Project Mystic's Potential Competitors To VMware: Bring It On


Developers of hyper-converged infrastructure technology are not yet ready to respond directly to the potential threats posed by a hush-hush competing technology being developed by VMware and its parent company EMC, but for now say they like the visibility that VMware brings to their part of the IT industry.

As first reported by CRN, VMware and EMC are teaming up to develop "Project Mystic," an EMC-branded converged infrastructure appliance based on software VMware is developing that could be integrated by distributors on industry-standard server hardware.

Converged infrastructure combines server, storage, networking and virtualization technologies from multiple vendors in such a way that they can be managed as if it were a single appliance.

[Related: EMC And Cisco: Coopetition Gone Wild In An Industry Used To Disruption]

The best-known converged infrastructure offerings to date are those from multiple vendors, including vBlock solutions from VCE, which is a joint venture of EMC and Cisco with investment from VMware and Intel; VSPEX, which is a reference architecture based in large part on experience from VCE; and the FlexPod reference architecture from NetApp and Cisco.

Other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell and Oracle, have converged infrastructure offerings based almost exclusively on their own technologies.

Project Mystic's biggest potential target, however, could be the market held by developers of hyper-converged infrastructure technology, which differs from converged infrastructure in that the server, storage, networking and virtualization technology is all software-defined rather than coming from separate hardware components.

Those hyper-converged infrastructure developers include companies like SimpliVity, Nutanix, Scale Computing and Pivot3, all of which combine their software with an industry-standard server as an integrated appliance. Also included are companies like Maxta and Nexenta, which offer software that can be installed on top of an industry-standard server to offer the same capabilities.

Project Mystic appears to be a big part of VMware's software-defined-everything strategy, said Jamie Shepard, regional and health systems senior vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and partner to both EMC and VMware.

Such a solution would likely include a wide range of VMware technologies, including the company's NSX software-defined networking technology from its Nicira acquisition, its VSAN virtualized storage offering and performance monitoring, Shepard said.

"It's an everything play," he said.

Project Mystic should most likely end up being a solution  that includes the VMware software running on commercial hardware nodes or bricks, Shepard said, with the emphasis on the software. "It's similar to what SimpliVity and Nutanix are doing," he said. "Only instead of the hardware, VMware is focused on the software."

NEXT: Project Mystic Makes Sense For VMware