Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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Nascent HCI Market Bestrides ‘Multi-Modal’ IT 

Software-defined storage and virtualized servers have become key building blocks of hyperconverged IT infrastructure running on commodity equipment.

VMware (NYSE: VMW) and its majority shareholder, Dell Technologies (NYSE: DELL), are among the leaders in the emerging HCI sector, with other infrastructure and networking vendors challenging for a piece of an $11 billion market that is expected to grow to more than $60 billion by 2023.

“As edge computing expands, the HCI market will become more diverse in [its] capabilities as support for the cloud-native and AI/ML workloads expand,” said Roy Illsley, chief IT and enterprise analyst at London-based Omdia, which release an HCI market forecast this week.

The market analyst confirms the enterprise trend toward hybrid HCI architectures, rather than simply on-premise deployments versus cloud. The emerging “multi-modal” approach is based on considerations ranging from scale, latency and data sovereignty.

“HCI sits at the crossroads of these architectures and enables the choice of approach to be selected based on need, with the added flexibility to support a build or buy approach based on the organization’s preferences,” Omdia said. Hence, the IT construct is situated to handle deployments ranging from on-premises private clouds and “core” public cloud to multiple clouds and edge computing.

Moreover, the market tracker reported “no significant differences” between hardware- and software-defined HCI approaches beyond customer preference. That finding is welcome news for the handful of IT infrastructure vendors offering a smorgasbord of components as enterprise customers look for new approaches to handle data-driven workloads while preserving legacy platforms.

For now, Omdia concludes, current HCI leaders have done little to differentiate themselves. Also ranked among the market leaders is Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), with cloud data services vendor NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) not far behind.

In an attempt to keep pace, NetApp last month acquired Spot, an IT resource management and cost optimization specialist. NetApp said the deal would strengthen its position in the market for “application-driven” infrastructure.

Omdia further ranked Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) as a leading HCI challenger along with server maker Lenovo (OTCMKTS: LNVGY), Fujitsu (OTCMKTS: FJTSY) and Hitachi Vantara.

Those challengers also have been busy upgrading their HCI portfolios as the hyperconverged market expands. For example, Fujitsu has combined its Primeflex integrated system with Microsoft Azure Stack and VMware vSAN. In late June, Hitachi Vantara named former Cognizant executive Gajen Kandiah as its new CEO.

Meanwhile, HPE said last month it would combine it Proliant servers with startup Nebulon’s cloud-defined storage framework as a means of automating storage requirements.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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