The 10 Top Hyper-Converged Platforms Of 2018 (So Far)

CRN breaks down the 10 hottest hyper-converged products making waves in 2018 from the likes of Dell EMC, Nutanix and Pivot3.

Hyper-Converged Boom

Sales from hyper-converged systems hit $1.3 billion in the first quarter 2018, skyrocketing 76 percent year over year as businesses around the globe are increasing investment in data center technologies that eliminate silos and boost business-centric decisions.

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) combines storage, computing, networking and software into a single system aimed at reducing complexity and boosting scalability. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, 20 percent of business-critical applications currently deployed on three-tier IT infrastructure will transition to HCI. The largest IT vendors in the world have been focusing R&D efforts in recent years on creating hyper-converged solutions as many customers steer towards a hybrid cloud approach.

Here are the ten coolest hyper-converged products tearing through the market in 2018.

(For more on the biggest news of 2018, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review.").

Cisco HyperFlex

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant leverages its Unified Computing System (UCS) as the platform for its flagship HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure appliance. HyperFlex, launched in 2016, integrates UCS, UCS Manager, and data and storage management software. This year, Cisco rolled out significant updates to the platform to position the solution for hybrid cloud, tighten integration with software solutions, and add support for containers. One key addition was support for Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor. According to first quarter 2018 market data from IDC, Cisco owns 4.9 percent share of the hyper-converged systems market, generating $60 million in sales for the quarter, up 145 percent year over year.

Dell EMC VxRack SDDC

HCI market share leader Dell EMC has a large product line of hyper-converged solutions, although its VxRack SDDC infrastructure offering is one of the most powerful. The rack-scale software-defined solution is integrated with physical and virtual networking delivered through Cisco switches and VMware NSX software, along with vSphere, vSAN and SDDC Manager. The solution is optimized for predictable performance, scalability and delivering a simple path to hybrid cloud with an automated elastic cloud infrastructure. Customers can also easily create a foundation for a complete VMware private cloud with VxRack SDDC. Dell EMC took home hyper-converged market share gold in the first quarter 2018, capturing nearly 30 percent share with sales topping $363 million, up 142 percent year over year.

Dell EMC XC Core

Dell's new XC Core platform is part of the popular Dell Technologies and Nutanix XC Series of hyper-converged solutions. The XC Core uses the same Dell EMC hardware and software as the XC Series appliances, but the software is licensed and support directly by Nutanix. The new solution, based on Dell PowerEdge servers, lets customers buy Nutanix software licenses from channel partners and then add the licenses to pre-validated XC Core systems that are configured, built and tested by Dell. The XC Series have been deployed by thousands of customers in almost every major vertical thanks to its ability to tailor processors, memory and storage configurations to meet specific use cases.

HPE SimpliVity

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's primary hyper-converged offering HPE SimpliVity drives around 80 percent of the company's total HCI revenue. HPE SimpliVity, managed by VMware vCenter, is based on a software-defined scale-out storage architecture that can scale from a single node to eight clustered nodes plus an additional 16 network-only nodes. It features always-on in-line compression and deduplication data services leveraging the HPE OmniStack Accelerator Card to provide consistent performance for virtualized production workloads. In June, the Palo Alto Calif.-based company said it plans to bring its InfoSight predictive analytics software to SimpliVity by the end of 2018. HPE captured 5 percent of the hyper-converged market in first quarter 2018 reaching $61 million in sales, up 112 percent year over year.

Maxta Hyperconvergence Software

Maxta's hyperconvergence software supports every major server brand -- including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell EMC and Cisco -- as well as multiple hypervisors and containers. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor's application-centric platform allows customers to choose software only or have the software pre-installed on existing server platforms with the ability to scale storage and compute independently. With application-defined performance policies, customers can easily consolidate different applications on the same cluster while improving performance. Maxta recently joined forces with distributor Arrow Electronics to offer hyper-converged bundled, pre-configured systems on servers from Intel, Dell, Lenovo and Supermicro.

Nutanix Era

In Gartner's first-ever Magic Quadrant for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure this year, the research firm named Nutanix as the top-ranked leader in both execution and vision. With nearly 8,000 HCI customers, the hyper-converged pioneer launched in May a new set of cloud Platform-as-a-Service offerings, dubbed Nutanix Era, built around its hyper-converged solutions. Era provides automated database provisioning and lifecycle management. The solution extends Nutanix's Enterprise Cloud OS software stack beyond core Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities for private cloud environments to platform-layer services that brings one-click simplicity to database operations. Nutanix Era also includes new "time-machine" capabilities tied to application-specific APIs for creating point-in-time database copies. The feature enables application developers to quickly select the exact database copy they need while also helping administrators to restore or refresh any database instance.

Pivot3 Acuity X3 Series

Pivot3 launched its new Acuity X3 Series of HCI solutions this year aimed at bringing enterprise-grade features to the SMB, remote and branch office, and edge markets. Acuity X3 allows organizations to consolidate multiple, mixed-application workloads onto a single infrastructure to help lower cost and reduce footprint. The solution contains a suite of data services including efficient erasure coding, data protection, data reduction and integration with VMware vSphere and vCenter for database applications, virtual desktops and edge processing. The 1U form factor Acuity X3 provides the same features found in Pivot3's Acuity X5 Series, based on NVMe flash architecture, which includes policy-based Quality of Service that automates performance and data protection operations.

Scale Computing HC3

Scale Computing's turnkey HC3 hyper-converged infrastructure offering has become a force to be reckoned with in the midmarket with more than 2,500 customers. HC3 integrates storage, servers and virtualization software into an all-in-on application based system that can be installed in under an hour and upgraded with no downtime. Scale allows users to mix and match different nodes in a high-availability cluster that scales from three to eight HC3 nodes with the ability to centrally manage up to 25 clusters. The Indianapolis, Ind.-based vendor has recently introduced Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, Infrastructure as-a-Service and Remote Management as-a-Service capabilities for partners in its new MSP Program.

Stratoscale Symphony

Stratoscale Symphony is hardware-neutral, hyper-converged software that bridges a service-driven hybrid cloud ecosystem delivering on-premise platforms while maintaining compatibility with public cloud titan AWS. Symphony converges all resources into a single solution by transforming on-premise infrastructure into an elastic Infrastructure as-a-Service. "Stratoscale created a fully managed hyper-converged platform that is looking beyond yesterday's legacy applications and looking at cloud-native applications," said Stratoscale founder and CEO Ariel Maislos, in a recent interview with CRN. "We're providing the ability to run virtualized workloads and having multiple storage functions for object storage, file storage, block storage that are all AWS-compatible." Maislos said Stratoscale plans to extend into Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure platforms in 2018.

VMware vSAN 6.7

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization leader revamped its popular vSAN software-defined storage solution this year for the HCI market with the launch of vSAN 6.7. New features include a HTML 5 user interface and the ability to integrate its performance and capacity monitoring capabilities with VMware's vCenter management platform. The vSAN 6.7 was designed to bring more workloads to the platform with an emphasis on cloud-native applications. The revamped product will also be included in Dell EMC VxRail appliances. Named a Leader in Gartner's HCI Magic Quadrant, VMware was the market leader for first quarter 2018 in terms of software ownership of hyper-converged systems. The company captured 37 percent market share by generating $456 million in HCI software revenues, up 110 percent year over year.