VMware EVO: RAIL (aka Project Mystic)

I am not sure how many of you have read up on the EVO: RAIL announcement from VMworld (Chad also talked a little about this in the SE All-hands meeting). If you have, you know this is one of the coolest things coming to the market. If you haven’t heard, you are about to (as Chad would say) have your face melted. This is one of the coolest things I have seen since Superman teamed up with Batman in the original 1997 cartoon (Yup, that cool)….

VMware’s “EVO” is a new family of Hyper Converged Infrastructure (compute, storage, and networking) software for the software defined datacenter. EVO: RAIL is their new hardware appliance that runs EVO and represents the first generation of this new family. It combines VMware software, including vSphere, Virtual SAN (VSAN), and vCenter Log Insight, with a 2U/4-node hardware platform all sold under one SKU. The 2U/4-node platform’s per-node requirements include a 400 GB SSD to accommodate VSAN read/write cache, three 1.2 TB 10k SAS drives for the VSAN data store, up to 192 GB of memory, and Intel Xeon CPUs (6 cores). The appliance connects to one or more top-of-rack switches via 10 gigabit copper or fiber.


Managing EVO is dumb easy. Everything is GUI driven. You can see real time performance graphs from either your storage, network, or capture environment. Provisioning VMs is now an easy step-by-step wizard that offers best practice VM configuration suggestions based on the type of VM you are spinning up.


VMware claims that a single EVO: RAIL appliance can support 100 general purpose VMS or 250 virtual desktops. EVO: RAIL also scales out as you add appliances. For example, if you add four EVO: RAIL appliances you can then support 400 general purpose VMS or 1000 virtual desktops in a single cluster with a single VSAN datastore. As of right now, EVO: RAIL can be scaled out to four appliances offering a total of 16 ESX hosts (4 nodes x 4 appliances = 16 hosts).


Because of EVO:RAIL’s modular layout, you can swap out faulted hardware components without down time. You can also do code upgrades in the GUI or add EVO: RAIL appliances to the cluster without downtime.

VMware is targeting this new product at the VDI market, remote and branch offices, and virtual private clouds offering by its service provider partners.  Supposedly EVO:RAIL will be sold through VMware’s partners like Dell, EMC (YEAHOO!), Fujitsu, Inspur, NetOne and SuperMicro. VMware expects partners will be able to ship RAIL appliances in the second half of this year. If you haven’t already, I HIGHLY recommend checking out chads blog where he goes over EVO: RAIL and gets into the weeds a bit which is always good for understanding a bit of the architecture of it. Obviously this doesn’t exactly help EMCs relationship with Cisco since that who “NSX thing” last year. Cisco is a key EMC partner in VCE so it’s always good to hear what upper management’s perspective is on these kinds of things. Regardless of the politics, this is some really cool stuff!

I can’t wait to see what else comes out of VMworld this year (vSphere 6 maybe). Excelsior!

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