NetApp goes for a ride on VMware's EVO: RAILs

ROBO RAIL FlexPod-style, but nobody knows where the compute will come from

NetApp will offer VMWare's EVO: RAIL hyperconverged rigs but with its networked FAS arrays.

NetApp says its offering will have three main components:

  • VMware EVO: RAIL
  • NetApp Clusetred Data ONTAP
  • NetAppFAS arrays

It's designed for enterprise remote and branch offices (ROBO), also SMBs, with limited IT staff and apps in VMware virtual server environments.

The idea of a hyper-converged system including a network array is a bit of a stretch to people schooled in the idea of Nutanix/Simplicity single-box simplicity. Maxta and other software storage startups started the rot with reference architectures for hype-convergence. Is this EVO: RAIL gone off the rails or just marketing-speak to water down the original pure hyper-converged idea and wrap legacy product in fashionable new paper?

Whatever; there's no resisting floods of marketing-speak; it's game over in that department. What does NetApp say about its new offering? Here's George Kurian, EVP for product ops:

"By combining NetApp storage with VMware EVO: RAIL, we now offer an integrated solution that offers simple, cost-effective scaling, enterprise performance and protection required for business critical applications, a single point of support point, and best of all, complete flexibility to integrate with the cloud using the NetApp Data Fabric.”

And here's Raghu Raghuram, EVP and GM for VMware's Software-Defined Data Center Division:

“The NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL Solution will bring together ... NetApp enterprise storage with a pre-integrated and pre-tested 100 per cent VMware EVO: RAIL software stack."

Oddly, NetApp isn't saying - neither in canned statements or to members of its Australian team - just what servers it will use. NetApp Australia's told there'll be 48 cores and 192GB of RAM per mode, but staff in the antipodean branch haven't been told who will make the servers. We were told, however, that NetApp won't be making them itself.

How, then, to consider this new product?

Think EVO: RAIL meets FlexPod is the way our mind is working; FlexRAIL? NetApp says it is shipped as a pre-integrated system, by VARs we suppose, can be deployed in minutes and has unified management, all characteristic of single box appliances.

NetApp says the NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL (NIER - our acronym) offering "integrates with both the enterprise data centre and public clouds," which means, we think, through ONTAP which can manage data in Amazon's cloud.

NIER will be available and shipping in 1H CY2015 via a pre-integrated system including hardware, software and support. There is no further information on NetApp's website. ®


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