EVO:RAIL is dead long live VxRail

On paper EVO:RAIL was a great idea – VMware provides the Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) software (vSphere and Virtual SAN) and the major server and storage vendors provide the hardware, but one of the biggest problems was that it was 100% designed by VMware therefore how could the likes of EMC, NetApp, Dell, HP, HDS, etc. innovate? The answer of course was they couldn’t and the product was therefore not a great success  – something therefore had to change. The good news is that EVO:RAIL has become VxRail and it will be sold exclusively by VCE (a VMware and EMC company). Also with EVO:RAIL there was a very limited choice of hardware, you had to start with four nodes, scale in four node increments and use vSphere Continue reading

Are VMware VSAN, VVOLs and EVO:RAIL Software-Defined Storage and does it really matter?

Most IT vendors like to jump on the “latest bandwagon” to showcase their solutions, they then use key IT buzzwords to highlight their product as being cutting-edge. One of the most prevalent in today’s technology world is Software-Defined, but there is significant ambiguity with regard to exactly what it means. So what is my definition of a Software-Defined solution? You purchase software and hardware independently, more often than not from different vendors, and most importantly you can change the hardware without incurring additional licence fees – examples include VMware vSphere, Veeam Backup and Replication, and CommVault Simpana. So what is my definition of a non-Software-Defined solution? You purchase a hardware appliance that combines software and hardware into a single solution (you cannot move the Continue reading

VMware changes EVO:RAIL licensing but still gets it all wrong

My view on EVO:RAIL has always been that it is a nice piece of technology, but it is way too expensive with a deeply flawed licensing model (more thoughts at VMware EVO:RAIL or VSAN – which makes the most sense?). It has just been “improved” because you can now use existing vSphere licenses which will dramatically reduce the cost of the appliance (more details here). Even though VMware had a great chance to really make things so much better they have wasted the opportunity – amazingly they are still forcing you to use Enterprise Plus whereas Essentials Plus would be more appropriate in most cases. It is also not clear if the vSphere licences can be moved, or if Virtual SAN and Log Insight Continue reading

What’s next for Storage in 2015?

The storage market has changed significantly over the last few years, whereas 5 years ago the industry was dominated by six players (EMC, NetApp, HDS, HP, IBM and Dell) supplying solutions using only HDDs, today solutions are designed using a hybrid of SSDs and HDDs, and there is far more choice with a number of start-ups entering the market (i.e. Pure, Nimble, Tintri and Tegile). What is clear to me is that the days of storage arrays being mysterious, complex and therefore expensive to deploy and maintain are over – customers want simplicity so that a dedicated storage expert is not required. Gartner wrote an interesting article on the subject which is available at Predicts 2015: Midmarket CIOs Must Shed IT Debt to Invest Continue reading

How can VMware provide more value to its customers in 2015?

Competition is essential as it ensures that vendors focus on the value proposition of their products, the good news for the hypervisor market is that it is now very competitive with Hyper-V, KVM and XenServer challenging the market leader – vSphere. As VMware is put under pressure from its competitors it tends to respond in one of two ways: Increase the technology lead between its products and the competitors through innovation Increase the value of its products by bringing high-end features down to lower editions An example of the latter happened when Hyper-V 3.0 was released and VMware responded by adding features like vMotion and Storage vMotion to vSphere Standard. So what can VMware do to provide more value to Continue reading

VMware EVO:RAIL or VSAN – which makes the most sense?

I really like what VMware is doing with their Software-Defined Data Centre strategy – the idea of allowing customers to use commoditised low cost compute, storage and networking hardware for their infrastructure has got to be a good thing – we are on the verge of hopefully making IT both much simpler and cheaper. What I am not so sure about is EVO:RAIL, I get VSAN (see An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology and What are the pros and cons of Software-Defined Storage?), but does EVO:RAIL actually make sense? There are some advantages – it is easy to order, as it is a fixed configuration and it is easy to deploy, just plug-in, power-on and go. But compared to VSAN Continue reading

An introduction to VMware Virtual SAN Software-Defined Storage technology

Over the past decade VMware has changed the way IT is provisioned through the use of Virtual Machines, but if we want a truly Software-Defined Data Centre we also need to virtualise the storage and the network. For storage virtualisation VMware has introduced Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes (expected to be available in 2015), and for network virtualisation NSX. In this, the first of a three part series, we will take a look at Virtual SAN (VSAN). So why VSAN? Large Data Centres, built by the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook, utilise commodity compute, storage and networking hardware (that scale-out rather than scale-up) and a proprietary software layer to massively drive down costs. The economics of IT hardware tend to be the inverse of Continue reading

What are the pros and cons of Software-Defined Storage?

Software-defined storage (SDS) is becoming a topic of interest to many organisations, but like all new technologies there are pros and cons compared to the existing solutions. So for me the benefits of SDS are: Bring your own hardware – take advantage of commodity prices Built-in “IT Deflation” – keep up with the increased demand for storage Hardware independent – lives on beyond the life of the hardware Flexibility to scale – as much or as little as required Low ongoing costs – perpetual license followed by annual maintenance Gain new features – just by upgrading the software Simplified management – compute and storage managed together What do we mean by “IT Deflation”? Essentially year on year you can get more Continue reading