Key takeaways from the Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure
Hyperconvergence continues to be a growth market for all the major server OEMs and multiple niche players alike. Customers aiming to consolidate operations and maintenance appreciate the integrated and scalable approach to replacing older hardware from multiple vendors. Several vendors offer integrated hardware, software, and management tools to address these needs.
Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) in November 2018, drawing a number of interesting conclusions. "Adopting technology innovation must be business-led, not technology-driven,” the report’s authors write regarding innovation. Per the Gartner 2019 MQ report, “There is no ideal integrated system or ‘endgame’ infrastructure." Corporate IT decision-makers must focus on specific business needs and not be distracted by the shiny new products.
With that said, much is to be gained in choosing a single IT vendor as a strategic partner. Economies of scale can help reduce capital expenditures and long-term sustainment costs. Moving from a distributed architecture with multiple management interfaces to a single interface can help reduce personnel costs as well. And almost all of the vendors identified as market leaders work with products from other vendors in this quadrant.
How the market players line up
Gartner uses a well-defined evaluation methodology to examine products from vendors in the target market space. At the top level, these include the vendor’s ability to execute and its completeness of vision. Each category has multiple sublevels examining how each vendor approaches its product and service delivery.
Reading through the report brings to light some of the issues IT organizations face when trying to choose their favorite vendor. Some vendors, such as Dell EMC, have a wide range of offerings that tend to overlap in some areas. This could be a plus for companies with a wide range of requirements and a desire to stick with one vendor if possible. On the other hand, it could be confusing for small-to-medium enterprise customers with a smaller IT footprint.
To a certain extent, this is where the integration offered by the market leaders comes in. Top-ranked Nutanix, for example, has partnerships with other vendors in the quadrant as well as certifications on the equipment and services offered by other market leaders discussed in the Gartner report. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which jumped into this space with its acquisition of SimpliVity in 2017, makes an appearance on the leadership part of the quadrant with a combination of well-tested software (VMware vCenter), the availability of cutting-edge hardware (such as the all-flash ProLiant DL380), and standardized choices for customers (for example, a broad selection of preconfigured product SKUs).
These strategic partnerships are key to many of the vendor solutions. At this point, you can choose just about any hypervisor as a foundation of your HCI solution—that is, unless you buy a VMware-specific solution, which might limit your hardware choices. All of the major OEMs, such as HPE, support running software from Citrix, Microsoft, Nutanix, Red Hat, and VMware. In the end, it probably comes down to IT staff familiarity with a particular operating system.
Cloud integration is a key factor for many new customers whose IT strategy includes moving some functions to the cloud. Both Microsoft and VMware have placed heavy emphasis on moving on-premises workloads up to the cloud. VMware teamed with Amazon and other providers, like Rackspace, to make it possible to migrate existing virtual machines with minimal disruption. And Microsoft, Amazon, and VMware all work with most of the other vendors in this space.
Disaster recovery and backup also play a role in the hybrid cloud story. Microsoft has one of the stronger plays here with Azure backup and the ability to seamlessly fail over from an on-premises virtual machine to a cloud-based one. This same capability exists in other forms from other companies, such as Veeam’s backup tools.
At the end of the day, it comes back to decision-making based on core business needs.
Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure, Jan. 2, 2019, John McArthur, Kiyomi Yamada, Philip Dawson, and Julia Palmer
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