Scale Computing takes HCI to the thin edge

Last week Scale Computing launched a cigarette box-sized HCI edge appliance, the HE 150. You can read our story on HE 150 specs and availability here. In this article we cover the company’s rationale for launching the industry’s first thin edge HCI appliance.

Fat edge systems are IT systems outside the core data centre but still require IT staff. Thin edge systems have fewer or no IT staff and range from remote and branch offices to kiosks and telegraph pole installations. 

Scale co-founder Scott Loughmiller said: “Scale is hyper-focused on the edge and can manage 1,000 site edge computing deployments.”

Scale co-founder Scott Loughmiller

In a press briefing in San Francisco last week, he said thin edge locations often have several computer systems running retail tills, video surveillance and various control systems. Each system has separate management and support services, and the site may require a staff member to become a part-time IT person.

Loughmiller said; “Edge sites have no IT staff and often up to eight specific IT silo systems. Scale shrinks footprint and eases management … bringing high-availability and remote management and security to remote sites and replacing the part-time IT person.”

Pre-production HE150 with iPhone 6 for size comparison.

With the HE 150, Scale has designed a product that doesn’t need a server closet, networking switch or air conditioning. In many ways it’s a classic embedded system which runs classic X86 software and is customisable, so that it can manage other computer-based systems at the edge sites and become an all-in-one box. 

Out of the HCI trenches

Scale’s entry into thin-edge computing gives the company a foothold in virgin HCI territory, far from the madding crowd of vendors jockeying for position below the dominant players VMware and Nutanix

The general hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) market suppliers focuses on enterprise data centres and smaller sites where there is a compute closet and, generally, an IT person.

With Dell EMC/VMware and Nutanix supplying over half the HCI market and growing, other vendors are duking it out for leftovers. Competition is intense, with Cisco, DataCore, Datrium, HPE, NetApp, Pivot3 and Scale battling for revenues.

Scale Computing pulled in a $34.8m funding round late last year. The intended move into thin edge computing systems presumably excited the VCs enough to cough up the cash.