Last June I met Doron Kempel, CEO and cofounder, of Simplivity. Before the meeting I was a little bit skeptical about the company and the product (my thought was something like: “another me-too company jumped in the hyper-converged infrastructure bandwagon”) but after the presentation my doubts were totally dissolved by a brilliant technology stack, a great product and very focused strategy!

Simply Simplivity

Simplivity began its activity in 2009 (in Westborough, MA). It is well funded and its team (100+ people now, 65 engineers) has been working on a hyper-converged infrastructure product, called OmniCube, since its inception. This is a true technology company, in its short life it has already applied for 10 different patents.
It’s CEO, D. Kempel, was the man who founded Diligent (later sold to IBM) and this is a useful information to understand some of Simplivity’s background and DNA.
OmniCube is out on the market since the end of last year but it has already gained the interest of many customers all around the world.

Simply Omnicube

I think that the first important thing to say about Simplivity is that it’s primarily a software company.
In fact, the OmniCube’s hardware is a Dell 2RU server with some flash and SATA disks into it. Dell also grants worldwide hardware support to Simplivity customers (so if you like Simplivity but you work in a small and remote european town you can safely buy it without worrying about local support)
Each node grants 20/40 TB of effective space, RAM, CPU and 10GbE connectivity. Kempel also said that for bigger customers, like telcos for example, they can certify different type of servers or configurations!

The software allow the Omnicube to be a brick of a very next generation hyper converged infrastructure. You need two nodes (at least) to have a high available configuration (good for remote offices or DR sites) and one more to have all the available features. The list of features is very long indeed, but it can be summarized as follows:

  • no shared storage,
  • total scale-out architecture,
  • global deduplication,
  • VM level granularity for all the functionalities,
  • global federation,
  • single point of management (through vCenter).

Deduplication is pervasive into the product and enables all the smart features on top. I didn’t attended an actual demo yet, but on paper, replication features are awesome on both capability and ease of use sides.

The product can also do backup operations to the cloud (Amazon AWS now, others in the future). It means that you can copy a VM to the cloud but you can’t run it on the cloud (it’s only available for a restore)… but, if you think about the next future, when you’ll be able to copy your VM to vHCS for example: you potentially have all the infrastructure to spin up that VM from there! (Doron didn’t mention future plans about this feature, it’s only my guess)
In the next future OmniCube will also support Hyper-V and KVM/Openstack, but it’s not clear which one will be the out first.

Simply more on the hardware

There is something more on the hardware side and it’s a FPGA based PCIe card that accelerates all optimization activities. It pushes up the performance of the OmniCube and achieves better efficiency without compromising CPU resources. This accelerator uses very small blocks for deduplication (4/8KB) and some NVRAM stuff to organize and speed up writes.

Simply strategy

Simplivity-logoStrategy is simple (and aggressive), Simplivity already started operations in EU and they have been selling here from a couple of months now. They are growing quickly with local partners and with success cases (for example, here in Europe T-System is both a success case and a partner!).

Bottom line

The product looks good and so does the technology behind. The features of this first release are already impressive and I think that if you are looking for a new VMware hardware infrastructure you should evaluate it… especially if you are looking at ways to cut TCO.
As I mentioned before, I’m still waiting for a real demo to dig more into the technology and implementation aspects but, at the moment, I really love the Simplivity approach.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this meeting by Condor Consulting Group and they paid for travel and accommodation, I have not been compensated for my time and am not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than the Juku team.