6 Leading HCI Vendors In The Midmarket And Their Key Differentiators

As more midsize enterprises seek hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, here are the six vendors and their market differentiators that are winning the midmarket.

HCI Midmarket Leaders

Midsize enterprises are picking hyper-converged infrastructure over traditional three-tier solutions due to better total cost of ownership and native capabilities such as disaster recovery and centralized management.

The hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) market is experiencing 45 percent annual growth, according to Gartner’s Midmarket Context report for HCI, with rapid innovation in terms of server, storage and software from vendors large and small. A recent poll from Gartner found that 46 percent of midsize enterprise leaders have HCI deployed in production or in a test development environment. The IT research firm said finite staffing levels and budgets necessitate that midsize enterprises need right-sized, cost-effective and simple operational solutions to fit their hyper-converged needs.

Here are the six companies Gartner identified as the midmarket HCI players that midsize enterprises need to know along with assessments of key market differentiators.

Cisco Systems

Leader: Chuck Robbins, Chairman, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: HyperFlex

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant’s 2016 breakthrough HyperFlex offering combines Cisco’s software HX Data Platform with its UCS server portfolio along with integrated fabric networking. HyperFlex is sold as a fully integrated appliance that supports VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors. The offering is available as a bundle with Cisco’s cloud management platform, CloudCenter. Earlier this year, Cisco rolled out several updates to HyperFlex including AppDynamics for monitoring across multiple clouds. Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins spoke to CRN this month about the company’s vision around hyper-convergence, intent-based networking and the Internet of Things.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: Cisco’s large size offers one-stop shopping and support across various IT domains for the midmarket. Customers can leverage HyperFlex as the building block to Cisco’s Data Center Anywhere portfolio for seamless integration of multi-cloud orchestration and software-defined WAN, to name a few. Cisco also has a rich channel partner ecosystem as well as a slew of validated offerings with companies including Cohesity, Commvault and Veeam to address secondary storage, disaster recovery and data protection.

Dell Technologies

Leader: Michael Dell, Founder, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: VxRail

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell owns the market-leading HCI offering, VxRail, a tightly integrated platform co-engineered with VMware. Dellowned approximately 28.6 percent of worldwide HCI market share in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to research firm IDC. VxRail is available as a fully integrated appliance series for a variety of use cases including edge and remote offices. VMware Manager comes preinstalled with a dashboard for automating VxRail deployment and configuration. Dell EMC President, Global Channel, OEM and IoT Solutions Joyce Mullen spoke to CRN this month about the company’s HCI momentum, improving VMware synergies and cloud strategy.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: Dell EMC has lowered the entry point and price point for HCI to allow midsize clients to start with a two-node VxRail cluster. Gartner said the company has significantly improved its pre- and post-sales support for VxRail last year via channel partners. Dell has also broadened its PowerEdge server model and choices for HCI appliances while simplifying life-cycle management through VxRail Manager Automation enhancements.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Leader: Antonio Neri, President, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: HPE SimpliVity

San Jose, Calif.-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s current flagship offering, HPE SimpliVity, include hyper-converged appliances based on feature-rich and scalable HCI software. In addition to medium and large all-flash models, HPE SimpliVity provides midmarket offerings in single and dual-socket variations as well as flexible configurations for cost-effective options for midsize enterprises. The offering supports VMware and Hyper-V hypervisors and is designed to consolidate multiple workloads on one platform. In a potential blockbuster hyper-converged move, HPE this year formed a strategic partnership with Nutanix, which many channel partners said takes aim at Dell. In a recent interview with CRN, HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri said he was proud of the company’s financial results compared with its HCI competitors.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: HPE SimpliVity has robust storage efficiency and data reduction services with always-on global deduplication and compression that leverage its OmniStack Accelerator Card or in a software-only version. The company has easy-to-navigate choices of all flash appliances and supports midsize enterprises globally through its broad reach of channel partners.


Leader: Dheeraj Pandey, Founder, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: Enterprise Cloud Platform

The hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary on stage in front of a record crowd of more than 6,000 attendees at Nutanix .NEXT in May. Nutanix continues to be a leader in hyper-convergence through its innovative Enterprise Cloud Platform that uses native AHV Virtualization with Nutanix’s software-defined storage, compute, data security, software-defined networking and management software. San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix continuously launches new software and capabilities such as Nutanix Calm for application orchestration, Files for unstructured data, Flow for software-defined networking and security, and Xi Beam for multi-cloud governance and cost control. Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey recently told CRN that his company will outlast any “naysayers” with his eyes set on long-term growth.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: Midmarket customers will find Nutanix AHV hypervisor to be an attractive lower-cost alternative to VMware’s ESXi, with a comparable feature set and easy migration path, according to Gartner. Nutanix provides a robust management and self-service management interface in Prism while supporting hybrid cloud for via Xi Leap for Disaster Recovery as a Service.


Leader: Ron Nash, President, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: Acuity Platform

Last year, the Austin, Texas-based HCI specialist launched its entry-level Acuity X3 Edge/Micro Datacenter small form factor with fully redundant three-node configurations at a starting price tag of $55,000. Pivot3’s HCI Acuity Platform has policy-based management featuring data protection, data security and nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) flash caching that can run multiple and mixed application workloads. The company’s intelligent hybrid cloud and Cloud Edition for AWS provide multiple options to leverage AWS for storage replication and backup. Earlier this year, the company nabbed Dell EMC’s Dan Flood to lead Pivot3’s U.S. sales charge.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: Gartner said midsize enterprises have praised Pivot3’s pre- and post-sales support and ease of use. Pivot3’s automated policy-based management software enables the performance and security consistency the midmarket desires to run multiple and mixed application workloads on a single HCI offering. The company’s approach to data protection can significantly reduce the storage capacity requirements of an HCI offering, which results in lower costs.

Scale Computing

Leader: Jeff Ready, Co-Founder, CEO

Flagship HCI Offering: HC3

Scale Computing launched its HE500 family of hyper-converged infrastructure appliances this month, looking to take cost-efficient edge offerings to the next level with a starting price of $16,000. The Indianapolis-based company’s vision is rooted in delivering full-featured, affordable offerings with a focus on administrative simplicity. Scale’s HC3 is a KVM-based hypervisor offered with cost-effective premium support—which is only about 13 percent of the capital purchase price—and typically represents the lowest cost of the more mature HCI vendors. Scale Computing’s hybrid cloud integration connects on-premises and cloud infrastructure and data via its HC3 Cloud Unity offering. In a recent interview with CRN, CEO Jeff Ready said he expects Scale Computing’s total revenue to jump triple digits in 2019.

Key differentiators for midsize businesses: Scale Computing prioritizes midsize enterprises with the majority of its deployments and customers being in the midmarket. The HC3 product family has a highly transparent, all-inclusive pricing structure that is attractive to midsize enterprises. Scale Computing offers fully functional single-node solutions starting at $8,000.