Red Hat dons hyperconverged headware

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When is a server a hyper-server? When it bundles V12N, RHEL, Gluster and Ansible

The company’s play has seen it bundle its very own Linux, Red Hat Virtualization, the Gluster network filesystem and Ansible automation tool into a package capable of running on lots of servers, or one.

Red Hat’s hanging this product on two ideas. The first is its familiar proposition that community-built software is more innovative, and less risky, than proprietary code that only advances on a vendor’s whim. Red Hat’s made a business of supporting such code and offers itself up to do the same with this collection too.

The second idea is that one stack running everywhere is a fine idea. The company has an interesting play here, because most hyperconverged infrastructure ships as appliances packing in a few servers. The company’s announcement says its hyperconverged stack will run on one server in a remote office (although the product’s data sheet (PDF) says it will need three in a cluster), but still give users the same experience in a data centre cluster or a tower under a desk in a remote office. Indeed, those remote offices and the “Edge” are the place Red Hat is aiming this one, with the company’s CloudForms offered as the tool to manage the fleet.

Red Hat has a decent chance of succeeding if the one-server-on-the-edge claim is correct, because the cost of hyperconverged appliances is often cited as a hindrance to their adoption. But it also faces opposition that’s succeeded in part by offering a convincing one throat to choke proposition for hardware and software, thanks in part to close integration between hardware and software. ®

UPDATE: Red Hat’s been in touch to say that the “one server” story is kind of right: a branch office will need one server … for each of software-defined storage, virtual host runtimes and management. Which won’t make Red Hat’s edge appliances super-simple compared to other hyperconverged vendors who pack all their servers into one chassis. It does compare decently with VMware’s VSAN, which needs at least three servers to stand up.

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