Converged Architectures: it’s the use case, stupid!

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Converged infrastructure

There are two types of converged infrastructure: the one click sale all components in one SKU of which we know VCE vBLOCK, NetApp FlexPod, EMC vSPEX, Hitachi UCP, Dell vStart and HP VirtualSystem or most recently HP Sharks (working title). Technology wise there is hardly any added value here. Some have the system pre-packaged, others pre-installed but over all the added value is just in the processes.

The second type of converged infrastructure is the hyperconverged infrastructure where all server and compute components are part of a single building block. In this area we think of Scale Computing, Nutanix and Simplivity. More recently we also see a lot of people mentioning VMware VSAN to play in this technology area as you bring storage to compute within building blocks. Here is a very good write up by Wikibon if you are interested in all 4 technologies (and Duncan’s answer to some technicalities of VSAN). So it’s the exact same story, right? 

It’s the Business Case, stupid!

For everyone that is saying now VSAN is a new competitor for Nutanix or Simplivity; you are missing the whole point! The hyperconverged players of today sell to the customer that wants to BUY building blocks. Scale-Computing, Nutanix and Simplivity sell to those customers that like the old-school convergence model (all components in a SKU) where all the hardware is tested in a verified configuration but with the simplicity of a single building block (and throw some management sauce on top).
VSAN sells today to the customers that want to BUILD building blocks. It’s the build-your-own-datacenter type of customer. You want to know who the true competitors are that VMware VSAN goes up against? The true Software Defined Storage vendors like Nexenta for example. The only way VSAN will ever be competition for the hyperconverged solutions is when DELL/HP/Cisco start OEM bundles. And even then they are still only going to be “hardware verified configurations” which make them still build-your-own-datacenters and only solving the “single sku” problem. So in the end, VMware as such is not the competitor when it comes down to the use case.


Disclaimer: I have had briefings with all companies in this post and I have done paid work for Simplivity.
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