VCE Launches VxRack Hyperconverged Rack-Scale Solutions

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 4, 2015

VCE announced a new family of hyper-converged RackScale Systems that the company said will enable enterprises and service providers (SPs) to dramatically simplify the deployment of next generation scale out mobile, cloud and distributed Tier 2 applications. The VCE VxRack System allows customers to start with dozens of servers and scale to thousands of servers with tens of petabytes of storage capacity while delivering high performance/value per IOP.

Most importantly, VCE offers its proven methodology of pre-engineered factory built infrastructure with single call lifecycle support to VxRack Systems, providing owners the same unmatched VCE customer experience. The new solutions also connect into VCE’s recently announced VCE Vscale Architecture, and will be supported by VCE Vision software to achieve a unified data center architecture that spans multiple locations and geographies. The new solutions include:

  • A VxRack System offering flexible choice of hypervisor, including VMware vSphere, KVM or bare metal. The system leverages EMC ScaleIO software-defined storage, Cisco top of rack Nexus switching and can optionally incorporate factory integration of the VMware vRealize management and orchestration suite.
  • A VxRack System offering tailored for VMware environments, offers a fully integrated VMware stack based on VMware’s EVO:RACK technology and VMware Virtual SAN.

The VxRack Systems offering a flexible choice of hypervisor will be orderable in July and will begin shipping in Q3. Additional details on the VxRack System based on VMware’s EVO:RACK technology and VMware Virtual SAN will be previewed at VMWorld 2015.

The pitch

VCE’s new VxRack Systems address the growing demand for highly flexible and cost-effective hyper-converged rack-scale solutions.

Final analysis

Since its beginning, VCE has followed a path that ignored or contradicted nearly every convention that Silicon Valley holds dear. How so?

  • The company was initially formed as a joint venture between three of IT’s most competitive and successful vendors, EMC, VMware and Cisco, a model that many in the industry said was doomed to fail. But VCE’s partners found common cause and a host of willing enterprise and service provider clients who appreciated the company’s “best-of-breed” design approach.
  • Virtually all system vendors start small, first developing lower end or single-use servers before tackling more complex systems. In contrast, VCE’s foundational Vblock solutions rewrote the book on mission-critical enterprise computing.
  • Many critics suggested that VCE’s focus on factory-integrated converged solutions was too narrow to succeed commercially in the short term. Instead, VCE has enjoyed steady year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth of over 50 percent through 2014, achieving a $2 billion annual run rate less than four years after its 2010 launch.
  • At a time when some other enterprise server vendors are doubling down on proprietary technologies, VCE remains firmly committed to industry standard components.
  • In contrast to vendors that pursue often confusing varieties of client engagement and support models, the VCE Experience in which the company’s solutions are engineered, manufactured, managed, supported and sustained as single products, is a central element and core value proposition available to all of the company’s customers.

In short, rather than following the common wisdom of system vendors evolving upward and achieving greater product sophistication and complexity over time, VCE has evolved outward, steadily creating innovative new solutions that are closely aligned with its customers’ most pressing business requirements and compute needs.

Those include significantly enhancing the performance of mission-critical applications and workloads, radically simplifying deployment and management tasks and markedly lowering long-term operating expenses (OPEX). This last point is evident in the company’s new VxRack Systems which qualify as a next logical step in VCE’s portfolio of hyperconverged solutions.

EMC’s VSPEX BLUE appliances launched in February of this year. Based on VMware’s EVO:RAIL and EMC software, VSPEX BLUE leverages commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to deliver cost-effective, easy-to-deploy and manage virtualized solutions. But while VSPEX BLUE can support dozens of virtual servers running on one to four 2U-servers, VCE found a pressing need for far more scalable, configurable and adaptable hyper-converged solutions.

This is particularly the case for increasingly common “third platform” workloads, such as next generation databases, big data, social, mobile and cloud native applications. That’s where VxRack Systems come in, cost-effectively leveraging “bright box” nodes of servers with embedded HDDs and/or SSDs (depending on workload requirements) to support linear scalability from 4 to 1000+ nodes. Though VxRack Systems will initially be available in one of two “personalities” configured according to customers’ virtualization preferences, I expect VCE to develop additional VxRack personalities over time.

With Vblocks and VxBlocks centered on core tier one apps, transactional systems and traditional applications that require a highly resilient and scalable infrastructure, VxRack Systems offer a robust, valuable platform for a variety of new and tier two applications that require scale. But just as important is VxRack’s integration with VCE’s Vscale unified data center architecture and that it also supports VCE’s Vision Intelligent Operations software.

In essence, VCE customers can rest assured that VxRack systems can be easily incorporated into their existing VCE environments as part of a shared pool of compute resources. As a result, VxRack solutions can also be a valuable addition to customers’ private and hybrid cloud computing efforts and practices.

Overall, VCE’s new VxRack offerings qualify as a logical, powerful next step for both the company’s solution portfolio and in its continuing evolution as an enterprise system vendor. VxRack Systems also lend credence to the company’s continuing go-to-market strategy.

By paying greater attention to solving clients’ problems than it does to the often questionable wisdom of the IT industry crowd, VCE has crafted a course hugely beneficial to both itself and its growing roster of enterprise customers and service providers. In this context, VCE’s VxRack Systems qualify as the latest step in a journey that has already seen many successes, with many more to come.

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