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IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Hyperconverged Systems

Nutanix leader in front of SimpliVity

Here is an excerpt of the report IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Hyperconverged Systems
2014 Vendor Assessment (21 pages, $15,000) written by analysts Eric Sheppard, Iris Feng, Kevin Permenter and Jed Scaramella.

IDC opinion
Over the past several years, the IT infrastructure market has been on a path of rapid evolution and consolidation. As customer priorities shift from a more singular (and siloed) focus on compute, networking, or storage infrastructure to a broader set of requirements around cloud computing, application modernization, and workload management, vendors have been forced to innovate and expand their product portfolios. One area of such innovation has been in integrating compute and storage services so that they run adjacent to each other on the same physical hardware. Increasingly, the ability for storage, computing, and network software to be decoupled from the underlying infrastructure and run on industry-standard x86 components has cleared the way for a new set of software-defined infrastructure. And as more workloads continue to be run on virtual infrastructure, the comingling of storage and compute on a common set of physical resources is a natural outcome in the evolution of a software-defined infrastructure.

Findings include:
Today, hyperconverged infrastructure solutions natively collapse core storage, computing, andc storage networking functions into a single software solution or appliance. The hyperconverged appliance (or solution) thus comprises of a distributed (and often a shared nothing) software stack, which runs on a single or multiple server nodes that constitute a cluster. Each node in the cluster runs the hyperconverged software stack that includes a distributed file system or object store – a hypervisor stack that bootstraps the hardware and provides abstraction of physical resources such as CPU, memory, and disk and additionally provides cluster management functionality. The nodes in the hyperconverged cluster communicate over a builtin (via an Ethernet or IB) switch or plug into a customer-provided back-end network. While the network is used for internode communications, it is not used to bridge the compute and storage layers together as both services run on the same physical node. Rather, this network is used for creating a homogeneous, highly available, and resilient pool of storage and computing resources that leverage distributed software-based algorithms.
– Similar to the integrated infrastructure systems and platforms market segments, thec hyperconverged infrastructure market segment integrates a collection of technologies that span across the functional areas of storage, computing, networking, hypervisor-based virtualization, containers, and infrastructure management. IDC estimates the market for hyperconverged infrastructure is in a nascent state of development and penetration, and we believe the opportunity for this market to be quite significant. Innovators with hyperconverged infrastructure offerings enjoy the benefit of at once participating in two industry disruptions – software-defined infrastructure and convergence/integration of compute, networking, storage and management.

IDC,Worldwide Hyperconverged Systems,2014(Source: IDC, 2014)

Vendors included in this study are all analysed. Here is he analysis of leader Nutanix.

Founded in 2009 by a team that built scalable systems such as Google File System and Oracle Exadata, Nutanix is based in San Jose, CA, and has more than 800 employees. The company has raised $317 million in funding from top-tier investors, including Fidelity, Wellington Management, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Riverwood Capital, and Khosla Ventures. Like other hyperconverged offerings, Nutanix doesn’t make use of external SAN/NAS storage but rather virtualized internal SSD+HDD storage within its server hardware and its distributed file system technology to decrease cost and latency. With an appliance strategy, Nutanix nodes are preinstalled with core software and with little need for storage specialist IT staff onsite.

Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform utilizes industry-standard x86 server nodes bundled with hypervisor software in a 2U, SAN-less server appliance. The Nutanix appliance portfolio consists of six different platforms that offer different resource configurations (e.g., CPU, HDD, and flash storage capacity) depending on the workload profile and can be mixed and matched within a cluster. Nutanix provides a single pane of management for storage and compute through its user interface called Prism. Deployments can start small with just three nodes and can scale out to thousands of nodes. All workloads running on these systems must be virtualized to make use of the distributed storage infrastructure. The company currently supports vSphere, KVM, and Hyper-V on its clusters. 100% of the company’s products are sold through the channel, with considerable lead generation and technical support provided by Nutanix. Early customer uptake was strongest in government, financial services, and education, but this has since expanded considerably into a broad range of industries. Geographically, Nutanix started with the bulk of its sales within North America, but here too we see expansion as the company moves at a rapid pace to expand its sales force and support centers in AsiaPac, EMEA, and Latin America markets. Today, 30-40% of Nutanix’s sales are from outside of the United States.

Nutanix has been a key player in the emergence of the hyperconverged market and was early to demonstrate demand for the technology. The result has been a leading position in mindshare, as well as market share. The company generated 52% of all global hyperconverged revenue during the first half of 2014 and has clearly been planting the seeds for future growth. Most notably, Nutanix partnered with Dell to provide its software for Dell’s newly announced XC Web-Scale Converged Appliances. This is expected to further increase awareness in the Nutanix technology and accelerate its reach into new markets.

Over the past 18 months, the types of workloads running on Nutanix systems have diversified from targeted or specialized workloads like VDI to tier 1 applications and highly virtualized general business workloads like SAP, Oracle, Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, Splunk, and unified communications (UC) applications.

Nutanix has material market momentum with over 1,000 customers worldwide and many Global 2000 companies. The company is taking advantage of its early success and customer knowledge to build new partnerships with key OEMs like Dell and to expand the capabilities of its solutions. This is expected to ultimately contribute to a continued shift into larger organizations, new geographic markets, and additional mission-critical workloads.

Like many of the hyperconverged platforms, Nutanix requires an underlying hypervisor to virtualize and pool the compute and storage infrastructure. As a result, bare metal server configurations are not supported. This means that Nutanix will always have to function as a hyperconverged platform and may not work well for businesses that require a (bare metal) storage-only configuration. Nutanix’s most pressing challenge will be to defend the company’s market leader position with many new vendors entering the hyperconverged market within a very short period of time.