On November 24, 2014, SimpliVity announced the general availability of its Cisco-certified solution, SimpliVity OmniStack. Fully integrated with Cisco UCS, this product is based on the C240 M3 model. Since the latter’s launch in August of this year, the hyperconverged infrastructure solution has, according to the press release, “realized tremendous global market demand, with rapid channel partner adoption and pre-orders to help customers drastically transform their data centers.”
But who exactly does this deal benefit? In my piece about the Dell/Nutanix hookup, I was not entirely complimentary about that announcement. I argued that it was a one-sided relationship, that Dell would not really be interested in selling Nutanix goods, and that its portfolio is so wide that the product would get missed in the overall noise.
I could argue that this is the case here, but I will not: the dynamics are very different with this partnership. SimpliVity is a company with a very good product that, like Nutanix, is making traction in the market. The hyperconvergence message resonates with businesses, and it shows: the Boston-based company has mushroomed in size from 100 to 300 employees in less than a year. Now, fast expansion can be an indicator of issues, but SimpliVity has coupled this with very healthy revenue results. It appears that it is not just growing for the sake of it—it actually needs to do so.
Now, let’s take a look at Cisco. Unlike Dell, it does not have anything similar in its portfolio. It does not have a legacy storage product that it needs to protect. Yes, it does have WHIPTAIL, but that is a very different use case. Importantly, SimpliVity’s OmniStack does not go head-to-head against Cisco’s core business of networking. In fact, it can be used as a driver to sell more network ports.
But that is not the real clincher in this for me. I have argued that Cisco is hurting at the moment and that the old frenemies are now hunting as a pack against it. Cisco is in a bit of a predicament. It has effectively exited out of VCE. (It still has a 10% investment, but it no longer has executive input other than via investor pressure.) This should be far more worrying to Cisco. I would argue that VCE and, to a lesser extent, FlexPod drove the vast majority of its UCS sales. It is noticeable that there has been more cozying up to NetApp in the last few months. I would not be surprised to hear an announcement regarding that soon, but I digress.
Cisco needs to find new markets for its server products. It is now second by numbers in the server marketspace, and to keep that prominence, it needs to continually expand its presence. Further, there is no guarantee that VCE will continue using UCS as its core compute. What is to stop it from using Moonshot, for example, especially as EMC and HP have been playing “happy families” recently?
Hyperconvergence is the current hot topic. I think that both SimpliVity and Cisco will do well out of this one, but for obviously differing reasons.