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HPE has released a Gen 2 hyperconverged... er, thingy. Here's the lowdown

If at first you don’t succeed then try and try again

HPE is nothing if not persistent. Having launched a hyperconverged appliance that was half the price of Nutanix last August it’s now going to launch a better one – one that’s 20 per cent lower than Nutanix's cost. Sounds odd, and that’s not the only odd aspect.

The new HCIA was described in HPE’s Q1 fiscal year 2016 earnings call by CEO Meg Whitman: “Our new solution will offer customers installation in minutes, a consumer-inspired simple mobile array user experience, and automated IT operations, all at 20 per cent lower cost than Nutanix.”

Whitman continued: “We believe this new system will allow us to quickly become a top player in the $5bn high-growth hyperconverged market.”

This gen 2 HCIA uses a ProLiant virtualization server, thought to be its Gen 9 ProLiant DL380 .

Here are the specific things we know about it:

  • To be announced in March but no ship date
  • Developed in-house with version 1.0 taking four months (Implies October 2015 start)
  • Based on ProLiant virtualization server - DL380
  • Installation in minutes
  • Consumer-inspired simple user experience
  • Automated IT operations
  • A 20 per cent lower cost than Nutanix
  • Market-changing

Now let's match that up with the existing ConvergedSystem 250-HC StoreVirtual (CS 250 HC) launched in August last year and derive a few implications:

  1. The 20 per cent lower cost than Nutanix doesn't sound much at all when compared to HPE’s CS-250-HC that was claimed to be nearly half the price of the Nutanix 3360 G4
  2. The CS 250 HC was also configurable in minutes so nothing new there
  3. The four month development effort means nothing radical can be expected; there's been too little time for that. Probably the new UI is what the in-house development was about
  4. The CS 250 HC uses gen 9 ProLiant Apollo servers whereas the new HCIA box uses DL380s
  5. "Automated IT operations" sounds like HPE's Operations Manager
  6. Market-changing could mean anything, from a new product to a radically different and better new product.

We think we’re looking at a relatively minor and straightforward enhancement to HPE’s HCIA product set, think CS 260 HC, with a new UI and different servers, but still using the StoreVirtual virtual SAN storage software, like the CS 250 HC. The short (four month) development cycle virtually guarantees that nothing radical is going to be announced.

HP's Whitman said: “We very much like this product from a side-by-side comparison and features and functionality to our competitors. Feel really good about it and I think it means that we can be a leader in this quite large and fast-growing part of the market.”

That could be a big ask as her competitors are many:

DataCore says customers can buy a DataCore software/Lenovo hardware HCIA system. So we have 15 competitors to HPE and its HCIAs, including major players such as Cisco, Dell, EMC, Nutanix and SimpliVity.

NetApp has yet to enter the market, and so far shows no signs of doing so.

HPE has quite a hyper-converged mountain to climb if it seriously wants to be a leader – one with a top three place – but it has all the pieces in-house (servers, storage, networking, and software) to build itself an HCIA mountain-climbing machine. Pun not intended. ®

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