HPE Simplivity Models Revealed

A few weeks ago I covered the news that HPE had announced their intention to acquire hyper-converged outfit SimpliVity. Well HPE have wasted no time completing the acquisition and rolling out the first opportunity to bundle SimpliVity with HPE products.

The initial offering announced recently combines the SimpliVity software with the world’s bestselling server a HPE DL 380. The product is being snappily called a HPE SimpliVity 380 with OmniStack, those geniuses in marketing have really out done themselves this time. At least it has escaped the fate of being called a Store something and hopefully Nimble can as well when they join the product line up.


The SimpliVity offering is slightly different from the StoreVirtual VSA in that its component parts are not only software but software and hardware in the form of the OmniStack Accelerator Card. This PCIe based device enables caching, dedupe and compression and form a key part of the SimpliVity solution. From HPE’s point of view this prevents them from bundling the SimpliVity option with all servers like was possible with the VSA. It will be interesting to see in the future if you can add SimpliVity functionality post purchase with a software upgrade and installation of OmniStack Accelerator Card. I am sure someone from SimpliVity/HPE will shout if there are technical barriers to this.


Back to the recent announcement 3 models will be available at launch all based on the DL 380 servers platform and so will take on a 2U form factor. The new models will be all flash only and come in a small, medium and large models. The variance between the models is storage space and additional memory in the larger models to drive the VM’s and throughput.


This is in line with the current OmniCube and 3rd party modelling offerings from SimpliVity. What is different is that they are only available in all flash in the HPE form. It will be interesting to see if this is a strategic decision to go all flash only. The only other difference I could spot with the previous version was that the medium and large models will both run RAID 6 whereas previously it was just the largest model. This seems likely linked to the larger HD size 1.9TB seen in the HPE model v 1.6TB seen in the previous model.

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Simplivity quick guide

Now that the dust has started to settle on the Simplivity acquisition news I wanted to do a cheats guide to get readers up and running with who Simplivity are, what the tech is all about and some thoughts on what we can expect in the future.



Simplivity was founded in 2009 and spent more than 3 years in stealth as they wanted to bring a unique product to market.  As we will see in the tech section their product covers the standard definition of hyper-converged compute, storage and hypervisor plus some additional features.  The company based in Massachusetts has been through 7 rounds of funding totalling $276 million.  The company was acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise on January 17 for $650 million, delivering investors a 2.4 times return on investment. This would appear to be a bargain given the $1 billion valuation attributed to the company during its last round of funding and well below the initial rumours of $4 billion.

Market Position

Whilst traditional storage revenues have been declining hyper-converged system growth has been booming.  Gartner were projecting 79% growth in the HCI sector in 2016 with the market expected to reach a $5 billion valuation by 2019.

For those new to this concept hyper-converged brings compute, storage and hypervisor into a single box. This datacentre in a box idea brings benefits such as less floor space in the DC, single point of management for infrastructure and ease of deployment.  Generally these hyper converged systems can be thought of as building blocks, so as you need more compute or storage you just add more of your chosen hyper-converged nodes to expand the capacity of your infrastructure.



So far we know that Simplivity is a hyper-converged “data centre in a box” product. The first thing to recognise is that Simplivity goes beyond the standard definition of hyper-converged a shown in this graphic from Simplivity.


The following should give you a good feel for the product:

  • Physically each node of a Simplivity system is a 2U form factor, today called an OmniCube. This forms the building block of a Simplivity system.
  • The KVM, Hyper-V and VMware hypervisors are supported.
  • Each node contains an OmniStack Accelerator Card. All data is written to the DRAM on this card where the write is acknowledged, this is like caching on a SAN.
  • Data is compressed and deduped by the OmniStack Accelerator Card in line. This is very similar to the idea of using an ASIC in the 3PAR, by using an additional piece of hardware it is possible to offload all this work from the CPU. This is especially important in hyper-converged where the same CPU will also be powering your VM’s.
  • A collection of local Simplivity nodes is called a Simplivity Data Centre
  • The storage across all nodes in Simplivity Data Centre is pooled together into a single logical file system. Dedupe and compression is across the Simplivity data centre. Simplivity claim a median data efficiency of 40:1.
  • Backup is possible using Simplivity natively without third party tools and is policy driven.
  • Simplivity systems across physical data centres can be grouped together in a federation, this enables a single point of management. It is possible to move VMs and backup across a federation.
  • All data is deduped and compressed inline at ingestion. This includes backup and replication data, so when the data arrives at the target system it will check if data is unique before writing it to disk.
  • You may hear the terminology data virtualization platform – this is essentially the layer that abstracts the VM from the underlying hardware. Locally this means the disks from all nodes are abstracted to appear as a single pool of storage and within a Federation this allows the free movement of VM’s between Simplivity Data Centres.
  • Systems can all be managed centrally within the vSphere web client .



