Converged infrastructures combine networking, servers and storage into a preconfigured and usually pre-engineered solution for running applications. They have been called integrated infrastructures, engineered systems amongst other things. Some converged solutions are intended for specific applications, while others are intended for generalized workloads. They have been around in one form or another since the mid-late 2000’s and their adoption is continually growing. IBM, HP, NetApp, EMC, Cisco, Oracle, Dell, Nutanix and Pivot3 are a few companies in this market.
IDC recently reported that the second quarter 2013 revenue for the worldwide integrated infrastructure and platform market grew 50.2% over revenue for second quarter 2012 to reach $1.3 billion. Also according to IDC Oracle is the top vendor of converged infrastructure systems for, specific applications, with second quarter 2013 revenue of $306 million, up 39% over the same period as last year. IDC gives Oracle a 56.7% share of this market segment.
For general-purpose, distributed workloads, IDC said sales for this segment reached $775.7 million, up 80.3% over last year. Leading this segment in the second quarter is the FlexPod alliance of Cisco and NetApp with sales of $203 million, up 47% over the same period last year. Close behind is VCE, a joint venture of Cisco, EMC and VMware, which saw its revenue rise 35% to $176 million.
The trends in this space generally leverage the individual trends in the networking, storage and server markets, making those technologies available within a converged design.
Management is a key trend in this space as all the key players: IBM, Cisco & HP have been developing greater overall management capabilities. Cisco has UCS Manager, UCS Central and UCS Director designed to increase efficiencies and integrate management for larger scale deployments. HP will be releasing HP OneView that allows data center administrators to provision, manage and monitor the operational health of HP BladeSystem servers and HP ProLiant generation 7 and 8 servers. IBM has Flex System Manager that includes management and automation capabilities to more effectively manage the performance of the environment.
Integration of NAND based Flash technologies is a growing trend in this space with the expectation that future converged solutions will have embedded NAND Flash options that will provide centralized, distributed or shared cache capabilities within a cluster of elements. Cisco’s purchase of WhipTail is an example of this trend.
Faster network access to the apps is another trend. 40GB to the server is available in most flavors and 100GB is not far off.
The addition and consolidation of multi-function management capabilities in a single toolset, higher performing and denser hardware, leveraging flash technologies and faster network speeds are also driving converged infrastructures to be better suited for the underlying hardware in software defined data center (SDDC) architectures and supporting tier 1 applications in the data center.