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HPE hyper-converged strategy fleshed out with new appliance

The HPE Hyper Converged 380 platform is intended for midsize enterprises and remote branch offices, and takes aim at market leader Nutanix.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise today unveiled a hyper-converged appliance for VMware shops that combines ProLiant DL 380 server hardware and HPE StoreVirtual storage software.

The HPE Hyper Converged 380's starter configuration is a 4U two-node appliance that scales to a 16-node cluster, with the addition of up to 14 2U expansion nodes. After the original two-node appliance, customers can add single nodes to the cluster.

The HPE Hyper Converged 380 appliances include Intel Xeon E5 processors, 125 GB to 1.536 TB of memory, embedded 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 3.5 TB to 25.2 TB of usable storage. Each node can support up to three eight-drive storage blocks, configured either as rotating disk or hot-pluggable hybrid flash.

The new system is intended for midsize VMware enterprises and those with remote branch office storage. Projected HPE Hyper Converged 380 use cases include virtualization, private cloud storage and virtual desktop infrastructure, which is offered as reference architecture.

"We want it to be affordable. We created this system, so you can buy two nodes at a low entry cost and still have a good set of analytics," said Paul Durzan, vice president of product management at HPE. "We focused on simplicity, so you can upgrade your infrastructure in three clicks, without leaving the management tool."

HPE will announce pricing for the Hyper Converged 380 when it becomes available in April.

This is not the first HPE hyper-converged system. It already sells a ConvergedSystem (CS) 250-HC StoreVirtual family of hyper-converged appliances, which use HPE ProLiant Apollo Gen9 server hardware. HPE also briefly was a VMware EVO: RAIL partner, but dropped out after nine months to focus on selling its internally built hyper-converged appliances.

The HPE Hyper Converged 380 rollout follows CEO Meg Whitman's recent claim that HPE would produce a hyper-converged appliance that takes aim at market leader Nutanix.

The HPE hyper-converged platform has a way to go to overtake Nutanix, but the new appliance expands the vendor's reach in the midmarket, said Colm Keegan, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass.

"The HC 380 fits with their strategy of letting customers build composable infrastructure," Keegan said. "It's a platform that can host existing client-server virtualized workloads and cloud-native applications built with OpenStack or Docker. There is a lot you can layer on top of this system, without having to do a lift and shift or migrate workloads to a larger platform."

Durzan said there would be little overlap between the CS-250 and HPE Hyper Converged 380 platforms. StoreVirtual VSA software handles underlying data management for CS 250-HC and HPE 380 products.

"If you're looking [at storage] for a Windows environment, or need very dense compute for VMware, then the CS 250-HC systems make more sense," he said. "We brought the Hyper Converged 380 to market based on demand from customers that want a hyper-converged experience on ProLiant 380 servers."

Durzan said HPE would add support for Microsoft Hyper-V in future HC 380 iterations, although no timeframe was disclosed. "We understand that a multi-hypervisor environment is very desirable for customers," Durzan said.

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