Partners See VCE's VxRail Hyper-Converged Appliance As 'Awesome' Competitor To Nutanix, SimpliVity

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Partners are praising VCE's new VxRail appliance as an all-in-one solution that takes serious competitive aim at Nutanix and SimpliVity, the start-up darlings of the burgeoning hyper-converged market.

VxRail, a hyper-converged appliance based on white box servers and new software from VMware, was introduced today and will begin shipping next month. The list price on the entry-level appliance is about $60,000, according to Todd Pavone, Chief Operating Office of VCE, the EMC Platforms Division. VCE, an EMC company, was recently renamed the EMC Converged Platforms Unit.

"VxRail is an awesome offering from VCE, one that easily targets the hyper-converged infrastructure market currently served by Nutanix and SimpliVity," said Jamie Shepard, senior vice president for healthcare and strategy at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and partner to both VCE and VMware.

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Pavone hesitates to pit VxRail against Nutanix or SimpliVity directly, saying instead that VxRail is intended for bigger, better things. "If I'm running SAP, I'm not going to put it on one of the start-ups' appliances," he said.

Pavone also said VxRail isn't intended as a direct competitor with public cloud powerhouses like Amazon Web Services. "We can burst out of the appliance to Virtustream or vCloud Air [EMC and VMware platforms, respectively] or to the public cloud, it's not a complete competitive approach against the public cloud. We see CIOs as the broker of workloads."

The appliance also makes sense in light of the pending acquisition of EMC by Dell in a $67 billion deal expected to close between May and October, said Geoff Woollacott, an analyst at Technology Business Research, Inc.

"Now they can pump that through the Dell supply chain to keep costs down," Woollacott said. "We know Dell allows for easy plug-and-play configuration of servers and laptops, and this can cascade down to CI and HCI [converged and hyper-converged infrastructure] boxes. They can also push this new capability through the existing EMC enterprise sales force for IT customers wanting to consume infrastructure rather than build it, and this will accelerate as the power of these converged boxes become more real and more proven."

"With VxRail, VCE intends to use the technology capabilities it's gained through its tight collaboration with Cisco to pivot to a broader set of use cases beyond Cisco-EMC boxes," Woollacott said. "They're able to do plug-and-play integrations from reference architectures and allow for workload-specific optimization."

Unlike EVO:Rail, EMC's previous hyper-converged infrastructure appliance based on VMware software, the VCE VxRail integrates several key storage services, Shepard told CRN.

"It comes integrated with EMC RecoverPoint," he said. "This lets us use RecoverPoint to replicate individual virtual machines, and not just an entire storage pool or volume. The target can be any storage device, which opens a whole new world for disaster recovery and the cloud."

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