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Cisco Readies SDN-Based Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Cisco Systems last week jumped into the market for hyper-converged infrastructure and software-defined store, which is emerging as a popular new way to deploy software-defined compute, storage and networking with shared policy management and automation. The company made the move at the annual Cisco Partner Summit, where it also launched new Nexus switches and said it will acquire CliQr, which provides orchestration tools to manage multiple cloud environments.

By launching its own hyper-converged infrastructure, Cisco is taking on a market now dominated by a number of startups such as GridStore, Maxta, Nutanix, Scale Computing and SimpliVity. Until now, Cisco has used its partnership with SimpliVity to offer that capability and reportedly tried to acquire it as well as Nutanix, according to CRN. Cisco's new offering called HyperFlex Systems runs on the Cisco UCS platform. HyperPlex uses SpringPath Inc.'s hyper-convergence software, which virtualizes servers into a single pool of compute and storage resources. The SpringPath Data Platform that Cisco is using in is HyperFlex Systems eliminates the need for network storage, instead automatically tying to existing management software. It uses what SpringPath calls "adaptive scaling capabilities," allowing organizations to scale their compute, caching or storage resources. SpringPath said its monitoring capabilities are designed to ensure uptime.

In addition to integrating with Cisco's UCS servers, the HyperFlex solution integrates with the company's Nexus switches and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). The latter is Cisco's fabric for providing monitoring, automation and policy management. The first set of products in the new HyperFlex line are called the HX Series and are available in three models, starting with a 1-rack-per-node unit with two processers per node, a 480GB SSD and six 1.2TB HDDs. At the high end are units configurable from two to six racks with four processors per node, a 1.6TB SSD and 23 1.2 HDDs. HyperFlex is designed for both current applications and those based on microservices architectures and containers, according to Satinder Sethi, Cisco's VP for data center solutions engineering and UCS product management.

 "With Cisco HyperFlex, we're delivering the capabilities customers tell us they've been waiting for in a hyper-converged solution," Sethi said in a blog post. "By extending our strategy of software defined, policy driven infrastructure to hyper-convergence, Cisco will accelerate mainstream adoption of this valuable technology and provide customers a future-ready platform for evolving applications."

Cisco also launched several upgraded versions of its Nexus switches. At the high end for cloud-scale requirements, Cisco claims its new Nexus 9000 offers a 25 percent boost in non-blocking performance, real-time network telemetry at 100Gbps and the ability to scale IP addresses up to 10 times and support for more than 1 million containers per rack.

Also last week Cisco said it has agreed to acquire CliQr Technologies Inc. for $260 million in cash. CliQr offers a cloud modeling, deployment and orchestration tool for building out private, public and hybrid clouds. Cisco noted that CliQr already supports ACI and UCS.

Customers today have to manage a massive number of complex and different applications across many clouds," said Rob Salvagno, Cisco's VP of corporate development in a statement. "With CliQr, Cisco will be able to help our customers realize the promise of the cloud and easily manage the lifecycle of their applications on any hybrid cloud environment."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/07/2016 at 2:19 PM


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