Startup SimpliVity Tackles Converged Infrastructure With Integrated Server, Storage, Networking

Storage startup SimpliVity on Monday came out of stealth mode with a new converged infrastructure solution which puts server, storage and networking resources into a single appliance that can be managed by a VMware administrator with no specialized training.

That solution, the OmniCube, integrates with VMware's vCenter platform for providing automated management in virtual and cloud infrastructures to make it easy for non-storage, non-server administrators to use, said Doron Kempel, founder of the Westborough, Mass.-based company.

The idea for OmniCube sprang from the realization that IT is too complex, and that small and midsize companies have trouble purchasing technology from multiple vendors and managing it in a single pane of glass, Kempel said.

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"We developed a new IT infrastructure stack from the ground up," he said. "It includes the software and a hardware accelerator card with all the functions a midrange company needs."

The OmniCube is a 2U rack mount system that includes 10 Intel processor cores combined with eight 3-TB hard drives and four 200-GB SSDs, along with the necessary networking resources, as well as a hardware accelerator for high-performance operation.

The heart of the OmniCube, however, is software developed by SimpliVity that provides deduplication of primary, backup, archiving and WAN-optimized storage. The software also provides a cloud gateway that allows it to tie to virtual server instances in the Amazon cloud.

"The OmniCube features virtual machine centricity," Kempel said. "It allows users to move virtual machines and their data across multiple data center, and allows data to be sent to the Amazon cloud. Customers can assign policies to the virtual machines to specify how the data is protected."

The software currently includes the Amazon cloud as part of its dropdown menu on where the data lives but could include other clouds in the future, he said.

NEXT: Putting Converged Infrastructure In A Single Box

For companies that already have a VMware vCenter administrator, learning to use and manage the OmniCube is as easy as learning to drive a new rental car, SimpliVity's Kempel said.

"The IT administrator may have five to 20 people reporting to her, but she can't afford to spend a lot of time on purchasing, managing and training for new IT," Kempel said. "With OmniCube, you install one, and all the functionality is instantly available. All the functionality is in the hands of a single administrator. If she understands VMware, she doesn't need training."

Scott Robinson, president of Xioss, a Las Vegas-based solution provider, said he is intrigued by the concept of SimpliVity's OmniCube despite not yet having had a chance to see the actual product.

Robinson, who was CTO at Chanhassen, Minn.-based Datalink when that solution provider was the biggest channel partner of Kempel's former company, Diligent Technologies, said SimpliVity has brought the acceleration and deduplication technology that other startups are developing together with the ability to scale out in performance.

"It is very tightly coupled to VMware's management console and includes the processors, which can be used to run virtual machines," Robinson said. "I want to get my hands on it to test it out."

Robinson said the OmniCube is targeted primarily at midrange customers and at remote offices in enterprises, making it a good alternative to more expensive converged infrastructures such as VCE's Vblock and the NetApp and Cisco FlexPod solutions.

"The OmniCube has a similar architecture, but all in a single box," he said. "So, instead of a $1 million-plus price point, it comes in at a much smaller price point."

The OmniCube, which will formally be introduced at next week's VMworld conference, was designed to scale globally, and so multiple units can be installed in the same data center or across multiple data centers, all managed through the same management window, Kempel said.

"It's managed as if it was developed by rational people who understand VMware environments," he said. "So our session at VMworld is named, 'What Would IT Infrastructure Look Like Had A VMware Administrator Designed It.'"

The OmniCube is currently in beta, and it is expected to be in general availability this year. Pricing is slated to be about $55,000 per unit, which includes all the software functionality.

NEXT: Getting Ready For The Channel

SimpliVity's Kempel is no stranger to the storage market. He was a vice president and general manger at EMC for years, and he left the company to found Diligent Technology, a developer of deduplication technology that was acquired by IBM in 2008.

SimpliVity is currently looking to recruit solution providers. Kempel said the company will go to market with a channel-only model and has hired Rich Shea, a former channel executive at EqualLogic and LeftHand, as its vice president of sales.

"We want to make VARs super happy with what we offer," he said. "It's a robust, highly functional and high-margin product with great support and no channel conflicts. It's how we did business with EqualLogic and Diligent in the past."

SimpliVity comes out of stealth after raising $18 million in venture capital.