Published: March 1st, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CA. – The burgeoning hyper-converged market suddenly got at little crowded today as Cisco Systems introduced its HyperFlex Systems at the Cisco Partner Summit.

As part of the broad announcement called Cisco Multi-Cloud Architecture the new HyperFlex Systems are built on Cisco’s UCS platform to deliver network, compute and storage.

IDC has pegged hyper-converged infrastructure as the fast-growing, fast-changing emerging market, while also suggesting there’d be increased competition in a market with few vendors led by Nutanix.

The HyperFlex is not a completely organic product from Cisco. Company CEO Chuck Robbins told CDN it was uniquely developed with internal technology, an acquisition and with the help of a partner.

Chuck Robbins at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit
Chuck Robbins at the 2016 Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego

The internal innovation came from ASIC next generation switching with analytics, security and the ability to handle millions of IP addresses. The acquisition is Cliqr Technology Inc., a privately held San Jose, Calif.-based application-defined cloud orchestration platform developer that provided the applications across bare metal, virtualized and container environments.

The partner piece comes from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SpringPath who delivered the software-defined networking technology to HyperFlex.

Robbins admitted that Cisco did look at all of its options including partnering with other hyper-converged vendors but decided on this route after testing it with customers and channel partners.

“We felt this was next generational thinking. We put it into 10 customers to test and then the partners who really understood this. It was pressure-tested because these people understood all the other offerings. That’s why we did it this way,” he said.

The release of HyperFlex did generate a response from Nutanix channel chief Chris Morgan.

“We’re not surprised to see Cisco take on Nutanix, who currently dominates the hyper-converged market and is enabling customers to build enterprise clouds. What is surprising, however, is that Cisco would choose to hedge their bets in such a strategic market by reselling an untested product from an unproven start-up,” Morgan said.

The vice president of channels and distribution at Nutanix did not stop there. He added, “This serves as a reminder of Cisco’s history of false starts when entering new markets, and should give both partners and customers pause before choosing to break from Nutanix, who is inarguably the market and technological leader in hyper-convergence.”

Robbins countered the Nutanix response by saying Cisco only has a track record of being successful when entering new markets. “With the UCS business I remember HP saying Cisco would be out of the server business and instead we proved to be successful entering that new market,” he said.

Rob Soderbery, senior vice president, enterprise products and solutions, for Cisco said the first generation of hyper-converged solutions did a good job but they forgot things such as how to differentiate between the hardware. The HyperFlex solution addresses that and many others.

HyperFlex features include plug-n-play setup with adaptive and independent scaling of compute, network and storage and data management services such as rapid clones and non-intrusive snapshots.

It also comes with real-time telemetry, intelligent buffers for lossless traffic, 50 per cent higher application completion times, plus visibility of every packet, every flow, every speed, while coming in at 25Gbps at the price of 10Gbps and 100Gbps at the price of 40Gbps.

Soderbery added that hyper-converged does not replace converged infrastructure and only works to compliment it.

Dave Frederickson, VP of sales, marketing and business development, for CDN Top 100 solution provider Long View Systems of Calgary, also pointed to Cisco’s success in developing UCS as an example of the company’s ability to create new products for the channel.

“Cisco’s UCS was an incredible bet that worked out. We are equally excited about how they are broadening the data centre footprint with hyper-converged. I think it will link back to the hybrid IT model that our clients are adopting quickly these days,” Frederickson said.