VMware is pushing hybrid cloud as a cornerstone of the way its customers will implement IT applications and services in the future.
But a key part of this is ensuring that firms have advanced far enough down the road of turning their own infrastructure into a highly automated private cloud, and this is where the firm's EVO platform comes into the picture.
The EVO portfolio was introduced last year with EVO:RAIL, a converged infrastructure appliance platform aimed at smaller companies and branch offices. But the main contender in the family is the larger scale EVO SDDC (software-defined data centre) line, which is intended to deliver a building block for the SDDC that makes it much easier for organisations to deploy and scale a private cloud.
"The goal of EVO SDDC is to provide the easiest path to the SDDC. As a company, SDDC is the vision for the architecture of the next-generation data centre for private and hybrid cloud," VMware's senior director of marketing for integrated systems, Alberto Farronato, told V3.
"Today, customers are recognising the value of SDDC and want to get there, but they are doing it in a couple of different ways. They purchase discrete server, network and storage, then integrate and deploy the VMware software. Or they buy converged infrastructure systems, where compute, storage, network all come in the form of a pre-validated, pre-integrated appliance, and again deploy the VMware software."
But there is a growing category of customers that lacks the time and IT skills to build out and develop a private cloud, so they need a solution that can get them there faster, according to VMware.
EVO SDDC is thus a new class of integrated system aimed at delivering a turnkey solution for an SDDC. Unlike EVO:RAIL, which is integrated into a single enclosure, EVO SDDC is a rack-level solution that scales up to eight racks initially, delivered through hardware partners including Dell, Quanta Cloud Technology and VCE, another EMC Federation company.
However, the most important part of EVO SDDC is the software stack, which includes a new EVO SDDC Manager. This provides the turnkey deployment and ongoing automated management capabilities that VMware sees as essential for customers to take full advantage of cloud computing.
"The idea is that the customer receives from one of the qualified partners a ready-to-roll ‘rackable' solution with pre-loaded software, so that you just have to connect the rack to the power and the enterprise network, and the EVO SDDC Manager will then automate the bringing up of the entire system, configuring the hardware and all of the virtualisation and virtual infrastructure requirements," Farronato explained.
If the customer has acquired the system for operating virtual desktop infrastructure, it will also configure VMware's Horizon platform, while for a self-service private cloud it will configure vRealize Automation.
EVO SDDC is still in trials with a limited number of VMware customers, but some of these have demonstrated the ability to go from initial power-on to being fully operational with virtual machines operating within two hours, Farronato claimed.
Farronato was careful to avoid saying that EVO SDDC will be the preferred way for customers to deploy VMware infrastructure in the future, saying only that it "provides the easiest path" to an SDDC. However, the impression gleaned from VMware executives at VMworld is that they would very much like to see customers deploy new infrastructure using EVO SDDC.
The fly in the ointment is that EVO SDDC Manager can be used only with hardware certified as part of the EVO SDDC platform, so it typically will not be able to provision and configure existing VMware-based infrastructure.
A full SDDC is part of VMware's broader Unified Hybrid Cloud vision because it will provide a similar level of automation in the customer's on-premise infrastructure as is already implemented in the big public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft's Azure, or VMware's own vCloud Air, making it easier to link the two environments.
VMware president and chief operating officer Carl Eschenbach said during his keynote address at VMworld Europe that the firm is aiming for "seamless integration between a private cloud and one or more public clouds, whether that is AWS or Azure or one of our vCloud Air Network partners" which will "make it seem as if you are accessing one big logical cloud".
This was demonstrated by VMware's vice president for storage and availability, Yanbling Li, who performed a vMotion migration of a virtual machine from a private cloud in Barcelona to VMware's vCloud Air data centre near London.
VMware is leading the way in converged infrastructure with EVO SDDC, Farronato claimed.
"To the degree that we're providing a full SDDC on hyperconverged infrastructure, I think our offering is pretty unique. There are others that are trying to do some of this, but they are nowhere near as close," he said.
The nearest competitor is Microsoft's Cloud Platform System, based on Dell hardware, which "should eventually become something similar" to EVO SDDC, he said.
VMware is aiming for broad availability of EVO SDDC sometime during 2016, based on feedback from the trial customers.
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