Is your IT infrastructure an Oil Tanker?

I had the opportunity to attend an Avnet/EMC/VMware/Brocade sponsored for channel partners EVO-RAIL VSPEX Blue BootCamp.

In a nutshell it was all you can drink information from a firehose— about EVO-RAIL specifically the EMC VSPEX BLUE.

EVO RAIL is a new beast of an animal. It is a different breed. No, not in and single dimension you measure. The combination of technology presented is a synergy. Definition: Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.

Yes; you can get the the form factor for compute separately. You can also do the same for VSAN and ESXi vSphere 5.5 and networking. but you cannot get what the entire VSPEX BLUE offering of EVO RAIL provides TOGETHER.

I get ahead of myself.

You have to have perspective to understand where we are today. To me that means if you don’t know where you come from you  cannot know where are you today and where you will be tomorrow. It is all relative.

EVO RAIL is a clustered system. It is a Datacenter in a 2U form factor. Not just compute but a modern hyper converged solution.


Sure. Another IT buzzword. Is it just talk? I would say no.

Everyone is talking about it but only a few are “doing it”… more often than not the IT industry is a buzz with the new technology of the day.
In this case it is Hyper-converged.
To put it simply storage is local to compute. What a minute how is that different than 15 years ago when Client-Server model was the norm and storage was already local to the compute. Compute meaning the processing of the server CPU. Well lots has changed.
How is it better. A snapshot of what is the current available technology:
  • Compute is way, way faster and more dense.
  • Networks are 10 gigabit vs Fast Ethernet 100 Base-T or FDDI Optical rings are no longer the only viable choice.
  • Storage is IOPs crazy.
  • And add to that the agility of VMware Virtualization!
So look at the speed of compute, network and storage. Technology will continue to get faster and better (lower cost for the return on investment).
But what really hasn’t changed much is the complexity of the solution. There are many moving parts but how do you delivery your solution today to support legacy applications and have the agility to respond to changing business objectives.
The old phrase “turning an oil tanker on a dime”. Is IT today an Oil tanker? Does your private cloud have the agility your business requires? How will the current toolset respond? How will your staff? Oh what was that “IT staffing has been reduced and that is a trend that hasn’t gone away”
IT organizations are forced to do more with little… queue in viable alternatives…
Do you outsource.. the simplest short term gain, but not always the best long term investment.
I view EVO rail as a datacenter in a box. EVO-RAIL VPSEX Blue is Not the Cluster in a box solution but much much more.
This reminds me of the forerunning of MCSC cluster in a box. Like I said.. perspective. Where has the IT industry been before relative to where it is today. I recall back in the day when cluster in a box was a viable (and the best solution at the time) era 2000. That was only a high-availablity MSCS cluster with one node active at a time. 
Yes, I deployed and supported a few of these solutions. It was cutting edge back then.
Adjusted for inflation:
$1000.00 USD in 2000 is $1395.20
so the CL1850 was $27,864.00 (2000 $)
or $38,569 in 2015 $.
But what did you get for your IT dollar?
Each “node” in the CL1850
  • 1 GB RAM (128-MB 100-MHz registered ECC SDRAM memory)
  • 2 Pentium III processors @550MHz
  • 3 NICS (one dedicate for internode communication) 100 BaseT
  • 2 RAID controllers
Shared Storage System:
  • 218.4 GB (6 x 36.4-GB 1′′ Ultra3 10,000 drives)
Form Factor 10U
Fast forward to 2015….What does EVO-RAIL VSPEX BLUE PROVIDE:
Each EMC VSPEX BLUE appliance includes:
  • 4 nodes of integrated compute and storage, including flash (SSD) and HDD — 2U
  • VMware EVO:RAIL software including VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN), Log Insight
        12 cores @ 2.1GHz per node
  • 128 or 192 GB memory per node
  • Choice of 10 Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity: SFP+ or RJ45
  • Drives: up to 16 (four per node)
  • Drives per node: 1 x 2.5” SSD, 3 x 2.5” HDD
  • Drive capacities
    • HDD: 1.2TB (max total 14.4TB)
    • SSD for caching: 400GB (max total 1.6TB)
               14.4TB capacity RAW
Additional Software Solutions – Exclusive to VSPEX-BLUE
  • EMC VSPEX BLUE Manager providing a system health dashboard and support portal
  • EMC CloudArray to expand storage capacity into the cloud (license for 1 TB cache and 10 TB cloud storage included)
  • VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDPA) for centralized backup and recovery
  • EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines for continuous data protection of VMs. Includes licenses for 15 VMs.

The question still remains. Is your IT infrastructure an Oil Tanker? OR Can you turn on a dime??

How does your IT respond the the ever changing business demands?

