VCE, the joint venture founded by EMC, Cisco and VMware, has extended its portfolio with a single-node appliance based on VMware's EVO RAIL platform aimed at use cases such as virtual desktop infrastructure and branch offices, but also enabling the benefits of converged infrastructure for smaller companies than VCE's existing line-up.
Available to order today and shipping from March, VxRail is a 2U rack-mount appliance that is essentially an x86 server node pre-configured with a VMware software stack comprising vSphere, vCenter Server and the Virtual SAN software-defined storage layer, plus a VxRail Manager tool. It is delivered ready to simply plug in and power on so that customers can start deploying virtual machine workloads.
This hyperconverged single-node appliance contrasts with VCE's existing portfolio, which are delivered as a data centre rack fitted with pre-integrated compute, storage and network hardware. This single enclosure solution is intended to open up converged platforms to new customers and use cases, according to VCE EMEA chief technology officer Nigel Moulton.
"VxRail is a product we are positioning sort of in the enterprise remote office/branch office space, but we think it also gives us a new opportunity in the small to mid-size market, and there might be a service provider play as well," he said.
VxRail is basically VCE's implementation of the EVO RAIL platform that VMware detailed in 2014. Moulton claimed that VCE is the first to market with an appliance based on this, but other firms such as Dell unveiled similar products last year.
VCE is offering a number of configuration options, including spinning disks or SSDs, while each enclosure has four slots for compute nodes which customers can choose according to the workload they intend to operate.
Customers can scale up by adding up to 16 extra nodes stacked together to form a cluster. These nodes can mix and match different processor, memory and storage configurations, according to Moulton.
However, once a customer reaches double digit territory, they are probably best advised to consider one of the larger-scale VCE solutions such as VxRack, he added, largely because the network fabric to interconnect the nodes starts to become complex.
"We have done a huge amount of work to simplify the way you set the VxRail appliance up. If you can imagine one being shipped to a remote office, you might not have IT-savvy people there but you just need someone to plug it in and walk away," Moulton said.
VCE has enabled the product so that if a customer has an existing vCenter deployment in their main data centre, VxRail will connect seamlessly to that as a node appearing in the management console, and all configuration and setup can then be handled remotely.
Virtual desktop infrastructure fits neatly with this, according to Moulton, as one problem is that remote users accessing the system can find it delivers an unsatisfactory experience because of the available WAN bandwidth or network latency issues. Hosting those users on their own local server solves that problem, and VxRail is perfect for that, he claimed.
At launch, VxRail can be configured with compute nodes that have up to 20 cores, up to 512GB memory and up to 10TB storage. Storage can be SSD or disk, but customers cannot mix the two in a single appliance. VCE will offer further configurations with all-flash storage from June. Prices for each appliance start at $60,000.
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