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Cash-rich SimpliVity bets the farm on rip-'n'-replace boxen

Will enterprises junk legacy IT for virtual data centre-in-a-box?

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SimpliVity is betting its business on the idea that existing layered server/storage and networking boxes-style IT is heading towards the crash barrier. The company has bagged $25m in funding to market and sell the hell out of its OmniCube product, the one-trick pony that does it all for virtual machines.

The box is a 2U rack enclosure containing server, storage and networking hardware plus software that presents it as a virtualised data centre-in-a-box resource. Two or more can be federated together. The boxes replace, at a stroke, existing IT systems for running applications in virtual machines that have allied storage.

The software provides "WAN optimization, unified global management, seamless cloud integration, primary storage deduplication, backup deduplication, caching, global scale out" — all apparently at a fraction of today’s traditional operating costs and with a game-changing reduction in complexity.

This is SimpliVity's second funding round, the total now standing at $43 million. The company was founded in 2009 by Doron Kempel, its CEO, who was earlier co-founded deduplication start-up Diligent, acquired by IBM. The new funders, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, are keen on SimpliVity's proposition but that's to be expected; they've put millions of dollars where their mouth is.

This SimpliVity proposition: are they serious? Junk your existing IT kit, painfully assembled and integrated deep in your IT department's skills, operational and architectural expertise, and simply rip and replace it with these version one boxes?

That's a big mouthful to chew. But SimpliVity says the acquisition and running costs with its kit are vastly less than continuing with your existed glued-together assemblage of mis-matched, over-complex, legacy hardware components. What you have is an inglorious mess. It can't be fixed, so walk away, would be the start-up's pitch.

Walk away to converged systems, but not the half-assed ones like VCE's Vblocks or NetApp's FlexPods. These represent a halfway house, like lipstick on the IT pig. You need a whole new design, a ground-up fresh look at the way to build and provision IT resources, and – if you're listening to SimpliVity's CEO – the OmniCube is it.

We might characterise SimpliVity's view as being that the old glued-together architectures of the past 50 years are not going to cut it moving forward. They didn't work for Amazon or Google, which had to devise their own IT infrastructure, and sooner or later, it won't work for other data centres. According to the company, CIOs will soon all be concerned with data centre building block simplicity and self-optimisation.

Kempel says: "Based on the unprecedented early demand for OmniCube, the first order of business is to prepare for imminent hyper-growth.”

The company is going balls-out but, considering the nature of its product offer, it's only logical. This is one start-up that could take off and soar into the sky like a rocket or crash and burn like a bunker buster bomb – and it's unlikely to take the middle road. ®

High performance access to file storage

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