More companies are turning to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) as a platform for multi-cloud deployments and on-premises container management. Cisco’s latest HyperFlex software release supports both.

HyperFlex is Cisco’s HCI platform. It includes Cisco hardware and software acquired from Springpath.

With today’s HX 3.0 software release, Cisco gives customers a choice between two hypervisors, adding Microsoft Hyper-V to the list. Earlier versions only supported VMware’s hypervisor.

It also adds container support with a new driver to provide persistent storage for Kubernetes-managed containers. This enables deployment of cloud-native applications on HyperFlex, inside the data center.

“Until now, developers looked to the public cloud for that type of environment,” said Todd Brannon, director of product marketing, unified computing at Cisco. “We’re seeing teams looking for an on-premises solution for container development. They want to be able to do both, and what we’re doing here is a big step forward for providing that on-premises solution.”

This ties into Cisco’s partnership with Google as well. The two companies in October 2017 joined forces on a hybrid cloud play that, among other things, allows enterprises to deploy Kubernetes-based containers on premises and in Google Cloud Platform.

Multi-Cloud Software Integrations

The updated HCI software also integrates with Cisco’s multi-cloud software. AppDynamics, which Cisco acquired last year, enables performance monitoring of hybrid applications running tiers on HyperFlex and across multiple clouds. Cisco Workload Optimization Manager assists organizations with workloads placement analysis of workloads onto HyperFlex. And CloudCenter, Cisco’s cloud management and cost comparison tool, allows companies to move workloads between HyperFlex and other public and private clouds.

“We’re calling this a platform for multi-cloud,” Brannon said. “I like to say good multi-cloud starts at home. HyperFlex gives you very cloud-like attributes on-prem, and really lets our customers develop strong IaaS [infrastructure-as-a-service] capabilities.

Additionally, the software release gives companies greater scalability and resilience on premises. HyperFlex clusters have been expanded to 64 node cluster scales with added resiliency, and customers can stretch clusters across data centers. This allows enterprises to meet data protection and high availability requirements in various global markets.

Companies can also manage their HCI clusters across data centers from the cloud. Intersight, which is Cisco’s cloud-based management program, now supports HyperFlex. This means customers can deploy and manage clusters at any location remotely and concurrently.

Fast-Growing Data Center Tech

HCI sales increased 68 percent in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the earlier year, generating $1 billion in revenue, or one-third of the overall converged systems sales. It’s one of the fastest growing technology segments in the data center, and because of this all of the leading vendors including Cisco are upping their HCI game.

Cisco yesterday announced plans to acquire Skyport Systems, a private company that provides HCI with the added benefit of security.

Also yesterday Big Switch said its data center switching fabric now supports HCI products from Nutanix, Dell EMC, and VMware.

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