On February 3rd, my podcast partner (Brent Piatti) and I had the pleasure of having Chad Sakac join us on The Hot Aisle to discuss his new role as President of VCE. We asked Chad questions to find out exactly what the good, the bad, and the fugly of his new job would be – including what’s in store for the future for the newly minted EMC Converged Platforms Division.
Of course, it’s pretty hard to keep a secret these days – especially when you have something exciting to talk about like the launch of VxRail – the re-tooled, re-branded, and re-located EMC Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance (HCIA). Some of you are likely already familiar with VSPEX:Blue – which was the EMC provided solution following the EVO:Rail HCIA Program by VMware. VxRail is the next evolution of that product (a New Standard!), bringing the whole standard and integration up a level. The name itself is a nod to both it’s Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) portfolio peers in the VxRack family, and the EVO:Rail program where it finds it’s roots. However, that’s where the similarities somewhat end.
VxRail is the exclusive, fully VMware integrated, preconfigured, and pre-tested Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance (HCIA). As before, it’s rooted in VMware’s vSphere and Virtual SAN (VSAN). Combined with additional EMC Software (ESRS, VxRail Manager), VxRail is Engineered, Managed, and Supported by a single phone call. No asterisk needed. Period.
While still keeping the promise to be as simple as possible from a deployment and support perspective. VxRail is much less prescriptive, giving customers flexibility from a CPU, memory, disk, and node scale perspective. VxRail is also based on entirely new Intel Chipsets from the previous VSPEX:Blue – allowing customers to consume more powerful and more dense hosts in the appliances. VxRail is also powered by the dynamic improvements in VSAN recently announced by VMware on February 10. (In Q1, VxRail will be based on VSAN 6.1 – in Q2, through an automated upgrade managed by the VxRail Manager, VSAN 6.2 is a free upgrade). Those VSAN features include Deduplication, Compression, Erasure Coding, QoS, updated Performance Monitoring, and much more. Add to that existing features such as 2 node deployments, all flash configurations, scale to 64 nodes and ~500 disks.
Want more nerd knobs on the hardware? Check out the VxRail Spec Sheet. Need to know more about the VxRail Marketplace, and the included software like CloudArray, RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines (RP4VM’s), vDPA, and more? Check out the VxRail Data Sheet.
Now, for some virtual nerd knobs – Let’s dig into that simplicity a bit:
After a quick rack and stack in your datacenter of choice (careful, it’s dense – and heavy!), you’ll power up the appliance and come to a Welcome to VxRail screen. Click “Get Started” to begin your brief journey. Don’t blink!
After the automated setup wizard validates network (not only to verify for typos, but also to thoroughly check connectivity (and prove the network guys did their job…) – the install completes its tasks, and you’re prompted with a single button to launch the VxRail Manager. From there, you have a single point of entry into all the parts of your Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance (HCIA). It’s important to note (remind) that although this automation and orchestration with management tools is here to benefit for simplicity and ease of use and deployment – there’s still tried and true VMware underneath the covers. The same proven ESXi hypervisor, the same proven Virtual SAN, and the same proven networking functions that you’re used to. Nothing about the VxRail toolset changes that. OK, that being said… let’s cruise around the GUI a bit.
Add another appliance to the network, and VxRail will detect – validate – and offer a one-click option to add it to the existing infrastructure. It will then expand and balance all features across each of the appliances – up to 16 in a single cluster, 64 hosts total, which is a standard vCenter limit.
In addition to cool Hyper Converged Software like VSAN, VxRail also includes additions by EMC to give it just another level of that expectedEnterprise Support. Drill into the hardware to see every aspect of the system health, serial numbers, and any other support aspect you can imagine. Drive health, power supply health, fan health, thermals – you name it.
Good news is, it’s simple. Bad news is, it’s so simple I’ve run out of screenshots (or maybe time – but we’ll never tell anyone. VxRail truly is about simplicity, of both operations and consumption. The scalability doesn’t hurt, either. Consuming in small, manageable chunks has its benefits in many Data Centers today. Ask yourself – why build what you could buy? If you’re not in the business of building Hyper-Converged Software, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, or any other aspects of your Data Center – let the experts handle it for you – so you can focus on what’s truly core to your business.
Oh, and if you somehow missed the VxRail launch on February 16 (today) – you can watch it at anytime here: VxRail Launch Video