Gridstore, DCHQ merge, focus on DevOps storage

Gridstore hyper-converged hardware and DCHQ data container software merge into HyperGrid to sell storage nodes or cloud targets for DevOps and persistent container storage.

Hyper-converged vendor Gridstore and container software startup DCHQ have merged into a company called HyperGrid.

Not surprisingly given the vendors' expertise, HyperGrid will sell hyper-converged software for DevOps. The merger that completed today will help fulfill the goal Gridstore CEO Nariman Teymourian laid out in May of providing hyper-convergence-as-a-service.

Teymourian said the merger will allow customers to run hyper-converged storage as a service within containers, delivered either in the public cloud or as leased HyperGrid storage hardware that resides on premises. HyperGrid plans to make it easier for development teams to request, provision and consume primary storage for containerized applications. Teymourian said HyperGrid will also target traditional IT use cases as well as DevOps storage.

DCHQ software is now named HyperForm and integrated with the HyperGrid cloud orchestration and provisioning layer. The Gridstore HyperConverged Appliance hardware assumes the HyperGrid brand. Unlike Gridstore's previous appliances, HyperGrid technology will not be Microsoft Windows-centric. Gridstore only supported the Hyper-V hypervisor, but HyperGrid will support any hypervisor.

Helping hyper-converged tackle DevOps storage

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the move fleshes out Teymourian's plan for offering consumption-based pricing and persistent storage containers.

The primary use case for HyperGrid is to allow customers to create a multi-tenant container environment, without owning the storage infrastructure. That goal is to provide DevOps storage that can help create cloud applications faster.

"All hyper-converged products until now have focused on infrastructure," Teymourian said. "None have focused on solving the business problem of, 'How do I build and deploy cloud-native applications and support them in my data center and in the public cloud? How do I do it faster and with more agility?'

"We're reacting to customers who told us they don't want to buy hardware. They're looking to consume our products with a cost and capability model [comparable] to Amazon Web Services."

HyperGrid hyper-convergence-as-a-service points to clouds, local targets

Gridstore started out selling traditional storage arrays geared for Microsoft shops. It launched the Gridstore HyperConverged Appliance all-flash and hybrid line in 2014 by adding servers to the Microsoft storage nodes.

Software maker Rancher Labs is the only other vendor to market a hyper-converged platform that allows storage services to run on a data container host.

The HyperGrid software-as-a service hyper-converged platform supports bare metal, cloud-native and virtualized applications. Existing Gridstore customers can download the HyperGrid software stack and spin up containers in multiple public clouds or locally in a data center.

HyperForm is intended to help development and operations teams more efficiently design and test an application before promoting it to live production. IT operations can create a data container template designed for the requirements of an application team, and the hyper-converged technology provides DevOps storage. Developers can invoke testing templates that transparently shares the benchmarks with IT and storage admins.

"Containerization is the next wave of how developers and ITOps are developing infrastructure," Teymourian said. "That's where the future is. That's where developers are going. Now we reduce the time it takes for developers. Our box comes up in five minutes."

Multiple HyperForm containers can be created on a single node for multi-tenancy.  HyperForm allows users to run application containers in 14 public clouds and multiple virtualization platforms, including VMware vSphere, OpenStack and CloudStack.

Customers also may opt for a monthly subscription for scalable compute and storage that is delivered on premises. HyperGrid will ship a hardware stack preconfigured with customers' applications.

HyperGrid’s other projected use cases include big data, database consolidation, ROBO storage and virtual desktop infrastructure.

Mike Matchett, a senior analyst at Taneja Group, based in Hopkinton, Mass., said HyperGrid's SaaS business model gives it differentiation in a crowded hyper-convergence market.

"Your license is per utilization," Matchett said. "They ship you the infrastructure, but HyperGrid owns it. You install the appliances in your data center so everything is local and private, but pay for it as if it were a cloud service."

Containers intended for production typically need to be unpacked and formatted as a virtual machine. By acquiring DCHQ, HyperGrid reduces the friction and risk from the process, said Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

"HyperGrid allows you to do that with a couple clicks of a button. They streamline the process of building a bridge between DevOps and the cloud," McClure said.

Multi-tenancy or data containers on multiple clouds

DCHQ provides Docker container plug-ins to automate governance for about 20 lifecycle events during application development. The startup, founded by Amjad Afanah and Intesar Shannan Mohammed, focuses on scalable containers for database and legacy applications. Developers use it to inject code to create persistent storage containers on the fly.

EMC's open source Rex-Ray project integrated DCHQ's plug-in framework to automate backup, replication and snapshots for container-based database services.

Afanah referred to DCHQ technology as "on-the-fly containerization. We're focusing on legacy applications that can run on containers."

Afanah will serve as HyperGrid's vice president of products.

HyperForm comes with templates that allow IT operations to create a data container based on the requirements of an application team. Multiple HyperForm containers can be created on a single node for multi-tenancy. HyperForm  supports 14 public clouds and multiple different virtualization platforms, including vSphere, OpenStack and CloudStack.

HyperGrid plans to release upgraded hyper-converged appliance hardware that support Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise network switching technology. Those boxes will be compatible with existing Gridstore hyper-converged hardware and add support for VMware workloads and Linux nodes. 

HyperGrid users can select pay-as-you-go pricing for consumed IT or DevOps storage, VM or VDI usage, or compute cycles. Teymourian said is building its own units of consumption that combined fixed amounts of compute, containers, memory and storage.

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