Hyper-Converged Infrastructure: So Many New Solutions Coming

The June move by Austin, Texas-based Nimboxx to break its silence and declare its exit from stealth mode as the latest startup to unveil a hyper-converged infrastructure solution was only the first in what is likely to be a steady stream of new vendors entering this market in 2014.

The second half of the year will see several entrants into the buzz-worthy hyper-converged infrastructure business, including a few that have been hinted at by such vendors as EMC, Dell and Yottabyte, and a couple that may have been hiding in the dark from companies such as VMware and Cisco Systems.

Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions take a software-defined approach to many of the key components of a data center, including compute, storage, networking and other resources, and ties that software to a commodity x86-based server.

[Related: Now You're Talking: How Converged Infrastructure Has Changed The Channel Conversation]

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EMC in May confirmed earlier reports in CRN that it is building a hyper-converged infrastructure technology code-named "Project Mystic," setting the stage for a battle pitting the storage giant against multiple startups that already have grabbed the high ground in this market.

David Goulden, CEO of EMC Information Infrastructure, told solution providers at the EMC Global Partner Summit that EMC will have a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance by the end of 2014. "It will be very competitive to products starting with 'N' or 'S,'" he said, referring to Nutanix and SimpliVity.

VMware, which is majority-owned by EMC, is also looking to get into the hyper-converged infrastructure fray with "Project Marvin."

In June, an engineer visiting the VMware campus tweeted a photo of what appeared to be a poster announcing VMware's "Marvin." The poster appeared to be a teaser for a hyper-converged appliance. The text at the top read, "Introducing the worlds first 100% vmware powered hyper converged infrastructure appliance (sic)."

Marvin is "arriving Summer 2014," according to the poster.

VMware told CRN shortly after the story about "Marvin" was published that the poster is no longer visible, leading to channel speculation that the poster may have been displayed specifically to build buzz around the offering.

CRN in June also reported that Cisco appears to be getting ready to launch a more entry-level version of its UCS server line, giving it a new tool for expanding its server business and possibly for entering the hyper-converged infrastructure market.

That new server, dubbed by some in the channel as the "mini-UCS," could be used as the base for a hyper-converged infrastructure solution combining it with Cisco's networking technology and Cisco's Invicta storage technology. Such a move could make Cisco a competitor against long-term partners such as EMC, VMware and NetApp.

Dell in June unveiled a plan to resell Nutanix's hyper-converged appliance, and by the end of the year plans to offer its own Dell-branded solution that ties the Nutanix software stack to a Dell server under an OEM deal.

But Dell is not stopping there. The company is also working on a new project, code-named "Blue Thunder," that ties technology from several partners including Red Hat's OpenStack and Ceph solutions, Nexenta's ZFS storage software and Cloudera's Hadoop big data software, into converged infrastructure offerings.

Finally, Bloomfield Township, Mich.-based Yottabyte has expanded its software-defined storage technology into a full-blown hyper-converged infrastructure software stack called yCenter.

yCenter abstracts and merges resources from individual commodity servers to present them as configurable classes of virtual storage, virtual compute and virtual network capacity. It operates on a scale-out, globally deduplicated and distributed platform.

yCenter is currently in production as a cloud and hosted service. However, the company told CRN that an appliance version, the 1000 series YottaBlox, is slated to ship in the fourth quarter of 2014 for hybrid or private cloud implementations.

This article originally appeared as an exclusive on the CRN Tech News App for iOS and Windows 8.