Its clear HPE will want to bundle the Simplivity software with its ProLiant DL380 servers, and the official press release stated this will happen within 90 days of closing the deal. They will continue to offer Simplivity with an expanded list of the Proliant catalogue from there.  HPE have stated they will continue to offer the HC 380 and HC250. Simplivity partners with 6 manufactures including Dell and Lenovo.  If HPE continue to honour this deal and take an additional revenue stream or focus entirely on organic growth will remain to be seen

It is interesting that the Simplivity dedupe and compression magic is performed at a hardware level with the OmniStack Accelerator Card similar to the 3PAR approach with the ASIC.  I wonder if we see this get bolted onto the 3PAR the future to enhance the dedupe capability and deliver compression.

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HPE grabs a bargain with Simplivity acquisition

New Blog URL

This will be the last post on 3ParDude.com all content and traffic will be moving across to d8taDude.com, so please update your favourites. D8taDude.com is not yet live, it will go live in the next few days when I do the switch over. If you follow via WordPress or e-mail no action is required I will move your subscription across. This is the new RSS feed and on Twitter I am now @d8taDude. The change is to give me more scope to cover a wider range of products, including of course Simplivity! This will not be at the cost of 3PAR coverage, which will continue as normal at the new address.


When I first heard the rumors about the HPE Simplivity take over at the end of last year, I must say I was really excited. 3PAR has long been the jewel in HPE’S storage crown, but at times it has seemed like it’s stood alone. The real strength of a large company like HPE comes when they have a broad portfolio of products, meeting a range of customer’s needs and offering interoperability between them.



The Simplivity deal was confirmed this week at a bargain basement price of $650 million. Given that 3PAR was acquired for $2.4 billion and SolidFire was purchased for $870 million this really does seem like a great price for one of the leading vendors in the hyper-converged space.

For those not familiar with Simplivity, they are the number two player in the hyper-converged market i.e. converged server and hypervisor in a single unit. The hyper-converged market has been growing very strongly, appealing to customers who have seen the simplicity and speed of deployment in the cloud and wish for a similar experience in their data centre. Hyper-converged appliances offer the rapid deployment and easy management customers are looking for. Since core components of the infrastructure are deployed /managed from a single interface and contained within the same piece of hardware.

Simplivity currently sell their offering in the form of what they call an OmniCube which is a 2U appliance bundling the compute, hypervisor and Simplivity software. Simplivity also currently offer solutions based on Cisco, Dell, Huawei and Lenovo hardware. Given that HPE is the world’s largest server manufacturer this is a great tie up. It seems unlikely the existing deals with other server manufacturers will continue beyond the day the deal goes live, and that future generations of Simplivity will be ProLiant based.


Hyper-converged market pressure

This must however be food for thought for the other hyper-converged players and the start-up storage market as a whole. Observers have been predicting the shake-up of the hyper converged market, which though growing strongly seemed to have a disproportionate number of companies competing. This along with several key players strengthening their position such as Nutanix managing to IPO, VMware’s VSAN product continuing to mature and now HPE’s deal must put even more pressure on the remaining vendors. Although it is worth noting that Nutanix stock finished the day after the announcement (18/1/16) down 6.26%.


HPE’s handling of previous takeovers has been mixed, of course 3PAR was a real success. I think the winning formula was to bring across as many key individuals as possible, don’t do anything drastic initially to let the product speak for its self before offering integration with other products and common management tools etc. NetApp appears to have followed this sort of approach with SolidFire, which again looks like a successful acquisition

Real points of interest will be firstly to see what they do with the existing hyper converged range.  The HC systems based on the grand daddy of all hyper converged software Lefthand,  now looks in a perfect precarious position.  I don’t see them supporting and investing into separate product lines in the long term.

Integration with existing storage products such as 3PAR will likely be added to the roadmap, as well as integration with converged solutions such as Synergy.

Thanks for reading and remember future posts will be coming from d8taDude.com, the site will become accessible on switch over in the next few days. My new Twitter handle is @d8taDude