Project MARVIN morphs into VMware EVO: RAIL – VMworld updates

EVO: RAIL?? Really…. Ok, someone really needs to fire the marketing guys!! =P

VMware EVO: RAIL announced.

In a nutshell, VMware and ‘a-n-other’ partner to produce a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance.
As I previously mentioned VMware are NOT going to start manufacturing and shifting tin!

So far the partners listed are Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net One and Supermicro – these partners will be offering the ‘physical’ hardware for the appliance (a 2U-4 nodes hardware platform) with possibly the following specs:

  • 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

VMware will be pairing the physical appliance with vSphere, vSAN, vCenter Log Insight and a new product called the EVO:RAIL engine.

VMware whitepaper: Introduction to VMware EVO: RAIL

This new appliance is supposed to be super-simple to configure and manage. Scalable to 16 nodes with new nodes automatically discovered when integrated into the rig. It even hooks up to vCloud Air (vCHS) to allow end-users the ability to utilise a hybrid approach to their environment!

Target audience – mid-market and branch office environments.

As you can imagine, EMC are not really a server manufacturer – nor are they looking at starting to produce servers…… according to Chad Sakac they could be throwing in the Phoenix platform into the EVO: RAIL appliance.

Availability has been punted as being the “second half of 2014”, but given we’re halfway through Q3 already, I doubt we’ll see anything till Nov/Dec time or even Q1 2015!

For more information, pop along to the VMware blogs of Duncan Epping (he of the awesome Yellow Bricks blog) and Chris Wolf (CTO):

And in case you’re wondering, (according to Duncan) the EVO represents a new family of “Evolutionary” Hyper-Converged Infrastructure offerings from VMware, and RAIL represents the “rail mount” attached to the 2U/4-node server platform. One RAIL represents the smallest unit of compute/network/storage that you can purchase within the EVO family.

Other significant news to filter out of the 1st day of VMworld:

  • VMware looks like it’s jumping on the OpenStack bandwagon by releasing it’s own version called VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIOS).
  • VMware releasing vRealize Suite which will be a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) that essentially helps you manage and deploy applications across your cloud platform (private, hybrid, public). They will be rebranding vCAC to vRealize Automation, vCOPs to vRealize Operations and ITBM to vRealize Business.
    VMware rebrands vCloud Hybrid Service as vCloud Air and announces a larger uptake of the product (and greater coverage across the globe)

As always, Derek Seaman’s blog has a great rundown of the keynote and 1st day…..

VMworld 2014 – what I’d like to see…….

So with VMworld 2014 kicking off in the US this weekend, I thought it fitting to blog about what I would love to hear coming out of San Francisco.

VMware have always been tight-lipped regarding what they will be announcing! However, there’s always just enough that can be found online to allow you to make an educated guess at what could be coming. (Plus the content-catalog for VMworld obviously helps you find out what will be on show!)

Please note that none of this is official and I am only speculating what could be coming up at VMworld 2014, so don’t hold me to it! =)


vSphere 6.0

I don’t remember VMware releasing previous versions of vSphere or VI into a public beta, but then again I didn’t really pay much attention to beta programs in the past. However, on June 30th this year they did just that and launched the vSphere Beta Program allowing “Joe Public” to sign up and download the vSphere 6.0 beta.

Like the tick-tock model employed at Intel, VMware have always announced a major release every 2 years, with minor releases in between…..
vSphere 4.0 – 2009
vSphere 4.1 – 2010
vSphere 5.0 – 2011
vSphere 5.1 – 2012
vSphere 5.5 – 2013
vSphere 6.0 – 2014 ?!?!?

So could we be seeing a big announcement about vSphere 6.0 later this month?!?

