SimpliVity Promises Remote Office Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Ease, Details Lenovo Partnership

Doron Kempel

Hyper-converged infrastructure technology developer SimpliVity on Wednesday unveiled the third generation of its OmniStack platform with an emphasis on working better in remote offices and increasing the protection of data stored in its appliances.

Underpinning the new features is a new five-point guarantee that SimpliVity will provide certain levels of storage efficiency, protection, simplicity, manageability and availability, although the company did not provide details about how it would enforce the guarantees, beyond the fact that they would be covered under the company's existing warranty terms.

The Westborough, Mass.-based company also provided details of SimpliVity's new technology relationship with China-based Lenovo, a relationship that was first reported by CRN last week.

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The release of SimpliVity's OmniStack 3.0 comes after the tenth full quarter of sales following a 43-month investment in the development of the original solution, said SimpliVity CEO Doron Kempel, who will be featured in a keynote interview at the upcoming Best of Breed 2015 Conference, hosted by CRN publisher The Channel Company.

"We took two more years to develop the foundation than [rival] Nutanix did," Kempel told CRN. "It takes time to get it right. When you build a skyscraper, you have to first build a solid foundation."

New to SimpliVity OmniStack 3.0 is optimization for remote office and branch office use as a way to reduce the expense of managing such offices, Kempel said. "We let the central office manage all the offices, and look at all the screens from one office," he said. "This extends the number of sites that can be managed at once."

This new capability allows a business to have solutions deployed in dozens of sites with dynamic network discovery so that additional units can be added easily in the field, Kempel said. "We also allow backing up and restoring to and from multiple locations with VMware vCenter," he said. "A similar capability for Microsoft Hyper-V is coming."

The ability to manage hyper-converged infrastructure appliances consistently across multiple remote and branch offices is crucial for customers, said Mike Davis, vice president of technology at Broadleaf Services, a Billerica, Mass.-based solution provider and SimpliVity channel partner.

"If I have 25 workers at a remote location, they don't want to be treated as second-class citizens," Davis told CRN. "If the CEO wants to go from one location to another, he or she expects the same performance as at headquarters. Same for any knowledge worker."

Other data protection capabilities and new functionality for virtual desktop infrastructure in remote and branch offices are coming soon, Kempel promised. "If you are a company looking at a large VDI deployment, we suggest you put the project on hold and wait for us to come out with our new technology."

On the data protection side, the SimpliVity OmniStack 3.0 also includes file-level restore and enhanced backup policy management as a way to set up policies for protecting data across multiple devices and virtual machines.

Kempel also said SimpliVity plans to continue pushing the technology curve for hyper-converged infrastructures with five guarantees.

These include a guarantee that customers will see a 90 percent reduction in storage capacity when an OmniStack appliance is deployed compared with traditional storage solutions; that a local backup or restoration of a virtual machine up to 1 TB in size will take less than one minute; that three clicks within VMware vCenter is enough to handle a virtual machine backup, restoration, movement or cloning; that backup policies for thousands of virtual machines across dozens of sites can be created or updated in less than a minute on average; and that a SimpliVity OmniStack system can be deployed or replaced without downtime or disruption.

SimpliVity's five guarantees are actually not that hard for the vendor to make, Davis said.

"For a test, SimpliVity asked us to bring in a new virtual machine the company had never seen," he said. "We brought in a 4-GB virtual machine, which they sent across the country to San Francisco in under a minute using only 75 KBs of bandwidth. Then they told me to run the VM, and it worked."

"Once a virtual machine gets on one side or the other in a multi-site SimpliVity deployment, it gets really effective and fast to get data from one end to the other," Davis said.

"Now we're moving from saying it is cool, to letting us show you how cool it is, to guaranteeing this is cool," he said.

Kempel said his company's new relationship with several vendors is different from its relationships with its two other technology partners, Cisco and Dell.

With Lenovo, that vendor is developing three configurations combining Lenovo server hardware with SimpliVity software that are slated to start shipping in the fourth quarter, with the two vendors doing joint marketing of the solution via Lenovo's solution provider partners, he said.

With Cisco, on the other hand, there is no co-marketing, Kempel said. Instead, Cisco channel partners can add the SimpliVity software and a proprietary card to Cisco UCS servers for clients instead of selling the integrated SimpliVity hardware appliance, he said.

SimpliVity's relationship with Dell is more of an OEM partnership under which SimpliVity builds its hyper-converged infrastructure appliances with Dell server hardware, Kempel said.