Meet VMware EVO:RAIL – A New Building Block for your SDDC

By Duncan Epping, Chief Technologist, VMware

In March of 2013, a new project was started within VMware. A small team known as MARVIN within the SDDC Division’s Emerging Solutions Group was tasked with building something completely new, to enter a market where VMware had never gone before, to do something that would surprise many. The team was given the freedom to operate somewhat like a startup within VMware; run fast and hard, prototype, iterate, and pivot when needed, with the goal of delivering a game-changing product offering by VMworld 2014. Today I have the pleasure to introduce you and the rest of the virtualization world to VMware EVO:RAIL™.

EVO:RAIL – What’s in a name?

VMW-LOGO-EVO-Rail-108EVO represents a new family of ‘Evolutionary’ Hyper-Converged Infrastructure offerings from VMware. RAIL represents the first product within the EVO family that will ship during the second half of 2014. More on the meaning of RAIL towards the end of my post.

The Speculation is finally over!

Over the past 6-plus months there was a lot of speculation over Project Mystic and Project MARVIN. Well the speculation is finally over with the announcement of EVO:RAIL. 

What is VMware EVO:RAIL?

Simply put, EVO:RAIL is a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCIA) offering by VMware and qualified EVO:RAIL partners. Partners  include Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, NetOne and SuperMicro. This impressive list of partners will ensure EVO:RAIL has a global market reach from day one, as well as the assurance of world class customer support and services these partners are capable of providing. For those who are not familiar with Hyper-Converged Infrastructure offerings: they typically combine compute, network and storage resources into a single unit of deployment. In the case of EVO:RAIL, this is a 2U/4-Node unit, where each node is an independent physical server within the 2U enclosure.

What is the value add for the EVO:RAIL customer?

In our opinion, EVO:RAIL has a couple of major advantages over traditional infrastructure that customers are looking to take advantage of:

  • Software-Defined
  • Simplicity
  • Highly Resilient
  • Customer Choice

Software-Defined

EVO:RAIL is a scalable Software-Defined Infrastructure building block that delivers compute, networking, storage, and management to empower end-user computing, remote office and branch office environments, and small virtual private clouds. The EVO:RAIL engine that is responsible for deployment, configuration and management activities builds on the proven technology of VMware vSphere®, vCenter Server™, and VMware Virtual SAN™. EVO:RAIL delivers the first HCIA that is 100% powered by VMware software.

Simplicity Transformed

EVO:RAIL enables time to value to first VM in minutes once racked, cabled and powered on. Virtual Machine creation, radically simplified via the EVO:RAIL management user interface, along with basic VM operations, non-disruptive patch and upgrades, and simplified intuitive HCIA scale-out.

Highly Resilient by Design

A highly resilient HCIA design starting with four independent server nodes within a 2U footprint from our qualified EVO:RAIL partners. Each node is running vSphere and Virtual SAN, configured as a single vSphere cluster with a single distributed Virtual SAN datastore; add into the mix VMotion, HA and DRS for additional resiliency, you now have all the key ingredients to facilitate zero VM downtime during planned maintenance or during disk, or a host failure.

Customer Choice

EVO:RAIL is delivered as a fully integrated HCIA offering via a single SKU to the customer. There are two important things to note:

  • EVO:RAIL is not a reference architecture
  • A customer cannot purchase the EVO:RAIL software standalone and attempt to build their own HCIA on an EVO:RAIL Partners qualified and optimized hardware or non qualified server hardware

The EVO:RAIL HCIA includes the qualified and optimized 2U/4-Node server platform, the EVO:RAIL software integrated onto the server platform, and support for both the hardware and software through the qualified EVO:RAIL partners. Customers select an EVO:RAIL HCIA from their preferred EVO:RAIL partner. This means a single point of contact during the buying cycle, and a single point of contact for support.

So what will each HCIA provide you with in terms of hardware resources? Each EVO:RAIL HCIA has four independent server nodes with dedicated computer, network, and storage resources, backed by dual redundant power supplies.

Each of the four EVO:RAIL nodes have (at a minimum):

  • Two Intel E5-2620 v2 six-core CPUs
  • 192GB of memory
  • One SLC SATADOM or SAS HDD as the ESXi™ boot device
  • Three SAS 10K RPM 1.2TB HDD for the VMware Virtual SAN™ datastore
  • One 400GB MLC enterprise-grade SSD for read/write cache
  • One Virtual SAN-certified pass-through disk controller
  • Two 10GbE NIC ports (configured for either 10GBase-T or SFP+ connections)
  • One 1GbE IPMI port for remote (out-of-band) management

All of this leads to an EVO:RAIL HCIA with a combined total of at least 100GHz CPU resources, 768GB of memory resources, 14.4TB  of storage capacity and 1.6TB of flash capacity (storage acceleration services).

For those of you who read this far and are still wondering why RAIL, and is it an acronym, the short answer is “No, not an acronym”. The RAIL in EVO:RAIL simply represent the ‘rail mount’ attached to 2U/4-node server platform that allows it to slide easily into a datacenter rack. One RAIL for one EVO:RAIL HCIA, which represents the smallest unit measure with respect to compute, network, storage and management within the EVO product family.

Interested in learning more about what next from the VMware EVO team?  Go here to read about a Technology Preview of EVO: RACK, a hyper-converged infrastructure project.

By now you are all probably very anxious to see EVO:RAIL in action. Before you get to see it, one more thing that you should know about EVO:RAIL… the user interface uses HTML-5! So it works on any device, nice right!

Learn more about VMware EVO:RAIL by visiting:

www.vmware.com/products/evorail and be sure to checkout the amazing product videos.