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Cisco-Springpath deal to expand users' hyper-converged options

Cisco's purchase of Springpath could open the door to further use of hyper-converged software across the Cisco portfolio, including in its Unified Computing System.

Cisco UCS customers will likely see more benefits from hyper-converged software as a result of the vendor's recent acquisition of a small software partner.

Cisco said it will buy Springpath Inc. for $320 million, with the deal expected to close by late October. Cisco had invested in Springpath in 2015 and has since released HyperFlex, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) that combines Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Springpath hyper-converged software.

The Cisco-Springpath deal brings long-term cohesion to the partnership, said Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research. Springpath's advanced storage technology is well-suited for high-volume storage applications, such as the Cisco Tetration Analytics platform, and it opens up the possibility of improved orchestration capabilities for containers and virtual machines -- an area where Cisco has little experience, he said.

It will make it easy to troubleshoot different layers; with one vendor, that simplifies things.
James Safonovdirector of technical services, The Brooklyn Hospital Center

At least one Cisco customer saw immediate value in the acquisition, with the expectation that it will bring tighter integration between Cisco and Springpath technologies. "It will make it easy to troubleshoot different layers; with one vendor, that simplifies things," said James Safonov, who once used HyperFlex as head of IT and information security at City Harvest in New York. Safonov is now director of technical services at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.

Since Safonov bought HyperFlex, Cisco has added third-party storage management, an all-flash model, drive encryption and a simplified graphical user interface. He said he expects the Cisco-Springpath deal to bring further improvements.

The acquisition is part of a broader strategy within Cisco to expand its software portfolio, according to Liz Centoni, ‎senior vice president and general manager of the computing systems product group at Cisco, in a blog post. Cisco executives were unavailable to comment. In March, Cisco started to push its HyperFlex as an HCI product that was more than just a platform for virtual desktop infrastructure.

Eventually, Springpath software should find a use in other parts of the Cisco business, in much the same way the UCS server was spread to other areas of Cisco, such as collaboration and unified communications, said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him on Twitter @RBGatesTT or email him at [email protected].

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