An important announcement that came out today was EMC’s launch of Hyper-Converged EVO:RAIL appliance to Redefine Simplicity with hyper converged EVO:RAIL appliances.
With this launch EMC has moved forward further with Converged Infrastructure positioning using differentiating factors like – EMC Value add software, global enterprise data protection, management, and support. It’s not that they didn’t have a converged infrastructure in the past – it used to be the vBlock earlier.
But the Hyper-converged infrastructure appliance is a lot more software defined.
With vBlock the compute and storage was pre-integrated. It offered stablility/predictabliity for specific applications and hardware environments through reference architecture.It was a proven blueprint through VSPEX architecture.
Hyper-converged is really for smaller footprint and the IT generalist. From what I saw in a demo recently it is all about simplicity. I have put together some of my own notes from the demo and it looks like a great product that with comprehensive feature set right at launch time.
The EMC VSPEX Blue is powered by EMC hardware and VMware EVO:RAIL software. Inside the one appliance there are four servers. The architecture has been kept this away to offer agility, scalability and efficient support.
One appliance that has 4 independent nodes inside it.
Each node has dual Intel Ivy bridge processors and 14.4Tb of raw storage – includes both SSD and HDD
(click to view a larger picture)
Two models of the appliance are being released – Standard and Performance.
- The Performance model is for VDI type workloads.
- Difference between Standard and Performance Model is memory.
VSPEX Blue as it is called, has four key components –
for hardware monitoring, integration with EMC Dial Home, and value added EMC software.
automates cluster deployment and config, clean interface, and pre-sized VM templates with single-click policies.
Resilient Cluster architecture
As is the requirement with EVO:RAIL, VSAN provides distributed datastore that is consistent and fault tolerant. vMotion provides system availability during maintenance and DRS balances the workload.
Final component is the Software defined datacenter (SDDC) building block
– combines compute, storage, network, and management resources into a single software stack with vSphere and VSAN.
Connect all 4 nodes in appliance to rack switches. Configure the Top of the rack switch for multicast, IGMP snopping, IGMP Querier. Finally power on VSPEX Blue and access it from browser. So the deployment part has been simplified and follows the ease of use pattern as demonstrated by VMware at VMworld last year. The appliance automatically gets ready from power-on to configuration in under 15 minutes offering agility and time to value for operational reasons.
The automation piece combines more than 200 manual config tasks into a few and streamlines provisioning and administration and improves productivity.
In a recent demo that I attended the Dashboard looked clean. It had ESRS embedded in the interface, management framework was in place to add EMC value-add software, and also orchestration was clearly defined.
One differentiator that I saw and would like to confirm later was that the EMC VSPEX BLUE offers information not available in EVO:RAIL. It also mapped alerts to a graphical representation of the hardware layout which helps with part identification for field services. The appliance was integrated with vRealize log Insight so detailed performance metrics are available.
EMC Customers like myself, who have experience with the ESRS piece like the fact that a remote engineer can dial in to acknowledge a call home and fix the hardware issues or dispatch a CE or parts to fix problems. This reduces a lot of operational overhead in terms of troubleshooting and resource availability.
On the dashboard is an area – Installed Apps and Market that allow you to either display installed software or get access to value add softwrae from EMC like EMC RecoverPoint for VMs, VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDPA) and so on.
On a future looking prospect – the VSPEX BLUE appliance includes EMC CloudArray Virtual Edition license, entitling 1Tb cache and 10Tb cloud storage with support for free. Companies that want a hybrid model and store some data in the cloud for cost benefit or resiliency will definitely find this very useful. Encryption in flight and at-rest with secure local key management is available to address security concerns. For network bandwidth issues, throttling and dat compression is built in. Finally, there is NAS support providing CIFS and NFS file services.
I spoke about value add software being available from EMC earlier. The cool part is VSPEX blue appliance includes EMC RecoverPoint for VMs (which is a rock solid product) license with entitlement for 15VMs and support for free.This software allows you to protect VMs at VM level granularity and is a replacement for SRM with a lot of additional benefits – DVR like functionality for data recovery, async and sync replication, consistency groups, orchestration, WAN compression and de-duplication. The splitter is installed inside of each ESXi node that will host the VMs. The RecoverPoint for VM software works through a virtual appliance and they don’t need to reside on the same ESXi node or cluster as the protected VMs which is an advantage for some environments.
There is also no requirement that the virtual appliance be installed on each ESXi node with the protected VMs.
As an existing RecoverPoint customer of EMC I have seen synchronous replication work great over distances. WAN optimization helps tremendously and offers built in deduplication and compression functionality. The replication robustness is suited for environments utp to 300ms of latency so that addresses a lot of environments and geographical distances.
I don’t know much about pricing but the demo seemed really good and pricing was mentioned as highly competitive. So you may want to check with the local EMC sales team to get a budgtary quote. I personally like to understand ball park pricing of various products from different vendors so that during architecture of the environment there is atleast some level of understand if a solution will fit within the planned cost.
Finally, a note on licensing – The VSPEX Blue is available as a single sku so it makes for easy ordering. Appliance software includes – VMware EVO:RAIL software bundle, management, ESRS, RecoverPoint for VMs – 15 VMs, and Cloud extension.
I am hoping to get access somewhere down the road to an EMC lab to try this out. For your own learning benefit you can head over to ECN or EMC’s website to get more information.