Tuesday, 26 August 2014

VMware enters the Hyper-Converged space with VMware EVO.

In a move that justifies (if that's the right word) the developments made by Nutanix, Simplivity et al, VMware announced two releases of their Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance (HCIA) products, which are called VMware EVO. This is the Project Marvin initiative which has been whispered about for a while since an internal VMware poster was seen up on a wall by someone who shouldn't have seen it! The EVO part means Evolution and the product names RAIL and RACK are down to the amount of space they take up in the datacentre. Rail for the fact it goes in on one set of rails and rack, well, it's in a rack.

EVO:RAIL is a 2U/4Node unit, with each node running vSphere and VSAN and functioning overall as a vSphere Cluster. There is a specification available to partners, who have to build hardware to support at least this standard. These partners include Dell, SuperMicro, EMC and Fujitsu, who most people will know, plus Inspur from China and NetOne from Japan. interestingly, no HP on this list, which is what has raised most eyebrows to this point. Definitely a smart move to leave the hardware to the hardware guys, but since VMware EMEA CTO Joe Baguley has said that if something needs specific hardware then you cannot call it "software defined" then is this really a building block of the Software Defined DataCentre? Well, maybe this is actually Software Defined Hardware (SDH)? Hahaha, you heard it here first.

The configuration of EVO:RAIL appears extremely simple. It's also an HTML5 interface, so you can administer it from pretty much anything. Setup only takes 15 minutes, which is impressive. This gives you a fully prepared VCenter, 4 hosts in a cluster and standard switches, with your VLANs etc. in place. Additionally, you can add up to 3 more units to the first one, with them being detected by VMware Loudmouth (think Apples bonjour service) so expanding your setup is easy too. So far so good.

Who better to go over the details of this than Duncan Epping, VMware's Chief Technologist.


EVO:RACK is a much bigger beast, with full vCloud Suite and NSX built in, again, with its own management built in too. EVO:RACK can also scale up to tens of racks it seems, so that is pretty much your entire datacentre covered. Clearly targeted at more enterprise level operations, IaaS and VDI use cases are to be addressed first, with more to follow, such as PaaS and big data. The deployment model here is to have a rack implemented in under 2 hours from being pushed into the data hall to running workloads. Rack-n-Roll they say. Geddit?

See what Raj Yavatkar has to say on this, on the VMware Office of the CTO blog.


So, I briefly mentioned 2 established vendors in this space at the start, briefly by design. I don't think they'll be overly worried at this point, especially not when you look in to this and see that they're some way ahead, feature wise. For instance, there's no dedupe in VSAN at this point and that is a key factor for someone like me at the moment. Simplivity is built on the fact that data is never written to the storage twice (well, other than the fact it's written to 2 different Simplivity devices at the same time) but then after that it's just metadata that gets written when duplicate blocks are sent to disk. That's likely to be pretty important if you are looking at spinning up a whole bunch of relatively identical workloads or are dealing with large databases etc. Then again, if you get EVO:RAIL then you get a 2u solution with 14TB of storage, that could well be enough!

Of course, if you have a well established relationship with Dell or Fujitsa, for instance, with a RoBo office expansion to buy for, then EVO:RAIL really fits the bill. Especially given the speed and simplicity of the setup, no more weeks on the road visiting many branches of your company - but do you need another vCenter each time you need a few hundred VMs?

I'm interested to see how this goes for the hardware partners (and if we see more partners) and also how it may push progress on VSAN in particular. I am not sure that it's the right fit for me personally within my company right now, but I can see the use cases being mentioned getting sales, for sure.

Monday, 25 August 2014

VMworld 2014 Day 1

A personal snapshot of some of the big news from the show;

The keynote from day 1 mentioned IT bravely delivering brave products by making brave decisions, bravely. There were also some new product numbers announced, which is what people really want to hear, I guess. I'm sure Pat Gelsinger broke the vSphere 6.0 Beta NDA by mentioning that it contained VVols, but who's gonna tell him? There was also an update to the cloud stack, with vCloud Suite 5.8. Gelsinger also mentioned the VSAN 2.0 beta and the new bundle of VMware vRealize Suite. You might know this as vCAC + vCOps Suite + Log Insight + IT Business Management Suite!

There is now a VMware OpenStack distribution available in beta today, called VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIOS) which combines the APIs from  both vSphere and OpenStack. I assume this will allow VMware to both manage and integrate with OpenStack. VMware also announced their Gold Level Open Compute Project membership. OCP was launched by Facebook back in 2011. VMware draw parallels between SDDC and OCP, so claim it is a natural fit.

Also new, VMware are collaborating with Docker, Google and Pivotal to increase enterprise exposure to Containers. This should integrate Linux Containers with vCloud Air in time. VMware’s Project Fargo is designed to enable containers on virtual machines. There's a lot of container based releases here, I expect more information to come out over the course of the rest of the show.

Bill Fathers announced that vCHs is now rebranded as VMware vCloud Air and suggested that the number of VMs in the public cloud has risen from 2% to 6% over the past 5 years. Bill also covered DR as a service, Desktop as a service, Platform as a service, DevOps as a service, DB as a service (SQL and MySQL first, with others to follow) quite a lot of scope there. Another interesting point was that VMware have brought a vCloud datacentre online at a rate of one a month in the year since it was announced!

Q3 will also see vCloud Government for US Government customers and there will also be object storage based upon EMC VIPR technology, offering the ability to store unstructured data long term.
vRealize

VMware EVO: VMware's Project Marvin - their stab at Hyper-converged infrastructure. The simple ground level product is EVO:RAIL, named for the fact that it fits into your infrastructure on the 1 rail, promising a universal HTML5 interface and a wizard driven deployment, to get you going in 15 minutes. Then there's EVO:RACK, a step up from the basics, which comes with the full vCloud suite and deploys in a couple of hours.

Finally (it seems like it's been a long time coming) we have the new certifications for networking VMware Certified Professional - Network Virtualisation (VCP-NV) and VMware Certified Implementation Expert (VCIX-NV) were both launched and are available from today. I've signed up for the VCP today, since you can just take the exam if you already hold a VCP certification and this will renew your VCP's. I was thinking of taking the VCP-Cloud to then give me 2 years to hit the VCAP's for DV, but as NSX is the new hotness, this NV track seems more viable.