Converged and hyperconverged infrastructure, those tightly integrated systems that bring together compute and storage into pre-tested and pre-configured stacks, continues to be in high demand from enterprises that are looking to rework their datacenters to become private clouds that can more easily and, in the long run, more cheaply host fast-emerging technologies like analytics, mobile applications, Internet of Things telemetry, virtual and augmented reality, and various software-defined infrastructure. These CI and HCI platforms are designed to bring greater flexibility and scalability, ease deployment and management, and reduce costs in areas such as acquisition and power consumption.
IDC analysts have been tracking the growth of the converged infrastructure market, saying in June that revenues jumped 4.6 percent to $2.67 billion in the first quarter, with 1.48 exabytes of new storage capacity, up 7.1 percent from the year before. IDC uses converged infrastructure as an umbrella term that includes integrated infrastructure, certified reference systems, integrated platforms and hyperconverged systems, with some differences between them. For example, hyperconverged infrastructures consolidate server and storage functionality into a single virtualized solution. The hyperconverged space is the fastest-growing part of the larger converged infrastructure market, with sales in the first quarter jumped more than 67 percent year-over-year.
Almost every major infrastructure OEM offers converged and hyperconverged systems, from Dell EMC’s VxRail, XC Series and VxRack Flex and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s CloudSystem and SimpliVity to Oracle and its engineered systems, Lenovo and Converged HX, and Cisco Systems’ FlexPod, VxBlock, and HyperFlex HX systems. Into this competitive mix comes a new joint offering from Fujitsu and NetApp that will leverage compute and storage technologies from each as well as networking from Extreme Networks.
The two companies this week introduced NFlex converged infrastructure, a solution that includes Fujitsu’s Primergy CX400 M4 servers and ServerView Infrastructure Manager and NetApp’s all-flash FAS A-Series or hybrid flash FAS arrays and OnTap data management software. The NFlex system, which also can interoperate with a company’s existing datacenter environment, is aimed at both enterprises and midmarket companies, which will be able to configure the solution to suit their needs by adjusting the number of server nodes, memory and storage capacity and the type of storage. It will employ switches from Extreme Networks and will be able to run VMware vSphere.
The Primergy CX400 M4 is a 2U modular offering that can hold up to four half-wide dual-socket server nodes – 1U CX3500, CX2550 CX2560 or CX2570 systems – for flexible scalability and powered by Intel’s “Skylake” Xeon SP chips that offer up to 28 cores and enhanced by Intel’s UltraPath Interconnect, which speeds up data movement between the CPUs in a system. The system holds up to 2 TB of DDR4 memory and has room for two dozen 2.5-inch storage drives. Fujitsu’s ServerView Infrastructure Manager, which integrates with VMware’s vCenter management offering, is designed to automate device configuration as well as operating system installation and firmware updates, and to provide visibility into both physical systems and virtual machines.
NetApp’s OnTap data management platform offers a host of capabilities, from inline deduplication and compression to reduce the storage footprint in the infrastructure, advanced drive partitioning to expand capacity in flash and disk media, data protection in hybrid cloud environments and automation based on RESTful APIs.
Neither company are strangers to the converged infrastructure space. Fujitsu several years ago began rolling out converged system optimized for such applications as server virtualization, virtual desktops and private clouds, targeting such environments as SAP and Microsoft. Those systems included both Primergy and PrimeQuest servers as well as Fujitsu’s own Eternus storage platform or storage technologies from third parties, including NetApp. For its part, NetApp has partnered with other server vendors in converged infrastructures, such as Cisco’s FlexPod portfolio, which also includes Cisco’s Unified Compute System (UCS) servers and networking products.
The NFlex systems can be bought from and supported by either Fujitsu or NetApp, the systems initially will be released in Europe, the Middle East and Africa early next year, with worldwide available possibly coming afterward.