It\u2019s been a busy hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) week for Cisco. Yesterday it announced its intent to acquire secure HCI vendor, Skyport Systems. Today it announced HyperFlex 3.0, which is the biggest update Cisco has had to the product since it introduced the product years ago. Cisco\u2019s driving vision is a business that can run any workload on any cloud that can easily scale up as required. This latest release is entirely dedicated to fulfilling that vision.\nThe cloud is the future, and the majority of businesses will adopt hybrid clouds. In announcing HyperFlex 3.0, Cisco cited an IDC data point that states that 87 percent of businesses are using or plan to use a hybrid environment, and 94 percent plan to use multiple clouds \u2014 meaning that hybrid, multi-clouds will be the norm.\nBarriers remain on the path to hybrid, multi-cloud\nThis poses some roadblocks to achieving the \u201cany cloud, any workload, any scale\u201d vision, most notably there\u2019s no single flavor of cloud, leading to a lack of uniformity. There are different hypervisors, applications, operating systems and performance requirements. To meet these requirements, businesses have turned to HCI, which is why it\u2019s been one of the fastest growing infrastructure markets over the past five years. And I certainly don\u2019t expect that to change over the next five.\n\nCisco was somewhat of a latecomer to the HCI industry but took a bit of a different approach, allowing it to catch up and pass many of its competitors. As I pointed out in my Skyport post, most of the HCI vendors focus only on software whereas Cisco\u2019s strategy has been to build a solution that leverages the strengths of hardware and software. This approach is nothing new for Cisco, as almost all of its products are architected to optimize hardware and software.\nThe results for Cisco have been more than positive, as there are more than 2,400 HyperFlex customers. One of the more surprising data points from Cisco is that 30 percent of buyers of HyperFlex are not Unified Computing System (UCS) customers. I would have expected that almost all its HyperFlex business would be from the install base of companies that are comfortable buying a compute platform from Cisco. The fact it isn\u2019t that way shows the quality of the product.\nNew HyperFlex features close the operational and technology gap\nThe HyperFlex 3.0 software release brings a massive number of new features that improve data center operations in a hybrid, multi-cloud world. Details are as follows:\nApplications\n\nMulti-hypervisor support. Since its inception, HyperFlex has supported VMWare\u2019s ESXi hypervisor. With this release, Cisco has added support for Microsoft Hyper-V.\u00a0 VMWare remains the dominant hypervisor vendors, but Hyper-V is widely deployed, particularly for Microsoft apps.\nContainers volume driver. The product now includes a FlexVolume driver to enable persistent volumes to Kubernetes-managed containers, enabling developers to create and deploy cloud-native apps on the platform.\nEnterprise application validations. To help customers cut deployment times, Cisco has created several validated deployment guides for specific applications.\u00a0 It\u2019s had them for virtual server infrastructure (VSI) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for some time, but it has created a number of new guides for many of the major enterprise applications, such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Splunk.\n\nClouds \n\nPerformance monitoring. Cisco\u2019s AppDynamics for HyperFlex enables IT professionals to monitor the performance of hybrid applications running on HyperFlex across public and private clouds. This provides a \u201csingle pane of glass\u201d to understand user performance across the entire cloud environment.\nApplication placement. Cisco\u2019s Workload Optimization Manager (CWOM) for HyperFlex provides analysis of how workloads will perform on different types infrastructure. This ensures that customers make the best choice as to where it runs workloads.\nCloud mobility. CloudCenter for HyperFlex enables workloads to easily be moved between public and private clouds. \u00a0\nSelf-service capabilities. CloudCenter for HyperFlex also enables self-service features for IaaS, so developers and administrators can provision infrastructure or make changes without requiring IT support. \u00a0\u00a0\n\nScalability \n\nIncreased scale and resiliency. One of the benefits of the optimized hardware and software approach is outstanding VM density. Customers can increase the number of VMs by clustering multiple HyperFlex systems together. Cisco has increased the number of nodes from eight to 64, creating a massive system.\nStretch clusters. For businesses that have data protection and\/or resiliency requirements, clustering may not be sufficient. Cisco is introducing something called stretch clusters where the cluster can be \u201cstretched\u201d across geographic distances.\nCloud-based deployment. Cisco\u2019s IT operations management tool, Intersight, now has HyperFlex Connect integrated into it. Intersight gives customers a global view of the environment and then they can drill down into individual clusters with Connect. Businesses will benefit with simplified deployment and remote management capabilities.\n\n Cisco\nHyperFlex 3.0 licenses\nAlso as part of version 3.0, Cisco has modified the licensing model for HyperFlex.\u00a0 Historically, there was a single pricing tier for the product. Cisco now considers that its base pricing model and has added two new ones. For customers that need many of the advanced features, there is now an Enterprise Plus pricing tier above the base tier.\u00a0 If the HCI platform is used in a remote location or a branch office, it likely doesn't need many of the features in the base tier. For those locations, Cisco has introduced an Edge pricing tier below base.\u00a0\nBusinesses are becoming increasingly dynamic and distributed, pushing them towards hybrid, multi-cloud environments. HyperFlex 3.0 adds several new features that let businesses migrate to this model but still maintain the visibility, application performance and scalability required to not put the business at risk.