UPDATED 01:08 EDT / AUGUST 30 2012

Simplivity’s CN-3000 Launch Plays Into a VMworld Simplicity Theme

Information technology is complex.  Making it easier means being able to spend less time on the technology and more time on business-facing, bottom line-driven tasks.  A new company at VMworld has plans to do just that and they hit the show with a splash, using the event as an opportunity to launch their new product.

A bit about Simplivity

The company, named Simplivity, started in 2009 and formally launched their OmniCube product this week at VMworld.  Simplivity’s OmniCube aims to bring to both SMBs and the enterprise a vastly simplified technology environment.  If you look at a modern data center, there are a myriad of devices operating in the environment, including:

  • Servers
  • Commodity storage arrays
  • High performance storage arrays
  • WAN acceleration devices
  • Backup and deduplication devices
  • Cloud integration devices

Each of the aforementioned devices requires an individual skill set to learn.  In a great many organizations, this means that the same person often needs to learn how to manage and optimize multiple hardware devices.

The OmniCube

Simplivity aims to replace the entire legacy stack with one or more OmniCube devices.  An OmniCube is a single infrastructure building block element that integrates everything needed to operate into a single box.  As these individual blocks are stacked, they form OmniStacks.

Simplivity’s solution includes:

  • Compute capabilities.  The OmniCube CN-3000, the only currently shipping OmniCube, has 2 x 6 core 2.5 GHz Xeon E5-2640 processors.
  • Storage.  With 4 x 200 GB SSDs and 8 x 3 TB HDDs, each OmniCube provides a blend of capacity and performance that can support different kinds of workloads.  Simplivity indicates that this configuration provides an effective capacity of 20 to 40 TB depending on deduplication and compression levels for each workload.
  • RAM. The ON-3000 supports anywhere from 48 GB to 768 GB of RAM.
  • Network. Each OmniCube includes 2 x 1 GbE Ethernet ports and 2 x 10 GbE  SFP+ ports.
  • Deduplication and compression are built into the OmniCube as standard features.
  • Backup and replication between OmniCubes in different data centers.

Each OmniCube is a 2U hardware box with dual power supplies.  As additional resources are required, administrators can leverage Simplivity’s scale-out architecture and deploy new devices.  On the software side, OmniCubes run vSphere and are managed entirely through vCenter.

When OmniCubes are combined, they create a pool of shared resources that enable comprehensive high availability features, such as local HA, data protection within a data center and more.

The Cost Factor

Simplivity aims to simply IT operations and is a play intended to address the total cost of ownership of IT architecture.  Solutions such as Simplivity—and I would include vendors such as Nutanix and Pivot3 in this space as well—bring a Vblock-like building block infrastructure approach to the lower end of the market and at lower initial costs, although they are not limited to the low end.

Through the inclusion of enterprise-grade features such as deduplication, backup and replication, Simplivity appears to be attempting to become the one stop shop for CIOs that want to take the pain out of infrastructure management.

Simplivity has established a list price of $54,990 for the company’s initial CN-3000.  For the SMB space, this may prove to be a little steep unless Simplivity can do an exceptional job with the TCO of their solution.  With the wide array of enterprise-grade features found in the device, Simplivity has a good story to tell.  That said, in order to enjoy those features, an organization needs to buy multiple units.  It will be interesting to see how customers react to Simplivity’s presentation and if the overall benefits hold true.

One additional challenge that Simplivity will need to overcome in the short term is the dearth of configurability found in the product set.  At present only the CN-3000 is available.  While the company has indicated that varying models are under development, customers may take a wait and see approach until they see some choice hit the product sheet.

Scott’s Take

I generally like these kinds of products as they can remove significant complexity from the IT environment.  As a result, there can be significant gains in efficiency in the IT operation that can translate to lower costs and improved focus on business enablement.  Simplivity has jumped on the scene and may prove to be a major player in the space.  My primary concern revolves around the list price and how customers may react when attempting to perform comparisons between Simplivity and commodity hardware, even if the Simplivity offering includes accelerated storage and a swath of enterprise features.

A drive to simplifying IT was a major theme at VMworld this year, so seeing a company like Simplivity launch a simplifying product was certainly apropos.

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