Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is targeting mid-size firms and branch offices with a hyperconverged system that focuses on ease of use, offering customers the ability to get up and running with applications and services delivered from virtual machines in as short a time as possible.
Available from the end of March, the HC 380 combines compute, software-defined storage and support for virtualisation into a single appliance-like device. This ships with a new management layer that automates many processes and lets an administrator oversee the system remotely from a PC or a mobile device.
As its name suggests, the HC 380 is built on HPE's widely deployed ProLiant DL380 2U rack-mount server hardware. This is combined with a software stack that includes VMware's vSphere and vRealize Operations Manager for operating virtual machines, plus HPE's own StoreVirtual software defined storage layer and the management tools.
Each HC 380 is a two-socket system based on Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors, 128GB up to 1536GB memory, and a choice of hard drive or solid state drive (SSD) storage up to a maximum of 25.2TB per node.
Customers need a minimum of two nodes - for redundancy - while the system can scale to a maximum of 16 nodes depending on customer requirements, according to HPE.
However, the focus for this product is on ease of use, as many mid-size firms may not have a full IT department or may lack the expertise to deploy and configure infrastructure optimised for running virtualised workloads.
"We've taken a very long hard look at what is required in that market, and combined some of the core hardware with a completely new user interface and management approach that we think provides us with a very different way of enabling our customers in that mid-range and remote office space," said HPE's chief technologist in EMEA David Chalmers.
The management platform is based on HPE's OneView software, but with a much revamped user interface, including remote mobile access for administrators using Android or Apple iOS devices.
"We focused on making it genuinely easy, so that it can be run by someone who is technically competent but not necessarily a 20-year expert in virtual machine architecture. It enables someone like that to get the entire system rolling in 15 minutes or less and then be deploying and using virtual machines," Chalmers claimed, turning it into what he dubs "a vending machine for VMs".
Hyperconverged systems are seen as an ideal platform for running virtualised workloads, precisely because they have locally attached storage. For every node added, the total amount of storage increases as well as the compute capacity, and because the storage is distributed among the nodes, it eliminates the need for discrete storage arrays that can prove a bottleneck to scaling up.
HPE is not the only firm offering hyperconverged systems. Last month alone, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) unveiled a scale-out system aimed at big data analytics, while VCE announced its VxRail system based on VMware's EVO RAIL platform.
While the HC 380 is also built on VMware software, it is not based on EVO RAIL, as it uses HPE's own StoreVirtual software defined storage in place of VMware VSAN, for example, plus the new HPE OneView management layer.
However, while the HC 380 may make it easier for mid-size firms to get up and running with virtual infrastructure, its appeal may hinge on the price, which the firm has yet to disclose. VCE's VxRail starts at $60,000 (£42,380) per node, for example. Customers also get three-year's HPE Hyper Converged 380 solution support.
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