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Nutanix leads first hyper-converged Magic Quadrant

Gartner now gives hyper-convergence a Magic Quadrant of its own, and places Nutanix as the leader in the upper right-hand corner.

Dell EMC, VMware and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise also sit in the leaders’ quadrant with Nutanix in the hyper-converged Magic Quadrant Gartner released this week. So Dell Technologies is also sitting pretty as owner of Dell EMC and VMware, and an OEM partner of Nutanix.

Previously, Gartner included hyper-converged systems as part of its Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems.

Gartner defines hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) as “a category of scale-out software-integrated infrastructure that applies a modular approach to compute, network and storage on standard hardware, leveraging distributed, horizontal building blocks under unified management.” It adds in the hyper-converged Magic Quadrant report that HCI vendors can build their own appliances with off-the-shelf infrastructure, or sell HCI software in partnership with system vendors or resellers/integrators. They can also sell HCI software directly to end users, or as HCI-as-a-service on-premises or in a public cloud.

Gartner credits HCI pioneer Nutanix with overcoming the IT world’s reluctance to invest in a new vendor, and raising confidence level in its product’s performance to continue to scale deployments. Gartner puts Nutanix’s customer base at more than 7,800.

Nutanix also won points for its robust management and self-service interface and choice of its KVM-based AHV hypervisor as an alternative to VMware ESXi. Nutanix’s negatives include lack of broad appeal to remote offices, departments, edge implementations and SMBs, according to Gartner.

Dell EMC is ranked high mainly due to its VxRail appliance and VxRack rackscale system. Those run on Dell PowerEdge servers and integrate with VMware technology and Dell EMC products such as Avamar, DataDomain, RecoverPoint and CloudArray. But Gartner points out that VxRail uses a different software release cycle than VMware and often lags behind the latest version of VMware’s vSAN HCI software.

Gartner ranks VMware vSAN separately from the Dell EMC HCI products, because vSAN is also sold as standalone software and packaged with other vendors’ servers. Gartner said VMware sells the broadest set of hyper-converged systems, but customers must pay extra for features such as deduplication, compression and erasure coding, and vSAN customers have reported performance and stability issues.

HPE bolstered its hyper-converged platform with the February, 2017 acquisition of SimpliVity, which is now sold on HPE ProLiant servers. Gartner says HPE doubled its HCI customer count to around 2,000 since the acquisition. HPE scores points for SimpliVity’s data services that include backup and disaster recover capabilities, but is cited for lack of flexibility with support only for VMware hypervisors and all-flash configurations.

Gartner lists Cisco, Pivot3 and Huawei as challengers in the hyper-converged Magic Quadrant, Stratoscale and Microsoft as visionaries, and Scale Computing, DataCore and HTBase as niche players.