In a recent survey, ESG found that more than one-third of research respondents have deployed integrated computing platforms (ICPs). The results validate the idea that an alternative IT infrastructure consumption model other than DIY methods has tremendous value. What’s responsible for driving this trend? All three points of the iron triangle—improved economics, reduced time, and predictability. For more details, check out the ESG infographic, Why ICP? A Practical Guide to Integrated Computing Platforms, and the ESG TechTruth: The Private Cloud-Integrated Computing Platform Connection.
VMware’s announcement of its EVO line of offerings (RAIL and RACK) at this past summer’s VMworld has added even more fuel to the market and further confirmation that IT has an improved means of procuring, deploying, and managing IT infrastructure. However, the EVO stamp is very prescriptive, so it’s up to each partner to differentiate its own offering. The VMware EVO:RAIL configuration is standard across all partners:
- 2U 4-node system with dual processors and 192 GB/ node
- Total of 116 TB of SSD and HDD
- Software bundle: EVO:RAIL - deployment, configuration, and management (new UI designed for EVO); vSphere Enterprise Plus; VMware VSAN; VMware vCenter; VMware Log Insight.
As a quick reminder, the current list of EVO:RAIL partners includes Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, Inspur, NetApp, and Supermicro. Each of these IT vendors must comply with the above EVO configuration.
Since the standard version of EVO:RAIL finds every solution looking nearly identical to one another, participating vendors must market, message, position, and uniquely differentiate themselves from the pack. Opportunities exist in the following five categories:
Business continuity and disaster recovery: ESG’s Senior Analyst, Jason Buffington, has been exploring the data protection aspects of an EVO:RAIL solution through a series of video blogs. Jason provides details on the data protection ramifications and offers a deeper perspective on specific opportunities for VMware, Dell, EMC, and HP. Similar opportunities also exist for NetApp now that it has joined the partner list.
Cloud gateway: Using EVO:RAIL deployments as part of a unified fabric between remote offices, central data centers, and public cloud consumption models minimally provides a gateway that extends on-premises storage to the cloud. This is an ideal opportunity that aligns well with IT initiatives. Good examples include NetApp’s data fabric providing a consistent approach across public and private clouds, and EMC’s opportunity with TwinStrata creating a gateway to the cloud. No matter the approach, cloud connection is a key differentiator.
Federated management: This is a hot button headed into 2015. Consistent management tools that provide health and monitoring, firmware updates, and integration into existing management products are essential as consumption of the hardware becomes greatly simplified. HP OneView, Dell OpenManage, Hitachi UCP Director, and EMC’s Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution (coupled into the rollup of VCE) all have an ideal opportunity to leverage with EVO implementations.
Workspace delivery: One of the target use cases for EVO:RAIL is a VMware Horizon View deployment. Currently EVO:RAIL is sized to host ~1,000 VMs (desktops) across four nodes. VMware Horizon View implementations often require professional guidance beyond the core technology. Businesses looking for these services often turn to professional services organizations or the opportunity is driven through go-to-market channel partners. All of the EVO:RAIL partners can capitalize on this, but the ones that have built out core workspace delivery practices can help accelerate an EVO-based solution into the market.
Performance: Potential EVO:RAIL consumers are going to want to see performance analytics that may be tied to general virtualization workloads or specific applications. Savvy IT professionals will want to push the relatively new VMware VSAN solution to its limits, and be aware of any of its potential shortcomings—as well as where it can excel in a price/performance scenario. Fujitsu has published some VMware VMmark results and reduction in energy cost metrics. Although ESG firmly believes that EVO:RAIL investments are not driven by speeds and feeds, it’s crucial that the EVO:RAIL partners produce performance metrics.
The next six months are important for these EVO:RAIL partners. The list of partners continues to grow, and they’ve all got their work cut out for them. They’ve got to educate their customer base on the unique value they each have to offer, and demonstrate how this plays into current implementation plans and longer term strategic IT infrastructure decisions.