider that decided to take that chance.

"Vology falls into a unique category of partners who has not hesitated," Kempel told the roughly 300 Vology customers at the event.

Barry Shevlin, founder and CEO of Vology, which was ranked No. 139 on CRN's 2014 Solution Provider 500 list, said his company recognized an opportunity with SimpliVity, and hyper-converged systems, in general, very early on.

"We watched them early," Shevlin told CRN. "We were looking at them right when they came out of stealth at VMworld two years ago, before they were even shipping products. It really looked like something that could be special."

While the SimpliVity partnership is still early on, Shevlin said it's a bet he is confident will pay off.

"We are believers of the technology," he said. "I don’t think, in the last four hours, I have heard anything talked about more than those hyper-converged solutions. That tells me a lot."

Vology isn't the only solution provider aligning itself with SimpliVity. As of July, when SimpliVity introduced its first formal partner program, the Westborough, Mass.-based vendor had already signed on 200 solution provider partners.

SimpliVity, founded in 2009, is turning to the channel as a means to scale and turn up the heat against rivals, including Nutanix and virtualization giant VMware, who in August unveiled its own hyper-converged system called EVO:RAIL.

Kempel said some of the partners that have signed on with SimpliVity are completely new to the infrastructure market, in general, and saw OmniCube as a way to quickly ramp up. He said this could be because SimpliVity doesn’t require a lengthy partner training or certification process, while some vendor processes can take upward of 18 months.

SimpliVity began shipping OmniCube last April after 43 months of product development. The system runs on Dell's x86 server hardware, but SimpliVity also inked a deal in August to combine its OmniStack software and its proprietary hardware card with Cisco's UCS C240 rack-mount servers.

To date, SimpliVity has shipped more than 1,000 OmniCube systems. According to Kempel, 65 percent of SimpliVity customers are using OmniCube to run 100 percent of their IT operations.

"In 65 percent of the cases, these customers have basically replaced everything, when they got to a refresh cycle, with anywhere from four to 20 cubes," Kempel said Thursday. "They are running everything."