VMware Debuts EVO: RAIL - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
09:45 AM
Connect Directly

VMware Debuts EVO: RAIL

VMware's EVO: RAIL serves as a small, flexible building block to simplify and streamline creation and deployment of virtualized environments, private clouds.

On Monday VMware will launch a stack of its virtualization software able to be preinstalled on hardware, for customers that want a "hyper-converged" building block for building out virtualization environments.

VMware calls the building block EVO: RAIL, short for an evolutionary compute unit that slides into a 2U rack server space on a rail. The design is reminiscent of Open Compute project's hardware that slid into racks on rails for easy serviceability.

It might sound as if VMware wants to compete with parent company EMC and Cisco's subsidiary, VCE, the maker of the converged infrastructure Vblocks (VMware is actually an investor in VCE), or possibly with HP with its converged infrastructure hardware units. VCE's converged infrastructure amounts to a rack of x86 hardware loaded with VMware software and a Cisco Nexus 5000 switch offloading virtual machine storage and network traffic to the top-of-rack switch. But Vblocks are full racks of servers; VMware's EVO:RAILs are fractions of racks: four server nodes sliding into the 2U space of a 42-space rack.

By "hyper-converged," VMware appears to mean that the hardware will come with all the elements configured for the most advanced forms of virtualization, including Virtual SAN or VSAN storage, introduced early this year. VSAN converts the disks on a rack of VM hosts into a shared pool. With such an assembly, it's easier to approximate infrastructure driven strictly by policies and software systems rather than by operations staff.

[Read about how Goodwill Industries saves costs with cloud-based DR: Cloud ROI Easy Win: Disaster Recovery.]

With virtualization so well established in the data center, VMware wants to make it simpler and easier to add infrastructure without requiring IT to do a lot of configuration. "We are trying to keep it very simple. We are being very prescriptive," said Mornay Van Der Walt, VP emerging solutions at VMware, in an interview.

The company also wants to enable private clouds as a more automated form of virtualization. Instead of assembling their own servers, storage and networking, EVO: RAIL customers can simply order a single SKU through VMware and designate their hardware supplier of choice. Several will be available, including at least two or three that participate in production of Open Compute Project designs, according to Van Der Walt. He didn't name any specific manufacturers, but the group includes Hyve, Quanta Computer, and Applied Micro.

"Buying converged infrastructure [from VCE or HP] represents an investment somewhere north of $500,000," said Van Der Walt. Current products from the hardware partners who will sell EVO: RAIL in the future fall more in the $80,000 to $250,000 range, he said. "We think we will see a major shift from converged to hyper-converged building blocks."

Each node in the hyper-converged infrastructure should be able, on average, to host 100 virtual machines or 250 virtual desktops. That means each 2U space in the EVO: RAIL server rack has the potential to run 400 virtual machines or 1,000 desktops, a higher concentration than found in the typical data center virtualized environment.

VMware expects those ratios to make EVO: RAIL assemblies attractive for virtual desktop infrastructure deployments or virtual private clouds, Van Der Walt said. And with pricing that starts around $80,000, customers may look at the speed of installation and time to running VMs as arguments to use the "hyper-converged" approach for new infrastructure.

Cloud Connect (Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2014) brings its "cloud-as–business–enabler" programming to Interop New York for the first time in 2014. The two-day Cloud Connect Summit will give Interop attendees an intensive immersion in how to leverage the cloud to drive innovation and growth for their business. In addition to the Summit, Interop will feature five cloud workshops programmed by Cloud Connect. The Interop Expo will also feature a Cloud Connect Zone showcasing cloud companies' technology solutions. Register with Discount Code MPIWK or $200 off Total Access or Cloud Connect Summit Passes.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
9/18/2014 | 9:07:24 AM
Re: EVO: Rail, a branch office system, among other things
Hi Charlie,

Do you think at such a high price EVO RAIL will find customers? Competitors of VMware are probably lining up similar applications which they can sell for half the price of the EVO RAIL.




User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 2:48:56 PM
Hyper Converged marketspace is a competitive market
It is intriguing to see VMware jumping on the hyper convergence band wagon. VMware's EVO: RAIL customers can expect incredible speeds endowed by its hyper converged infrastructure appliance. Hyper convergence is a truly lovely twist with this stock keeping unit presenting all an enterprise needs; hardware and software plus support in the SKU. VMware is given an importantly wide distribution channel by partnering with companies such as Dell to sell the product. It will be interesting to see how other hyper converged providers are going to act in response to VMware's debut into the industry. 
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2014 | 1:28:22 PM
EVO: RAIL hardware suppliers named
The hardware suppliers of EVO: RAIL were named at VMworld and will be: Dell, Fujitsu, Inspur Group, Netone, Supermicro Computer and VMware parent company, EMC. Inspur is the Chinese company formerly known as Langchao. Supermicro is a server designer and builder as well as a custom builder. NetOne is a Florida-based supplier.

Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 8:07:55 PM
EVO: Rail, a branch office system, among other things
EVO: Rail is the kind of unit that you could put in a remote office/branch office or secondary business unit location without a huge investment in a full data center infrastructure. That's one of the use cases that it's designed for.
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 11:51:16 AM
Hardware partners
I am curious to learn who the hardware partners will be. The price point comparison is interesting.
User Rank: Strategist
8/25/2014 | 10:47:02 AM
Haven + Evo could be massive.
The hyper converged architecture is excellent news not just for VM resource seekers, IT shops etc. but also companies which deal with plenty of digital data like marketing, sales and advertizing firms. Given the big data converged insfrastructures like HAVEN (goo.gl/HFdxfV) are doing the broadcast outlet and analytics bit, it's great to have a platform which can handle the network traffic and churn the data from several dedicated machines for metrics.
How GIS Data Can Help Fix Vaccine Distribution
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/17/2021
Graph-Based AI Enters the Enterprise Mainstream
James Kobielus, Tech Analyst, Consultant and Author,  2/16/2021
11 Ways DevOps Is Evolving
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Flash Poll