One year ago, VMware made a big splash at VMworld – naming SDDC as the future software-defined infrastructure platform. At that time, I was still a Gartner analyst and wrote a blog post that criticized VMware for not going far enough. What a difference a year makes. Today, I’m thrilled to be part of a company that is radically simplifying how IT infrastructure is delivered and managed.
Most of my time at VMware is spent meeting and speaking with senior IT leaders. One trend that I often hear is how they increasingly see little value in building and delivering their own custom versions of commodity IT services. To them, commodity means non-differentiating, which equates to the services that every organization in the world must deploy and maintain. That includes tasks like server, storage, network and security provisioning and maintenance. The thought is simple; if you can get commodity services delivered in a software/hardware stack that’s maintained by a vendor, opex costs can be dramatically reduced and IT operations teams are freed to focus on what really matters. That affords more time for improving the agility and efficiency of critical business applications. The security administrator that previously spent too much time manually writing firewall rules now has more time to research emerging threats and associated response methodologies. When you let go of building things that are just basic building block requirements for any application, there is so much more time for true innovation.
That all said, these ideas aren’t new. In fact, countless organizations have deployed converged infrastructure solutions offered by a variety of our hardware partners for years. Our hyper-converged EVO offerings should not be seen as a replacement, but rather as a complement. Converged infrastructure solutions that leverage traditional enterprise infrastructure architectures such as networked-based storage will remain a staple for critical business applications for a very long time.
What is EVO?
We branded our hyper-converged offerings as “EVO” because we see them as an evolutionary technology. EVO is a preconfigured, pre-integrated SDDC stack that is offered by several VMware hardware partners. VMware will not sell EVO-based hardware solutions. We simply provide the software and specifications to our hardware partners, who will ship and support the EVO solutions. Our EVO solutions leverage vSphere as well as vSAN and local-attached storage. At VMworld 2014, we announced two EVO solutions, EVO:RAIL and the tech preview for EVO:RACK. Both solutions provide simple, streamlined SDDC deployments and ongoing maintenance. Think of deploying data center infrastructure as like buying and updating an iPhone. That’s the goal.
EVO:RAIL is designed for smaller-scale scenarios, while EVO:RACK is architected with very large deployments in mind. The high level differences are outlined below.
Data center infrastructure approaches that shift value to the software stack are already commonplace in many public cloud deployments. These architectures provide ultimate application portability along with hardware independence. This transition is an inevitable journey and history is on our side. As you begin the journey, it’s unlikely that you will start with critical applications. Those should remain on solutions you know and trust from our hardware partners. That said, it’s easy to start small with EVO:RAIL. For example, you could begin using EVO:RAIL for the following:
- Tier-4 applications such as backend IT reporting applications that are not customer facing
- Development and test environments
- Supporting platform 3 applications that are natively resilient and scale out when needed for performance. It’s not necessary running those workloads on a hardware platform that provides redundant capabilities offered by the application stack.
- Branch office deployments
- Virtual desktop deployments
As you gain experience and trust in these solutions, you can then look to run more workloads on the EVO platform. While this post introduces our new technologies, I encourage you to read the following blogs for more information:
- Meet VMware EVO:RAIL™ – A New Building Block for your SDDC
- EVO: RACK Tech Preview at VMworld 2014
- VMware is Now an Open Compute Project Gold Level Member