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Disaggregated HCI Becomes a Thing

Dean Steadman

One of the challenges of putting out an innovative product like NetApp® HCI is that it differs from existing market definitions. We’ve had plenty of discussions over the last few years about “what is HCI?” and “where do converged and hyperconverged infrastructures begin and end?” These conversations were interesting, but they didn’t help customers solve their challenges.

To that end, IDC has announced a new “disaggregated” subcategory of the HCI market in its most recent Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker.  IDC is expanding the definition of HCI to include a disaggregated category with products that allow customers to scale in a non-linear fashion, unlike traditional systems that require nodes running a hypervisor. We’re excited that this new perspective on the market will assist customers in evaluating HCI systems to address their business challenges.

A bit of history on our approach to simplifying infrastructure for our customers

Our team approached HCI by taking a long look at how the industry was meeting the needs of customers wanting to simplify their infrastructure. The HCI pioneers blazed trails along these lines by tightly coupling compute and storage with the hypervisor. These solutions provide good value while serving many customer requirements, but they sacrifice independent scale and enterprise-class storage functionality. Our team focused on these areas as an underserved gap in the market that aligned with NetApp’s area of expertise.

NetApp® HCI is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that’s architected with independent compute, storage, and networking. This architecture allows our customers to scale based on their disaggregated end-user business demands rather than architectural limitations. Need more compute horsepower to support a growing Splunk implementation? Or how about vGPU functionality to support data analytics? No worries; just scale in new compute nodes with new capabilities without adding costly storage capacity. Storage is added just as easily without increasing your hypervisor footprint.

With NetApp Element® software, NetApp HCI also delivers enterprise storage functionality to power your private cloud – making it easy to manage data at scale, enabling scale-out growth, predictable performance, and end-to-end automation. Always enabled, global deduplication and compression, paired with application-specific quality of service, means that customers can efficiently run mission-critical applications alongside consolidated virtual machines. Our disaggregated architecture prevents NetApp HCI from becoming a silo in our customer’s data centers.

Where do we go from here?

To the cloud, of course.

Our team started the conversation around hybrid cloud infrastructure last year, and we continue to deliver on that part of our vision with our most the recent announcement of NetApp Kubernetes Service on NetApp HCI. Successful DevOps teams require disaggregated architectures and the flexibility to grow in unpredictable directions.

IDC’s updated HCI taxonomy, in addition to adding disaggregated HCI, also leaves room for other future subcategories for containers and microservices. As IDC states, “this is a niche market with big potential.” NetApp agrees.  We see that in conversations with our customers, and we’re taking our first steps in that direction with Cloud Volumes on NetApp HCI. We’re excited about this new perspective on the HCI market and we’ve accepted the challenge to continue to innovate and improve simplified, multicloud experiences for our customers.

As a product manager, I live for customer feedback. I’d love to hear your thoughts on disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure and how your teams are evolving to take advantage of microservices.

Dean Steadman

Dean Steadman is a product manager with more than twenty-years of IT experience. He focuses on designing, deploying, protecting, supporting, and breaking hybrid-cloud environments. He has accumulated hands-on knowledge at companies of all sizes; from cool internet start-ups to Fortune 500s. He enjoys gaming, hiking, and successful system upgrades.

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