BLOG: Nimble dHCI from HPE – Clever Marketing or Business Focused Technology?

April 22nd, 2020 BLOG: Nimble dHCI from HPE – Clever Marketing or Business Focused Technology?
Nate Maurer
Storage Solutions Architect


dis·ag·gre·gate, verb

past tense: disaggregated; separate (something) into its component parts.

dHCI. Strange name. Let’s address the elephant in the room… what is dHCI?


HPE Nimble Storage dHCI was introduced in 2019 at HPE Discover (along with new SimpliVity HCI hardware models for remote sites and bulk storage). Nimble dHCI consists of HPE ProLiant servers packaged with Nimble Storage arrays, along with automation software to help with deployment.

Now, what does dHCI stand for? Honestly, my first thoughts revolve around something akin to high school chemistry and learning the chemical equation for table salt (Sodium Chloride – NaCl) – ‘please pass the NaCl.’ In this case, dHCI is an acronym for disaggregated Hyper Converged Infrastructure, which, in an industry afloat with acronyms, doesn’t seem too bad. Now, if you’re like me, you’re likely be wondering to yourself… if I disaggregate Hyper Converged Infrastructure, am I not left with a Converged Infrastructure? I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but we already have Converged Infrastructure, and we’ve had it for a few years.

If I sound a bit skeptical at this point in my diatribe, it is because I was. A Converged System is/was a great idea – bring compute, storage, and virtualization technologies together in a single rack and treat it as a single system. If we needed more storage or compute, we were able to scale either, independently of the other. The price of this idea was increased cost, as well as a special team to setup, maintain, and administer, but it was progress; it did break down some barriers between the compute, storage, networking, and virtualization teams within any given organization. So, please bear with me a bit longer because I do not intend to disparage dHCI any further, but rather to include you on my journey to an understanding of what dHCI is, and what it is not. We will look at the business benefit, the technical advantage, and applicable use cases.

The marketing material states simply, The flexibility of converged and the simplicity of HCI. That’s pretty straight forward, and something that was not immediately clear to me in June 2019 when this product was announced, at Discover in Las Vegas. Earlier, I mentioned that converged systems had the ability to scale compute and storage independently of each other. What I did not mention was the concept that Hyper Converged Infrastructure or HCI is very easy to deploy and has unified management. It is also modular, meaning that to add capacity, we simply add another node, which adds an additional compliment of compute and storage. The fault of converged was unified management, and the fault of HCI is linear scaling, in a largely nonlinear environment. HPE realized this and got to work coming up with an offering called dHCI which addresses the faults of both converged and HCI, while keeping the benefits of both… namely flexible scaling of the components that make up dHCI with unified management. These come together, along with the AI engine from Nimble Infosight and HPE Infosight for Servers, to create a right-sized solution that can be quickly deployed, easily managed, highly resilient, and efficiently scalable. This enables businesses to free human resources for other tasks and insure balanced consumption of capital resources.

What makes dHCI special is noted when we add intelligent platform to the marketing verbiage the flexibility of converged and the simplicity of HCI. The intelligence of dHCI comes from a combination of HPE-specific products that are used with the dHCI solution. In general terms, it is artificial intelligence and an open extensible management framework. To be more specific, it is Infosight and OneView for both Nimble and Proliant. Infosight came to HPE via the acquisition of Nimble storage, and OneView has been developed by HPE as the unified monitoring and management tool built on the REST API. As I do not wish to turn this simple Blog post into a technical white paper, I will just say this: Infosight enables HPE to offer a resilient design, with 99.9999% (6 9’s) availability and as low as 200 microsecond data response, with automatic QoS. OneView enables 15 minutes rack-to-application setup and complete management from within the vCenter console. Finally, the Nimble storage technology utilizes dedupe and compression, in a manner that does not slow storage response and can provide 21x data reduction. (FWIW – I took 21x from HPE materials, but my experience is that your mileage may vary, as data reduction has always been heavily dependent on data type. I find that 2x to 3x is more typical, at least for my customers.)

Anything that you virtualize today, or plan to virtualize in the near future, would benefit from dHCI’s speed of deployment, ease of management, and scaling efficiencies. One thing that is top of mind in this new era of COVID-19 social distancing is how quickly and easily a dHCI environment can be stood up, and with the addition of appropriate VMware Horizon licenses, can quickly enable remote workers who now must stay at home.

In summary, dHCI is an Intelligent platform with the flexibility of converged and the simplicity of HCI that provides rapid deployment, unified management, and efficient scaling. It is especially well suited to address nonlinear growth and consumption of hardware resources. dHCI has the ability to address one of the current needs of today’s business environment – that of the newly-remote workers.

More Information
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Pass the NaCl, please.


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