In a strategic move that has been brewing since their partnership announcement in August, Cisco recently decided to discontinue the development of its HyperFlex hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) system. This shift has significant implications for both Cisco and the HCI market, as it positions Nutanix as a primary beneficiary of Cisco’s customer base. In this in-depth analysis, we will explore the reasons behind Cisco’s decision, the implications for its existing HyperFlex customers, and the potential impact on the HCI landscape.
The Decision-Making Process
Cisco’s decision to halt the development of its HyperFlex hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) system was influenced by several factors, driven by the evolving landscape of customer demands and market dynamics. While it may have been unexpected to some, it aligns with the broader trends in the industry.
Hyperconverged infrastructure has witnessed significant adoption in recent years due to its compelling advantages, including simplifying IT operations, reducing operational costs, and enhancing agility. Organizations across various sectors have recognized the potential of HCI in transforming their data center environments.
However, Cisco’s HyperFlex offering faced formidable competition from industry leaders like Nutanix, VMware, and HPE, as attested by reports from industry analysts. These competitors had established themselves as dominant players in the HCI space, offering comprehensive solutions with advanced features.
IDC’s research sheds light on the HCI landscape, emphasizing the core concept of HCI: the integration of key IT components into a unified system. These components encompass the hypervisor (virtualization layer), compute (servers), networking (interconnection between devices), and storage (data storage infrastructure). The convergence of these elements into a single, tightly integrated system has resonated with organizations seeking to streamline their data center operations.
One of the driving forces behind the adoption of HCI is the pressing need for organizations to optimize their data center operations, especially when faced with staffing challenges. In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the ability to swiftly deploy and manage new workloads is of paramount importance. This includes resource-intensive applications such as analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), which demand flexible and agile infrastructure.
Cisco’s HyperFlex deployments predominantly relied on the VMware ESXi hypervisor, a widely used virtualization platform. When Cisco recommended migrating to Nutanix, they facilitated this transition by highlighting the compatibility between the two systems. Nutanix further eased the migration process by offering a free migration tool known as “Move.” This tool enabled the seamless transfer of workloads and data from Cisco’s HyperFlex to Nutanix’s HCI platform, minimizing disruptions and reducing migration complexities.
In addition to the migration tool, Cisco and Nutanix announced a significant development—the availability of Nutanix Cloud Platform on Cisco UCS rackmount M6 generation servers. This enhancement expanded the choices available to customers considering the transition to Nutanix. It meant that organizations could leverage their existing Cisco hardware investments while embracing Nutanix’s HCI solution, providing a flexible and cost-effective path forward.
Cisco’s decision to discontinue HyperFlex development reflects a strategic response to market dynamics and customer needs. The HCI landscape, characterized by the convergence of critical IT components, is driven by the imperative to streamline data center operations and adapt to the demands of modern workloads. The availability of migration tools and compatibility with Cisco UCS hardware further facilitate this transition, positioning Nutanix as an attractive HCI provider for organizations seeking to embrace the advantages of hyperconverged infrastructure.
Implications for HyperFlex Customers
Cisco’s decision to discontinue HyperFlex development leaves existing customers at a crossroads. To assist in this transition, Cisco has recommended migrating to Nutanix’s converged system. This migration path enables organizations to leverage their existing Cisco UCS hardware, either for running Nutanix hyperconverged software or repurposing it as standard Cisco UCS servers. Cisco has also pledged to continue supporting its HyperFlex customers for the next five years.
While this transition may involve some effort and planning, the benefits are substantial. Nutanix offers a robust HCI solution and integrates seamlessly with Cisco UCS hardware. It provides an opportunity for organizations to enhance their data center efficiency, simplify management, and embrace the future of hyperconverged infrastructure.
Nutanix’s Role in the Transition
Nutanix has emerged as a central player in this transition. Their hyperconverged software can now run on the latest Cisco UCS rackmount M6 generation servers with full lifecycle support from Cisco. This not only ensures a smooth migration for existing HyperFlex customers but also positions Nutanix as a key HCI provider in Cisco’s ecosystem.
Furthermore, the collaboration between Cisco and Nutanix extends beyond hardware compatibility. The two companies have introduced a package called “Cisco Compute Hyperconverged with Nutanix.” This offering combines Cisco’s SaaS-managed compute and networking gear with Nutanix’s Cloud Platform, providing customers with a comprehensive solution for their hybrid multicloud operations.
Integration of Nutanix with Cisco’s ACI
In a move aimed at enhancing enterprise-wide cloud application security and simplifying network operations in multicloud environments, Nutanix has integrated its Cloud Platform’s built-in hypervisor, AHV, and Nutanix Flow Network Security with Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).
Cisco’s ACI is a core software-defined networking package, offering policy management and networking capabilities. This integration allows organizations to enforce robust security policies, implement microsegmentation, and streamline network operations, aligning with the industry’s growing focus on secure and efficient multicloud environments.
The Broader HCI Landscape
The industry’s acknowledgment of Nutanix as a leader in the HCI market has been further solidified by Cisco’s decision to endorse Nutanix as a recommended HCI solution provider. This move is a testament to the seismic shift within the market towards embracing robust and integrated hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.
Research from IDC, a respected authority in technology market analysis, underscores the surging popularity of HCI systems, particularly in core data centers. These systems are increasingly regarded as a practical alternative to traditional three-tier IT architectures. Workloads such as business intelligence/analytics, IoT applications, security applications, big data databases, and business applications have found a new home within HCI systems. This consolidation simplifies deployment and management, mitigating staffing challenges, particularly at remote sites.
Beyond core data centers, HCI’s appeal extends to edge environments. IDC’s surveys reveal that HCI is not only relevant but also beneficial in edge settings. The primary use cases include IoT applications, business applications, security deployments, analytics, and infrastructure management applications. Furthermore, the flexibility and simplicity of HCI make it suitable for a wide array of workloads, ranging from development tools to structured database/data management, big data databases, and even AI, machine learning, and deep learning.
Cisco’s decision to discontinue HyperFlex development and recommend Nutanix as an HCI solution marks a significant shift in the hyperconverged infrastructure landscape. This move aligns with the evolving needs of customers seeking streamlined data center operations, agility, and simplified management.
Nutanix, with its seamless integration with Cisco UCS hardware and advanced features like Nutanix Flow Network Security and AHV hypervisor, is well-positioned to support organizations in this transition. The partnership between Cisco and Nutanix promises a robust, comprehensive HCI solution that addresses the complexities of hybrid multicloud environments.
As the HCI market continues to evolve, it’s clear that Nutanix is emerging as a dominant player, offering organizations the tools they need to optimize their data center operations and embrace the future of hyperconverged infrastructure. Cisco’s strategic decision ensures that their customers can transition smoothly and benefit from the best-in-class HCI solution that Nutanix provides.