One of the major announcements from VMworld 2014 is that VMware has fully entered the hyper-converged market. VMware and their OEM hardware partners have decided not to leave the high margins of hyper-converged to the handful of appliance vendors on the market. VMware has announced a new hardware strategy that tightly couples several of their software products and OEM hardware into the EVO hyper-converged platform.
The EVO product line comes in two sizes. The first, EVO:Rails is targeted at the mid-market and scales up to 100 VMs. The second is EVO:Rack, which VMware calls Cloud Scale which is meant to indicate any workload above 100 is the target. It’s interesting to note that both platform’s storage is based on VSAN. This means that VMware is putting VSAN to the test.
All VMware stack
VMware has worked to integrate their vSphere hypervisor, VSAN storage solution, LogInsight Manager and network virtualization solution NSX into an easy to deploy platform. Similar to the hypervisor-converged approach where the center of the solution is the hypervisor, VMware’s new EVO platform is tied a VMware stack.
It starts with the hypervisor which is tightly coupled to storage. It’s important to note an architectural difference in storage approaches. VMware’s VSAN is an object-oriented data store. This means that all data from the operating systems to user data is stored in VMDK’s that are replicated between node. This is compared to other solutions that create a Virtual San Appliance (VSA) and creates an NFS based virtual array. The difference is that the VMware EVO approach assumes the primary use case will be vSphere hosted data where the NFS approach can be used for non-vSphere hosted data.
The list of announced partners includes Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, NetOne and SuperMicro. What may be more interesting and an indicator of yet to be announced solutions from other OEM’s are Cisco and HP. Both Cisco and HP are strong server hardware partners with VMware. What also shouldn’t be lost in the announcement is that EMC is one of the OEM partners. This brings a long list of questions to EMC customer and hardware partners that’s material for many more posts.
What does it all mean?
VMware embracing an integrated stack give validation to solutions from Nutanix, Nimboxx, Scale and Simplivity. There’s value in having a highly converged stack that is easy to deploy and scale. Talking to many VMworld conference attendees, there’s plenty of excitement and anticipation around pricing for the EVO platforms. The hope is that the solutions are priced competitively with existing hyper-converged platform providers while getting support from OEM’s that customers already have existing relationships.