Interview How does Hewlett Packard Enterprise view hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) now that it has bought and is digesting SimpliVity?
In particular, how do its hyperconverged products, with aggregated components, fit in with its Synergy composable infrastructure ideas? Synergy uses disaggregated components which are composed into platforms at run time.
We talked to Paul Miller, VP of marketing in its software-defined and cloud group, to explore HPE's thinking.
Does HPE support the view that HCI could become the on-premises IT mainstream architecture?
Software-defined infrastructure is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for on-premises architectures. HCI fits into the software-defined infrastructure category, which spans from HCI to composable infrastructure.
Customers are looking for simplicity, agility, elasticity, security and predictability within their environment. Each customer will select their own path to meet their unique business requirements. For some customers, this will be 100 per cent HCI. For others, they will use a mix of HCI and composable.
Does HPE think HCI must embrace hybrid IT and have a public cloud integration play?
Yes, hybrid IT is a given today. Customers are running multiple clouds that are offering a range of services across public and on-premises infrastructure. Many HCI solutions only extend an HCI silo to a single public cloud. This is not hybrid IT.
Project New Stack from HPE offers an open cloud approach to any cloud and any services in the cloud, married with on-premises HCI and composable infrastructure, thus unifying customers' hybrid experience.
Does HPE agree that HCI is a virtual SAN game but containers are coming?
We see customers wanting to run both virtual machines and containers within their HCI environments. With great relationships with containerisation leaders like Docker, Kubernetes and Meso, we are working to optimise containers on HCI and composable.
How does HCI relate to composable infrastructure?
HCI and composable are part of the software-defined infrastructure category. HCI provides simplicity, agility, elasticity, security and predictability for virtualized environments and composable provides the same for bare metal, virtual and containers. Note, composable runs both software-defined storage and traditional SAN storage.
Should HCI be an all-commodity hardware game with no added ASIC/FPGA components?
Customers want performance and simplicity, they do not ask whether the server their VM is running on in Azure has an FPGA in it. At the end of the day, it is about delivering a total solution to the customer at a compelling price point.
Microsoft deploys FPGAs in Azure servers, Intel paid $16.7bn for Altera, and the GPU market has exploded in the last several years. HPE SimpliVity leverages an FPGA to provide unique capabilities like predictable performance that we guarantee with always-on deduplication and compression. This allows HPE to guarantee performance of backup and recovery. No other HCI solution guarantees performance – period.
How will NVMe drives, NVMe over fabrics and storage-class memory, such as Optane (3D XPoint), affect HCI systems?
These technologies will absolutely affect the HCI market. HCI systems need to evolve as the technology market changes. HPE SimpliVity was designed to be media agnostic from day 0 and has moved to a 100 per cent flash portfolio because that offers the best value to the customer today. As storage-class memory, high-speed interconnects and high-speed media continue to become more mainstream, HPE will continue our technology leadership in the HCI market.
In a way, we can view Synergy as dynamically composing hyperconverged infrastructure at run time and then returning the server, storage and networking hardware components to the resource pool when no longer needed.
But HCI is partly a response to the difficulties customers have in buying, installing, integrating, operating and managing server, storage, networking and system software components of multifarious separate application stacks. Buy one SKU and scale it out is the simplistic response to this.
If customers can get dynamically composable infrastructure stacks using generic commodity components then, in theory, the need for HCIA could go away. HPE has high hopes for Synergy accomplishing this. ®