For those not familiar with EVO:RAIL, this is a great solution from VMware that offers a hyperconverged infrastructure with easy management by leveraging software solutions such as vSphere, vCenter, VSAN and log insight. This solution seems to have the attention of many customers as deployment, and administration are greatly simplified and does not require a high level engineer to maintain the environment.
Although the announcement that NetApp would be launching a hyperconverged EVO:RAIL solution was made late last year, the product has not yet been released to the public (as far as I know). So there are a lot of questions out there. Is it FAS? Is it EVO:RAIL? or a combination? Well, the answer is both and more.
This is a NetApp integrated EVO:RAIL solution that includes both EVO and the NetApp C-DOT we currently know. This offering allows low level admins to administer VMware and NetApp from the same console via VSC. More on VSC, VASA and VAAI here. So in essence, when you get the NetApp 4RU appliance, you use a simple GUI wizard that automatically configures NetApp C-DOT and presents the storage to VMware. So this solution not only virtualizes the compute side but also the storage side.
Being that you have NetApp integrated into this solution, you are still able to use different protocols as well as SAN and NAS offerings, just like we do now with other FAS systems. This solution also includes automated back-up and recovery features, QoS, and Cloud integration by leveraging NetApp Data Fabric.
So, Why did NetApp decide to jump on the EVO:RAIL bandwagon???
Well, I believe that NetApp recognizes the competition with new storage vendors such as SolidFire, Tintri, and Simplivity among others, that offer all flash, high performance, easy to use hyperconverged solutions. Also NetApp recognizes the need for a solution for small and medium size businesses that do not have the luxury of hiring several IT staff to manage different areas of IT. Lastly, I believe NetApp is recognizing that in order to survive, they need diversify, as the days of shared enterprise storage may be coming to an end by the introduction of new technologies that drive costs down and simplifies administration while reducing overhead.
NetApp seems to be targeting departments and business areas for this specific solution. In my opinion EVO:RAIL (not just NetApp’s) has many other uses cases such as VDI deployments, production loads for remote offices in different geo-locations, test/dev, as well as DR source/target when combined with a Cloud offering.
I’m curious to see what the final product would be like, and how it would stand against other EVO:RAIL offerings.