The 10 Coolest Hyper-Converged Products Of 2016 (So Far)

Hot On Hyper-Converged

Instead of being boiled down to a handful of powerful vendors, the hyper-convergence market has bucked predictions and added more hardware and software vendors as it continues to gain steam.

Hyper-convergence sales have been growing at a double-digit clip, and legacy vendors have this year been falling all over each other trying to partner with the darlings of the market, including Nutanix and SimpliVity.

Vendors also have been trying to push hyper-convergence into new markets, moving it from web-scale and large enterprise companies and into small and midsize businesses. Click through to see 10 of the coolest hyper-convergence products of the year so far.

For more on the "coolest" of 2016, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review."

Lenovo Converged HX Series

Using Nutanix software, Lenovo’s Converged HX Series aims to bring compute, storage and virtualization resources into a single enterprise appliance. The series was designed to rapidly scale to meet the needs of businesses from small and midsize to enterprise IT departments. Lenovo introduced three models in the HX Series in January. The HX7500 targets high-performance workloads such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and databases such as Microsoft SQL Server with higher-end processors, four SSDs and 20 2.5-inch HDDs. The HX5500 targets storage-heavy workloads such as file servers, Splunk and data center backups with up to 36 TB of capacity. The HX3500 targets compute-heavy environments with a mix of two SSDs and six 2.5-inch HDDs.

Cisco HyperFlex

Cisco Systems introduced its first hyper-converged infrastructure solution, HyperFlex, which combines Cisco UCS servers, Cisco networking and software-defined storage technology from SpringPath. HyperFlex comes in a pre-integrated cluster that scales resources independently, and Cisco says it can be up and running, including the networking, in less than an hour. The Cisco HX Data Platform Controller combines the entire cluster’s SSDs and spinning disks into a single, distributed, multitier, object-based data store featuring real-time, always-on deduplication and compression to help cut storage costs by up to 80 percent without affecting performance. It also includes enterprise-class data management features, such as snapshots, thin provisioning and smart cloning.

Dell’s XC Upgrade

I n April, Dell updated its XC Series hyper-converged appliance with Intel's new Broadwell Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors, which are now also available with Dell PowerEdge servers to boost performance. The XC Series, first introduced in late 2014, is also now certified to be used in SAP's NetWeaver solutions. Dell's XC Series is based on the Nutanix Acropolis software stack and is available as 1U or 2U appliances with up to four dual-processor nodes, choice of Intel processors, and flexible memory and storage configuration including SSDs and hard drive. The XC Series also includes all-flash, GPU, storage-only, and small-form-factor nodes to support a wide range of use cases and workloads.

EMC VxRail

EMC made a splash in February with the launch of VxRail, an integrated hyper-converged infrastructure solution specifically for VMware environments. VxRail appliances bring together EMC's data services and systems management capabilities with VMware’s hyper-converged software -- including VMware vSphere, vCenter Server and VMware Virtual SAN -- in a single product family with one point of support. The VxRail appliances are available in hybrid storage or all-flash versions, and come loaded with integrated EMC mission-critical data services including replication, backup and cloud tiering at no additional charge. The company also is touting the ease of integration between VxRail and other EMC solutions, including EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines, Virtual SAN active-active stretch clusters and vSphere Data Protection.

Lenovo, Nutanix Xpress

In May, Lenovo threw another punch with its HX Series appliances, this time aiming for the small- and midsize-business market. The expansion is based on Lenovo's HX2000 Series of hyper-converged appliances developed in conjunction with Nutanix, and they run Nutanix's new Xpress software. The solution teams Nutanix Xpress with Lenovo servers, networking and storage in a 2U form factor starting with a two-node offering. The HX2000 line backs up to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds, or on-premise.

Nutanix Acropolis

Signaling that it is ready to do battle with VMware on the hypervisor front, Nutanix in February updated its Acropolis scale-out data fabric for storage, compute and virtualization with more than 25 enhancements to increase system performance by up to four times compared with earlier versions. The software powers up to 30,000 Microsoft Exchange mailboxes in 8U of rack space. When used with the NX-9060-G4 all-flash appliance, which can be configured with up to six 1.6-TB SSDs and up to 512 GB of memory across four nodes, Nutanix Acropolis can provide more than 1 million storage IOPS in 4U of data center space, the company said.

Oracle SuperCluster M7

Oracle’s SuperCluster M7 engineered system combines compute, networking and storage hardware with virtualization, operating system and management software in a complete, high-performance cloud infrastructure. The system incorporates advanced processor-level security features and works in a range of high-performance workload environments, from traditional ERP, CRM and data warehousing to e-commerce, mobile applications and real-time analytics. The SuperCluster M7, based on Oracle's Sparc M7 processor, includes the Solaris operating system, Oracle VM Server for Sparc and the SuperCluster Management Toolset.

ZeroStack Cloud Platform

ZeroStack in March introduced the ZeroStack Cloud Platform, targeting the midmarket and large enterprises with what the company calls the industry’s first zero-touch private cloud solution. The solution has two elements: The ZeroStack Cloud Building Block hyper-converged infrastructure system includes compute, clustered storage, software-defined networking and distributed management software in a 2U, four-node enclosure. They are connected through OpenStack APIs, and include a symmetric self-healing, scale-out architecture. The ZeroStack Cloud Portal provides a user and administrator web interface that offers real-time monitoring and predictive analytics, a self-service environment, and a built-in app store with application templates and pre-defined images to simplify deployment.

Atlantis HyperScale CX-4

The Atlantis HyperScale CX-4 appliance from Atlantis Computing is a two-node hyper-converged system integrated with compute, all-flash storage, networking and virtualization for remote and branch offices and small data centers. In January, Atlantis added the Dell FX2 server to its roster of platforms for its CX-4 system. Atlantis' all-flash hyper-converged buyers can now choose to purchase Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lenovo or Cisco products as well as an Atlantis-branded server from Super Micro -- all sold 100 percent through the channel.

HPE/ProLiant Solutions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise in March launched its latest entry into the hyper-converged infrastructure market with the aim of offering an enterprise-grade solution. The new offering combines HPE's enterprise-class DL380 servers and a software stack that includes HPE's StoreVirtual VSA software-defined storage application and the HPE OneView converged management and automation application. HPE says the DL380 series combines enterprise-class features and scalability with an easy-to-use software stack that can spin up virtual machines in five clicks.