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Chris Purcell

Why the Hyperconverged Gartner Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities reports are important


Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure.jpgAs with every Magic Quadrant research report Gartner, Inc. creates, customers await with keen interest to see where different vendors are placed. The recent 2017 Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged infrastructure and the corresponding Gartner Critical Capabilities Report has been no different. Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is still reported to be the fastest-growing segment at a CAGR of 48%, slated to exceed $10 billion by 2021. But what made this report even more interesting was that this HCI Magic Quadrant was the first of its kind, assessing vendor offerings according to the vendor’s ability to execute and their vision.

In past years, I tracked and compared progress of the different vendors within the Integrated Infrastructure Magic Quadrant. But, as tempting as these comparison appeared to be, this year I refrained because the Magic Quadrant and Critical Capabilities Reports for HCI are constructed quite differently. This new Magic Quadrant focuses on HCI, which is a sub-segment of Gartner’s previous Integrated Systems category. This segmentation allows the HCI Magic Quadrant to be more focused on the software within its environment, as opposed to physical infrastructure highlighted in the previous Integrated Systems Magic Quadrant reports.

The data center is moving to a software-defined state, which makes this Magic Quadrant very important reading if you are considering investing in this infrastructure or just keeping up with new trends. Dialing back three or four years, HCI was viewed with some skepticism and was only being used in non-critical areas. In today’s environment, HCI is creeping into many mission critical areas of the data center, which is clearly illustrated in the Critical Capabilities Report.

And that’s why the Critical Capabilities Report contains more important information than the Magic Quadrant. It is true that the Magic Quadrant gives you the rankings of vendors placed across four different quadrants – Challengers, Niche Players, Visionaries and Leaders. But the Critical Capabilities Report provides valuable details on how these vendors performed across 11 critical capabilities and five use case areas:

  • Consolidated data center infrastructure HCI projects are driven by cost and TCO savings. They consolidate n-tier architectures supporting Mode 1 applications.
  • Business-critical HCI projects improve resiliency and scalability of business-critical applications — e.g., ERP and packaged applications that require vendor certification.
  • Cloud HCI projects are deployments of Mode 2 applications and re-architected Mode 1 applications in private or public cloud environments.
  • ROBO - Non-data-center locations managed remotely by data centers. HCI in ROBO is used to bridge Mode 2 IoT/edge infrastructure with Mode 1 data center infrastructure.
  • VDI benefits from HCI by simplifying the provisioning and hosting of user VMs in dedicated deployments. VDI is accessed over a LAN or WAN, using a remote display protocol.

The results are in and can be found in full in the Critical Capabilities Report here. If you are interested in my summarized opinion, I’ve included some observations below.

What you need to know about Nutanix

Obviously, Gartner is putting significant emphasis on Nutanix because it was first to market with their HCI solution. Nutanix introduced this solution in 2011 and their software is available across Cisco, Dell, HPE, IBM, and Lenovo server platforms. Based on these “execution” metrics, Gartner has positioned Nutanix positively.

What you need to know about Dell EMC/VMware

Gartner is giving Dell EMC credit for its total portfolio, which includes VMware based VxRail and VxRack, ScaleIO systems and its XC offering based on Nutanix. While Dell EMC gets credit for tight integration with VMware, they still have a fragmented approach -- for example, VxRail/Rack for VMware and XC (Nutanix) for other hypervisors. The fragmented, overlapping offerings of Dell/EMC’s portfolio could easily confuse many customers and partners.

What you need to know about HPE SimpliVity

Gartner praised HPE SimpliVity’s data services, and the related ability to avoid separate backup solutions. Gartner also recognizes the reach, support, and reputation of HPE. However, in the MQ, Gartner only considered product functionality from the vendors up through April 2017, which means that they conducted the Magic Quadrant review in the early stages of SimpliVity’s integration with HPE. Since April 2017, HPE has continued to make great progress in areas of “execution” and “vision”, such as:

  • Released HPE SimpliVity 380 Gen10 all-flash powered by Intel® (extra small to large configs with latest Intel and HPE technologies)
  • Released multiple versions of RapidDR for HPE SimpliVity 380, improving performance and disaster recovery automation for virtualized environments
  • Extended the industry leading GreenLake Flex Capacity consumption offering to include hyperconverged solutions

In summary

As interesting as this first Magic Quadrant for HCI is, a word of caution is in order. As I mentioned above, Gartner only considered product functionality from participating vendors up through April 2017 — almost 10 months ago! Because HCI represents the fastest growing segment in the data center, new and innovative solutions are being introduced all the time.

Lastly, the market opportunity in this area is massive. According to Gartner, the integrated systems market will reach $20 billion by 2021. The HCI sub segment is ~$2.8 billion, but growing very fast. By 2019, the hyperconverged market is expected to top $6.3 billion on its way to $10 billion in 2021 growing at a CAGR of 48.0% from 2016 to 2021. So expect a lot of changes in the current marketplace, both from new vendors and new solutions that will be reviewed during the next release of the HCI Magic Quadrant 2018.

Download the complete 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure report here

Download the complete Gartner Critical Capabilities Report here.


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About the Author

Chris Purcell

Composable Infrastructure, Integrated and Multi-Cloud management, Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Cloud