Is EVO RAIL for everyone? There are a lot of use cases that EVO RAIL VSPEX BLUE will work perfect for. But,  No it isn’t for everyone.  BUT what it does is usher in a new consumption of IT that is different manner. You will not have to be provision your datacenter in the same piece meal function. You can commoditize that to a pre-validated solution that is supported by a single vendor.


This graphic has a lot more details than this single blog post can explain! I will try to explain each section that helps to make VSPEX BLUE a different redefined EVO RAIL solution.


– VSPEX BLUE Manager users can conveniently access electronic services, such as the EMC knowledge base articles, access to the VSPEX Community for online and real-time information and EMC VSPEX BLUE best practices.


– ESRS is a two-way, secure remote connection between your EMC environment and EMC Customer Service that enables remote monitoring, diagnosis, and repair – assuring availability and optimization of your EMC products






– Built in Deduplicated Backups, powered by EMC Avamar


– Block and File upto 10 TB FREE. “EMC CloudArray software provided scalable cloud based storage with your choice of many leading cloud providers enabling limitless Network Attached Storage, offsite backup and disaster recovery and the ability to support both Block and File simply”


– Built into the VSPEX MANAGER dashboard. This unique feature enables customers to browse complementary EMC and 3rd party products that easily extend the capabilities of the appliance.

Again there are a lot of take aways for the VSPEX BLUE – EVO RAIL solution. Contact me if you more information.

The answer is…. VMware EVO:RAIL ?? VMworld2014

VMworld 2014 has just wrapped up. WOW!
There is SO MUCH to share and so much to learn.
One of the biggest things to make public is EVO:RAIL.

That is just one of many.. other items to be discussed later…


What is EVO:RAIL
An overview demo from Duncan Epping.

EVO:RAIL is considered a HCIA, Hyper Converged Infrastructure Appliance

Some points to consider. “With an EVO:RAIL SYSTEM from power on within 15 minutes you can start provisioning VMs” WOW. Think about the decrease in complexity for the implementation. That is not just converged but HYPER-CONVERGED.

Like the wiki definition states; this is a single optimized computing package. You have virtualized compute, virtualized storage. All underneath an optimized management layer. vCenter, and log insight is the backbone but you have an optimized HTML5 INTERFACE.

This is the core fundamentals of SDDC. Software Defined Data Center.

EVO: RAIL Management
EVO: RAIL enables deployment, configuration, and management through a new, intuitive HTML5-based user
interface showcased in the next section. EVO: RAIL provides new non-disruptive updates for VMware software with zero downtime and automatic scale-out of EVO: RAIL appliances.

Software components of EVO:RAIL
• EVO: RAIL Deployment, Configuration, and Management
• VMware vSphere® Enterprise Plus, including ESXi for compute
• Virtual SAN for storage
• vCenter Server™
• vCenter Log Insight™

What does one EVO:RAIL Provide?
Virtual Machine Density
• EVO: RAIL is sized to run approximately 100 average-sized, general-purpose, data center VMs. Actual capacity varies by VM size and workload. There are no restrictions on application type. EVO: RAIL supports any application that a customer would run on vSphere.

(General-purpose VM profile: 2 vCPU, 4GB vMEM, 60GB of vDisk, with redundancy)

But, but .. I need more power!!
There will be a followup to EVO:RAIL… EVO:RACK!!!

Highly Resilient by Design

A highly resilient HCIA design starting with four independent server nodes within a 2U footprint from our qualified EVO:RAIL partners. Each node is running vSphere and Virtual SAN, configured as a single vSphere cluster with a single distributed Virtual SAN datastore; add into the mix VMotion, HA and DRS for additional resiliency, you now have all the key ingredients to facilitate zero VM downtime during planned maintenance or during disk, or a host failure.

Some key notes from Duncan’s post:
Customer Choice

EVO:RAIL is delivered as a fully integrated HCIA offering via a single SKU to the customer. There are two important things to note:

EVO:RAIL is not a reference architecture
A customer cannot purchase the EVO:RAIL software standalone and attempt to build their own HCIA on an EVO:RAIL Partners qualified and optimized hardware or non qualified server hardware

This is just the beginning of many conversations. Some questions to followup on would be to define the use case for EVO:RAIL.
How does it integrate into a brownfield environment? How to scale out this solution? Can you use other storage in addition to VSAN? What are licensing cost?

It’s alive!!! Marvin lives…


From wikipedia:
“Converged infrastructure operates by grouping multiple information technology (IT) components into a single, optimized computing package. Components of a converged infrastructure may include servers, data-storage devices, networking equipment and software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration.”


What is EVO:RAIL



What is Converged Infrastructure?