When hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) vendor Pivot3 purchased the storage solution provider NexGen earlier this year, there were some solid tactical motivations behind the acquisition. NexGen had a highly competitive product in the accelerated flash array space with high quality of service (QoS) capabilities. Where Pivot3 had gaps in sales coverage, NexGen had a presence. And NexGen’s strong channel program accelerated that of Pivot3.
But Pivot3 considers NexGen’s science and intellectual property the jewel of the acquisition. Now, three months after the partnership started, they’re releasing their first joint product, called vSTAC SLX.
While still new, the HCI field is starting to get a little noisy. Analyst firm Gartner predicts it will grow 79 percent to reach almost $2 billion in 2016, and everyone wants in on the game. Dell, EMC, HP and Hitachi all have varying solutions they call hyperconverged. Then there are all your smaller players like Riverbed, Nutanix, SimpliVity and Pivot3. Whoever brings a truly flexible, broadly-applicable hyperconverged solution to market first will gain a significant competitive advantage—and Pivot3 says they’ve done that.
Bruce Milne, chief marketing officer for Pivot3, says the beauty of vSTAC SLX is that it allows for the collocation and prioritization of multiple workloads on a consolidated, rationalized infrastructure. The goal of the software is to solve the “noisy neighbor dynamic,” when a less important application steals resources from mission critical apps. This would eliminate a longstanding headache for the nascent HCI space, where hyperconvergence is often still constrained to a single use case like virtual desktops, business continuity or disaster recovery.
“Nobody questions the value proposition of the validity of HCI. It’s just how extensible is it beyond that first use case when you don’t have a way to contend with the resources,” said Milne.
Pivot3 touts the new product as offering first-to-market flexibility, allowing end users to allocate resources according to priority. Industries such as healthcare or finance that use complex, heavy-duty graphics rendering for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) need more processing power, for instance. Advanced analytics applications, on the other hand, need high input/output performance. vSTAC SLX lets the user decide which applications are most important, all under the same management console, framework and operating system. That ability to prioritize workloads, Milne says, should get the channel excited.
“HCI has previously been all about attached storage, and there’s been no notion of taking advantage of the infrastructure in the data center that actually works well,” said Milne. “Storage area networks have their purpose. Why would I throw that away in the interest of deploying HCI if HCI can’t scale to that kind of I/O performance?”
The company also plans a rapid cadence of product releases; the next one will be released in August. “Keep in mind that as a hyperconverged vendor, we are actually a software vendor. We package and deliver on appliances, but our primary value proposition is the software that we develop, and we can upgrade that software,” says Milne. “As we roll out new features, we can actually upgrade and bring our customers along.”
Pivot3 and NexGen have merged their two partner programs, which now share a common portal, common deal registration and common comarketing. The company is actively training its partners how to tie the vSTAC SLX technology to business outcomes with a new messaging platform accessible via their online portal. A webinar series is in development, and the company is conducting face-to-face trainings with top-tier partners.