HP's Dual Hyper-Converged Strategy: StoreVirtual VSA, VMware EVO: RAIL

Hewlett-Packard Tuesday officially became the latest vendor to join the hyper-converged infrastructure market with the introduction of two new appliances, one based on its own software-defined storage stack and the other on VMware's upcoming EVO: RAIL software stack.

The first, the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual, combines an HP ProLiant server configured with four server nodes in a 2U chassis, the HP StoreVirtual VSA virtual storage appliance, HP OneView converged management, and integration with VMware vSphere, said Craig Nunes, vice president of marketing for HP storage.

The second, the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC EVO: RAIL, uses VMware's pre-integrated EVO: RAIL, introduced at the August VMworld conference. The EVO: RAIL stack includes VMware vSphere, the VMware VSAN (Virtual SAN) storage software, the newly renamed VMware vRealize Log Insight, and the EVO: RAIL engine.

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HP and VMware also are collaborating to extend HP OneView to EVO: RAIL. Future releases of HP OneView are slated to directly manage HP's EVO: RAIL appliance the same as traditional infrastructure deployments.

Nunes admitted that HP already integrates the HP StoreVirtual VSA application with every new ProLiant server sold. However, he said, the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual takes the idea of software-defined data centers a step further by adding the management and VMware integration.

"Channel partners with solid server businesses can use it to sell a complete IT infrastructure without being a storage specialist," he said. "Just wheel the appliance in. It's already set up for virtualization."

The HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual appliance takes the idea of a software-defined data center to a new level, said Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and longtime HP partner.

"This is the software-defined data center in a small form factor," Molina told CRN. "It's very convenient for customers. HP tells me it can set up in 15 minutes. Not weeks. Pretty remarkable."

Molina said it is no surprise HP can bring up the solution within 15 minutes. "HP has a strong alliance with VMware, and has sold the most servers integrated into VMware environments," he said. "A key component to the solution is the integration of HP OneView with VMware's vCenter. That gives one portal for creating new virtual machines."

The HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual scales to up to eight appliances for a total of 32 nodes in a stretched cluster configuration, Nunes said. However, unlike stand-alone hyper-converged infrastructure offerings such as those from Nutanix, it also expands to other parts of the data center, he said.

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"Customers can set up data volumes not only for their virtualized infrastructure, but also address physical storage capacity outside the compute nodes," HP's Nunes said. "Not only do we include killer features, but we have a broader base for customers to stretch across."

The ability to stretch between physical and virtual environments is a potential differentiator between the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual and appliances such as the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC EVO: RAIL and other expected competing solutions based on the VMware EVO: RAIL software stack, he said.

"The HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual expands hyper-converged infrastructure environments across HP 3Par and StoreVirtual environments," he said. "EVO: RAIL is for customers looking at a single software stack from VMware. HP intends to get into this market developing our own intellectual property aggressively."

Nth Generation Computing's Molina said he expects the HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual, when released, to be a more mature offering than VMware EVO: RAIL-based hyper-converged infrastructure appliances.

"We have been integrating StoreVirtual VSA software into VMware environments for five years," he said. "The EVO: RAIL is based on VMware's VSAN storage software. VMware is still on version 1 of VSAN."

The HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC StoreVirtual is slated to ship in December. HP did not disclose pricing. The HP ConvergedSystem 200 HC EVO: RAIL is slated to ship in the first quarter of 2015, with pricing to be unveiled at that time.