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The year's biggest hyper-converged market news

The hyper-convergence market expanded to include bigger storage vendors in 2015, while also moving the market along through the development of new partnerships.

The hyper-converged market was already beginning to crowd, and the news coming out of 2015 showed more than just storage vendors wanted a piece of the hyper-convergence pie.

While the market was once dominated by startups, acquisitions and partnerships are giving players from different sides of IT a chance at the hyper-convergence game. Major storage vendors, such as EMC and Dell, are moving into the space by partnering with VMware for EVO:RAIL appliances, and Dell also has a partnership with Nutanix. Meanwhile, virtual desktop vendor Citrix made moves to acquire storage software that would help them in the hyper-converged market, and server vendor Lenovo partnered with StorMagic to bring a low-end appliance.

Take a look at the biggest moves in the hyper-converged market during 2015.

Nutanix creates proprietary hypervisor

Hyper-converged vendor Nutanix took the opportunity of its user conference in Miami to announce the launch of Acropolis, its newest hyper-converged product that includes a native hypervisor based on Linux KVM. Customers can also use VMware or Hyper-V alongside the native hypervisor and move workloads between them. The move puts pressure on leading hypervisor vendor VMware, because Nutanix does not require licensing for its hypervisor -- a potential cost savings that could be very appealing to users.

VMware launches VSAN 6, but notably still lacks dedupe

At VMworld 2015, VMware rolled out the third version of its VSAN hyper-converged software with some significant upgrades. The second version, VSAN 6, gave customers an all-flash option and expanded the maximum number of nodes in a cluster from 32 to 64. VMware also doubled the number of virtual machines that can be supported. VSAN 6.1 provided some additional features, such as replication and VMware's Site Recovery Manager, but one feature was still noticeably missing: deduplication. VMware assured customers that storage efficiency is the focus of the upcoming release, and deduplication, as well as erasure coding, are in the pipeline.

Lenovo goes deep into hyper-converged through partnerships with StorMagic

Lenovo forged several partnerships to run hyper-converged software on the server platforms it acquired from IBM. Nutanix, SimpliVity, StorMagic and Pivot3 software will all be sold on Lenovo ThinkServer or System x. The Nutanix partnership runs deepest. Lenovo has a dedicated sales force for the Nutanix hyper-converged appliances, and the vendors are planning joint platform development and performance engineering on the appliances.

VDI vendor Citrix moves into the hyper-converged market

In one of the first storage acquisitions of 2015, virtual desktop firm Citrix bought scale-out storage software vendor Sanbolic. Citrix plans to incorporate Sanbolic's Melio software, which virtualizes storage, and applies management and data protection capabilities, in reference architectures that would allow customers to build hyper-converged systems. The integration of Melio software will help virtual desktop infrastructure customers manage virtual applications across storage tiers.

EMC debuts its EVO:RAIL appliance

EMC in February joined several other major storage vendors by announcing its long-awaited version of EVO:RAIL one day after VMware announced VSAN 6. EVO:RAIL is a hyper-converged reference architecture that allows storage vendors to partner with VMware in order to sell storage hardware packaged with VSAN hyper-converged software. EMC claims its appliance -- VSPEX Blue -- is differentiated from other EVO:RAIL offerings due to the ability for customers to download EMC applications, such as RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines, VMware Data Protection Advanced and EMC CloudArray Gateway. Now, the question is which hyper-converged products will survive the Dell-EMC merger.

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