VMware has a couple of new toys to show off in hyperconverged infrastructure. On the software side, there’s a new virtual storage area networking release and a marketing push being unveiled today.
And in hardware, VMware and parent company EMC appear to be cooking up a new product called VxRail. It’s the likely subject of this Feb. 16 announcement that EMC is telling the world to get excited about.
The Virtual SAN 6.2 software is aimed at making all-flash storage less expensive, partially with the intention of encouraging enterprises to move toward hybrid deployments mixing flash and disk drives.
“In this converged infrastructure space, we’ve obfuscated ourselves as much as we can. We really have,” says Skip Bacon, VMware’s vice president of storage.
But it’s also a chance for VMware to spell out a hyperconverged infrastructure strategy combining Virtual SAN with vSphere and vCenter. “Customers are proving to us this is viable for the mainstream of storage,” Bacon says.
Beyond the tie to all-flash storage, new features in Virtual SAN 6.2 include deduplication and compression that are assigned per disk group, a feature VMware is calling “space efficiency.” And, of course, the software is tailored to work well with vSphere virtual machines.
But it well may be that the bigger part of today’s announcement is about partners’ hardware — what VMware calls Virtual SAN Ready Nodes.
Fujitsu and Supermicro are being announced today as two such partners. Bacon notes that Dell will provide Ready Nodes as well. Dell wasn’t mentioned in the advance version of the press release, but it makes sense, considering Dell is spending $67 billion to get to know EMC and VMware better.
Another hardware option would be VMware’s own EVO:RAIL and EVO:SDDC. Both are converged-infrastructure designs that are meant to be built by partners, including VCE, which is minority-owned by Cisco but has been fully absorbed into EMC.
That brings us to this VxRail thing. As The Register noted recently, the above-mentioned EMC teaser coincided with a VMware job ad in January seeking an engineer to work on something called VxRail. VCE has also trademarked the term, the publication notes. (Bacon acknowledged the Feb. 16 announcement but declined to comment further.)
VCE already offers VxRack, which is based on EVO:SDDC. EVO:SDDC was originally named EVO:RACK, so it seems plausible that VxRail, assuming it’s going to become real, would be an analogue to EVO:RAIL.
EVO:SDDC is a hyperconverged infrastructure package that targets cloud-scale deployments. EVO:RAIL is physically smaller, providing a bite-sized chunk of hyperconverged infrastructure that could be suitable for the enterprise.
EVO:RAIL shipped first and is the one that has the more ambitious marketing target, bringing hyperconverged infrastructure into markets that aren’t hyperscale. That’s a “hyperscale for the masses” approach that we’ve seen from companies such as Big Switch Networks, the idea being to convert data center ideas from the likes of Google into a form that the enterprise can take advantage of.
If the Dell/EMC deal comes to pass, VxRail would seem to overlap Dell’s partnership with Nutanix, the hyperconverged infrastructure startup. Dell has a similiar overlap in Linux software for network switches, offering its own OS10, as well as Cumulus Networks and Big Switch software. It seems the company wants to become a clearinghouse for data center options.