VCE and VMware take aim at hyperconvergence startups with VxRail appliance

vxrail image vce
Image: VCE

EMC’s converged infrastructure arm, VCE, has unveiled its range of VxRail appliances to rival fast-growing startups such as Nutanix and Simplivity in the market for hyper converged infrastructure.

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The VxRail appliances, which run on commoditised hardware, feature tight integration with VMware’s software including Virtual SAN, vSphere vCenter management.

Like other hyper converged platforms, VCE promises simplified management, easier scalability and lower cost in comparison to traditional server and storage infrastructure. 

According to VCE’s EMEA CTO, Nigel Moulton, VxRail will allow larger enterprises to deploy the appliances as part of a private cloud environment.

“The opportunity for the enterprise is to extend the whole software defined data centre out into a remote or branch office. You are looking at the ability to run specific workloads such as VDI, and the ability to take standardised sets of components and deploy them across an organisation," he told ComputerworldUK.

“This could be remote offices, branch offices or remote geographies where the cost of WAN bandwidth [is expensive] or might not even exist at all.”

Meanwhile, he said, smaller and mid-sized firms run core workloads that can be scaled to suit demand. "VxRail - and maybe multiple appliances together - could be somebody’s data centre…the footprint is very small, and the cost point is more typical in that space.”

It is not EMC’s first foray into hyperconverged infrastructure. VCE’s parent company EMC launched a similar appliance product, VSPEX Blue, last year, running VMware’s EVO:RAIL software - a platform that VMware has since indicated it could edge out in favour of a VSAN-based stack.

Moulton says that VxRail differs from VSPEX - which was very “much partner manufactured” - in that it is pre-engineered and has fewer options around hardware vendors. In terms of server hardware this means opting for Taiwanese firm Quanta.

“The number of hardware vendors has been dramatically reduced because that gives us the opportunity to put out a repeatable standard for deploying these rail appliances in the field,” Moulton told Computerworld UK.

The range of products are also “uniquely VMware across the stack”.

Though the VxRail ‘plug-in’ appliance can be scaled it differs from VCE’s VxRack hyperconverged systems, which are targeted at web-scale cloud native applications and are managed with a top of rack switch.

The VxRail range will feature all-flash and hybrid HDD storage from a range of EMC-endorsed vendors, with a range of memory, storage and network configurations also offered.

Molten declined to say whether VCE will use equipment from Dell, which is still in the process of acquiring EMC, for its hyper converged products in future. Dell has a partnership with one of the fastest growing hyperconverged infrastructure firms - Nutanix - with its XC converged appliance based Dell’s PowerEdge servers.

Moulton said that VxRail differs from other hyper converged systems in terms of ease of management.

“What you tend to find with other vendors is that they fall into the trap of having to manage the hypervisor separately to some of the underlying hardware. The beauty of VxRail is that, because we integrate VMware from top to bottom, you don't have to do that - you just use the one stack to manage everything,” he said.

“So that is one set of training courses, one set of things to learn. And if you are an existing VMware ELA user, you might well be able to leverage your VMware ELA to extend that capability further out because you have got an enterprise licence agreement already.”

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