Dell and Nutanix's play in the converged and hyper-converged market

Hyper-converged infrastructure calls for virtualization and is suitable for workloads like VDI and big data.

Until now big data, cloud, Internet of things (IoT) and analytics have hogged the limelight. But moving forward, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure is another area that will see a lot of action

Hyper-convergence is one of the fastest growing methods for deploying IT in the datacenter, as IT organizations look for ways to adjust to their new role in business and fulfil new demands that are placed on them. 

The hyper-converged infrastructure market is a crowded place today with at least a dozen vendors offering various solutions. Notable among these players is Dell which, entered into a partnership with Nutanix  in mid-2014 to provide a new series of converged infrastructure appliances. We spoke to Dell to understand the kind of workloads that call for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and the deployment scenario. 

"We have been in partnership (with Nutanix) for the past two years, and have developed a full suite of products to take care of applications that a customer can have. For example  we have different models in hyper-converged compliance—high performance Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), high performance file services and virtualization,” says Neeraj Matiyani, Director, Storage Solutions, Dell India. 

Matiyani says that with this partnership, their largest win has been with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which deployed 55,000 virtual desktops.

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) has seen wide adoption in many industry verticals. Talking of the impact on the Indian market, Matiyani says that many VDI projects are being implemented in the IT/ITES sector on Dell XC (extreme convergence), and also in educational institutions such as IIT Kanpur. Also, HCI is deployed by many customers of Dell in the insurance and manufacturing space. 

What’s really driving HCI in the enterprise?  Sunil Mahale, VP-India Business, Nutanix says, “It solves datacenter complexity, as there is no need to have Storage Area Network (SAN), Network Attached Storage (NAS) or fiber channel networking. It reduces TCO by more than 60 percent, reduces rack space, and gives power space cooling and back up. It could be used for virtualization, VDI, remote offices, branches office consolidation and running various enterprise applications from the likes of Microsoft.”

He also points out that with a hyper-converged platform the number of vendors along with maintenance and administrative costs will be reduced. Within the converged infrastructure market, Gartner estimates that HCI subsegment alone is expected to become a $5 billion market by 2019. 

At present, the demand for HCI in India is concentrated in Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad. 

So, which are the workloads that are best suited to move to converged and hyper-converged Infrastructure. Matiyani says, “One needs to be virtualized before investing in hyper-converged infrastructure and the workloads suitable would be—VDI, server virtualization, big data and communication applications. If someone has a huge database, where there is a need to scale up, then converged will be better. For smaller databases, it makes sense to go for hyper-converged.”

Mahale explains: “Enterprise workloads like SQL server, sharepoint, messaging and disaster recovery can be automated through hyper-convergence.”  

Today, many new and potential customers are looking at adopting new age solutions such as converged and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions so that it enables them to be ready for the future from an infrastructure point of view. Matiyani and Mahale feel that they are seeing increased traction from IT/ITES companies and commercial mid-market. Also, Mahale feels that they are seeing a lot of demand from financial services, retail and manufacturing.

Matiyani says that their biggest success has been in the IT/ITES space because of huge amounts of VDI deployment. 

Dell has taken various initiatives to strengthen its play in the hyper converged market. It has opened a demo center to show customers its technology. At the same time, the company is training its staff and partners in the HCI domain, particularly, on how they should go about positioning their technology and increase customer awareness. Also, Dell has made significant investment in demo units, so that customers can test it in their premise and see if it works for them.