Qumulo Partners with HPE, Super Micro as it Sheds Hardware Business

High-end storage vendor Qumulo is teaming up with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to roll out a highly dense, all-flash node based on a compact HPE ProLiant aimed at data-intensive workloads from autonomous vehicle data, video surveillance and security information, and high-end research.

The introduction this week of the 1U HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen10 Plus 291TB All-NVMe node is the latest step in Qumulo’s exit from the hardware business and opting instead to only sell its scale-out file system software running on other vendors’ systems or as a service in the cloud.

Qumulo, which was founded in 2012, until this year had been selling its software on white-box systems from other vendors all under the Qumulo name. However, the company earlier this month announced a partnership with Super Micro to sell its software on that vendor’s hardware and now is doing the same with HPE.

This isn’t the first time Qumulo has worked with HPE. The company, in 2019, began offering its software on HPE Apollo 4200 Gen10 servers.

Leaving Hardware Business Behind

The decision early on by company executives to sell Qumulo-branded integrated hardware and software systems was due to their need to ensure a good customer experience, Ben Gitenstein, vice president of products and solutions at Qumulo, told Enterprise Storage Forum.

“That stuff was all standard commodity hardware,” Gitenstein said. “We didn’t bend any sheet metal, but especially when you’re early on as a company and your customer accounts are low, you just really want to be sure everybody has a great experience. We wanted to control the whole thing.”

However, in recent years, there has been a dramatic change in the hardware ecosystem, he said.

“It’s a lot richer, a lot more innovative and filled with a lot more players doing stuff that’s really interesting on standard-issue stuff and we made a bet really early on that said in the data center, we want our software to run on the best of the standard stuff, because it’s really great,” Gitenstein said. “As we’ve gotten to scale, the software is really resilient. We now are really good at knowing what hardware works and what hardware doesn’t and testing and validation. We figured all that stuff out.”

Expanding Partner Ecosystem

The plan going forward is to expand the number of partnerships and the number of systems Qumulo validates to run its software. The company will continue to tell users about the systems and configurations that best run its software and urge customers to gravitate toward that hardware. As a got-to-market strategy, Qumulo executives no longer see the need to sell Qumulo-branded hardware.

This gives enterprises greater freedom in choosing the systems they want to use and helps them avoid being locked into a single vendor, Gitenstein said.

When you take a storage server, you’ve got to start with four of them,” he said. “That makes a cluster and that cluster presents as a namespace, a big, big blob of file to your end users. As you add more servers, it gets bigger and faster. One of the things we did over the last year was we said, ‘Now you can actually start with, for example, four nodes of HPE all-flash [storage] and if you decide you can get a better deal on our new Super Micro all-flash product, you can add a Super Micro all flash node to your HPE cluster and that’s because it’s just a server. They’re both very good and if you think the Supermicro one is better, you should have the choice and ability to add that to your cluster. … All we mandate is that it’s on one of the servers we validated and tested so that we know it’s good.”

In the Data Center and the Cloud

Qumulo has been moving in this direction for a while. Throughout the year the company has announced partnerships with system makers like Fujitsu and cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). In addition, the company in July said it was offering its platform as a service on Microsoft Azure, offering organizations petabyte-scale file data management in the public cloud.

That came a month after company officials said it was delivering its Qumulo File Data Platform as a service via HPE’s GreenLake hybrid cloud services technology.

With the HPE system announced this week, Qumulo and HPE are offering a highly dense all-flash NVMe system that offers 291TB in a small form factor, which is 23 percent more dense than other systems offering an all-NVMe file system.

“That’s valuable to a customer, because if you are interested in all-flash, all-NVMe file, it’s because you have a performance need or because you never want to change or drive as NVMe drives never die or because you have a power constraint, or some customers just say they’re done with disk,” he said. “They don’t ever want to buy disk again for whatever reason. But for those customers, one of the best ways to save money is to pack more density into a server.”

The ProLiant server uses AMD Epyc server processors and includes a 100GB network interface controller (NIC) card. 

A Single Product for Both Environments

A key goal of Qumulo is to offer organizations a single product that can be used either on premises or in the cloud, making it easier to move data and workloads back and forth between the environments.

“One of the realities of being an enterprise is that you don’t know today which of your workloads and which of your data are going to reside in the data center and which will reside in the public cloud,” Gitenstein said. “Prediction is just too hard. … Their world is more unpredictable. They don’t know how the business is going to change or the things they’re going to be asked to do. They don’t know how those are going to change.”

Flexibility is also key. Modern organizations have fewer people managing more things, so flexibility in where to run the workloads (on premises or in the cloud) or with a choice of vendors helps simplify operations. Enterprises will always need to move data back and forth between the cloud and data center and to rapidly embrace the right platform, and no longer have time to manage complex infrastructures or user interfaces, he said.

Large-Scale File System

Qumulo offers a large-scale, multi-protocol file system that can serve Mac, Windows, and Linux users from the same highly scalable namespace. It also can handle high-performance demands and small workloads without having to do a lot of tiering. Organizations can set up a second Qumulo environment and back up or fail over to it, keeping the data secure. The data is encrypted at rest at no additional cost and which doesn’t impact performance and IT staff get deep visibility to see which workloads are consuming capacity or performance.

Gitenstein said Qumulo’s decision to wind down its appliance business doesn’t mean that it’s cutting loose enterprises that have bought the systems over the years.

“From a customer’s experience point of view, we’re not end-of-lifing any products,” he said. “All of that stuff is still available for sale and for expansion and none of that stuff is being end-of-supported or anything like that, but essentially, all of the products that we sell are Qumulo software running on a standard server you buy from a distributor and we have a very curated list of what those standard servers are.”

Jeff Burt
Jeff Burt
Jeffrey Burt has been a journalist for more than three decades, the last 20-plus years covering technology. During more than 16 years with eWEEK, he covered everything from data center infrastructure and collaboration technology to AI, cloud, quantum computing and cybersecurity. A freelance journalist since 2017, his articles have appeared on such sites as eWEEK, The Next Platform, ITPro Today, Channel Futures, Channelnomics, SecurityNow, Data Breach Today, InternetNews and eSecurity Planet.

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