Unfortunately I’m bound by the Beta NDA, so I’m not allowed to blog about any new features in vSphere 6.0…. Sorry……. =(

However, if you wish to join the public beta then pop along to:


Project Marvin

No VMware are not building an android with a paranoid complex, and no they are not stating that the answer to life’s ultimate question is 42. Rather, it has been vastly rumoured that VMware are in fact in the mix to producing their own take on ‘(hyper) converged infrastructure’.
I really doubt that VMware are going to start manufacturing and shifting tin, it’s more likely that they will repackage their hypervisor and other products (eg. vSAN, NSX) which an OEM partner (like Dell, HP or Cisco) can simply drop onto their servers to form a virtual node – like some sort of new virtual appliance software which you deploy on bare-metal nodes that provides the hypervisor, the storage and the networking in one simple stack, and possibly scalable by adding in more nodes…….! Maybe it will even be managed by vCAC and plug into vCHS…. Who knows….?!?
All I know is EMC are also rumoured to be working on a project called “Mystic” which is supposed to complement Marvin! So are EMC going to be manufacturing the hardware that Marvin runs on? The Mystical Marvin Experience?!?

A potential competitor to Nutanix? Hmm….. Not sure….. I also don’t see it as a competitor for NetApp’s FlexPod, EMC’s vSPEX or VCE’s vBlock.


New version of VSAN?

VMware acquired a company called Virsto back in 2013 – Virsto was a company that produced a storage-centric hypervisor, in other words they had a “software-defined storage” solution!

In a nutshell, Virsto enhanced the use of external SANs by accelerating performance by intercepting the random I/O at the hypervisor level and writing them into a ‘buffer’ in sequential format which is then written onto the SAN (as we all know, block storage performs better with sequential I/O).

However, at the start of the year VMware announced the End of Availability for all of the VMware Virsto product line.

I don’t know what a new version of VSAN would look like, but I wouldn’t bet against VMware rolling in all the goodness of Virsto into their VSAN offering, one thing VSAN doesn’t do is this serialisation of Random I/O, so maybe that’s a good place to start!


Virtual Volumes – VVols

This has been on the cards since 2011….. I remember reading Cormac Hogan’s tech preview post for VMworld 2012.

So what is VVols? VVols is all about working at the VMDK level…. Instead of presenting LUNs from a storage array, you are offered more granularity with provisioning VMDK files to a virtual machine. This means that for each vDisk, policies can be set – like if the vDisk requires replication, snapshots, thin provisioning and maybe some sort of QoS. All of which could be offloaded onto the storage array to process because of the Storage APIs that integrate the array with vSphere.
At the moment all snapshots, cloning, replication technologies on a storage array is LUN or Volume based, and VVols offers a more granular approach.

Check out VMware’s blog about VVols here…. there are lots of videos from storage vendors explaining how they are approaching VVols.


Enhancements to all things SDDC/vCHS/NSX?

vCAC has gained more traction in the market and with vCD potentially going EoA (for end users, not service providers), are we going to see the convergence that VMware promised last year between vSphere and vCAC? (see my previous blog post:

Automation is definitely the key to ITaaS, and some people have complained that VMware stripped out some of the cool functionalities of DynamicOps when they acquired the company back in 2012. With the likes of EMC writing workflows for vCAC for their storage and data protection portfolios (ViPR, Data Domain and Avamar), expect to see many other vendors follow suit! In fact EMC have been busy punting their own EMC Hybrid Cloud to customers!

Also expect to hear more announcements of data centres around the globe that now form part for vCHS!

As for NSX, it was made publicly available at the start of July for download from VMware’s website (v6.0.5), which probably means that a number of large enterprises have already started to deploy the product. I still think SDN and SDS are in their infancy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if VMware announced some sort of evolution of NSX in order to show that it is a viable product for end-user data centres.
It’ll be interesting to see whether there’ll be any mention of ACI at Cisco’s exhibitor stand! =)


Update on the AirWatch integration with Horizon Suite

Much has been said about VMware’s acquisition of AirWatch, however not much has been said about how it will be deployed alongside the Horizon Suite or its integration process.
VMware obviously acquired AirWatch to plug the MDM hole in its desktop virtualisation offerings, they were playing catch up with Citrix for so long that they focused too much on the VDI aspects – and with end users deciding they want access to their workspace on their smartphones, VMware obviously had to ‘buy’ someone or risk being left further behind by Citrix (who acquired Zenprise years ago for its XenMobile platform).
I expect to see announcements or at least a roadmap regarding AirWatch and Horizon!


So, that’s about it from me….. With my trip to VMworld 2014 Barcelona 2 months away, I’ll be eagerly waiting to see what comes out of San Fran next week!