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Cisco adds cloud management to hyper-converged integrated systems

Cisco has added cloud-based management to its HyperFlex hyper-converged integrated systems. The vendor also released a HyperFlex model with a much larger network interconnect.

Cisco has added cloud-based management software to its HyperFlex hyper-converged integrated systems. Also, the vendor introduced the option of a 40 GbE interconnect to the HyperFlex networking fabric.

Cisco unveiled the latest HyperFlex features this week. The company started rolling out the new capabilities last month and plans to have all new capabilities available by the end of March.

Hyper-converged integrated systems (HCIS) tightly couple compute, network and storage hardware, while also incorporating virtualization and management platforms. HCIS products, in general, include software for management and provisioning. Other HCIS providers include Nutanix, Scale Computing and SimpliVity, which Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired last month.

Cisco launched HyperFlex a year ago with Cisco Fabric Interconnects for 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking. The latest version includes the option for 40 GbE and an all-flash storage array to boost performance even higher.

The limited scalability of many hyper-converged systems had restricted their use to mostly branch offices and for running small business applications, said Terri McClure, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass. Cisco's 40 GbE system, in combination with the company's networking technology, is likely to provide the power for running much larger applications.

"Cisco's advantage is they can leverage a lot of their traffic management experience from the networking world," McClure said.

HyperFlex consists of Cisco's networking fabric, its Unified Computing System (UCS) server and the Cisco Data Platform, which is based on startup Springpath's HALO file system.

Cloud-based HyperFlex Connect

With the latest release, Cisco introduced the cloud-based HyperFlex Connect management software. The application makes it possible to manage multiple HyperFlex hyper-converged integrated systems from a single online management interface.

Cisco has integrated HyperFlex with the company's CloudCenter software for managing and orchestrating workloads between HyperFlex and public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

CloudCenter is based on products from CliQr Technologies, which Cisco acquired last March for $260 million.

Cisco claims to have 1,100 HyperFlex customers. Two-thirds are UCS users, and the rest are new customers. The latter are mostly small enterprises attracted to the easier management of an all-in-one system versus a traditional three-tier server, storage and networking infrastructure, said Todd Brannon, Cisco's director of marketing.

"This is really simple to stand up and operate," Brannon said of HyperFlex.

Simplicity is a driving force behind the growing use of hyper-converged integrated systems within enterprises. By 2020, 20% of mission-critical applications running on three-tier systems today will be on HCIS products, according to Gartner.

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