NetApp Makes Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Play With VMware EVO: RAIL

NetApp on Wednesday got into the hyper-converged infrastructure game with a new offering that combines the VMware EVO: RAIL software stack with NetApp's storage and software.

The new NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL solution will be complementary to the FlexPod converged infrastructure reference architecture that NetApp currently offers with its longtime partner Cisco, said Adam Fore, NetApp's director of solutions marketing.

"We will continue to grow and expand FlexPod," Fore told CRN. "FlexPod continues to address a wide range of environments. FlexPod works more in the enterprise data center and large offices, while EVO: RAIL is more for department and branch office deployment outside the core data center."

[Related: Dell Extends Nexenta Software-Defined Storage To VMware EVO: RAIL]

Sponsored post

The NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL solution does not cannibalize FlexPod sales. Rather, it addresses a specific need for all-in-one solutions, Fore said.

"It shouldn't impact our relationship with Cisco," he said. "If you look at the FlexPod innovation and road map, it's accelerating."

NetApp's positioning of its new EVO: RAIL offering vs. FlexPod makes sense, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp partner.

"EVO: RAIL is more like Nutanix and SimpliVity, which are more targeted for remote office environments, small-scale deployments and, maybe, VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure]," Woodall told CRN. "Working with VMware's EVO: RAIL gives NetApp a play in the hyper-converged infrastructure market, something it has not had to date. And it expands on NetApp's good relationship with VMware."

Woodall said he does not expect NetApp's EVO: RAIL offering to impact NetApp's longtime Cisco relationship.

"Cisco is one of the few, if not the only, server vendors not partnering with EVO: RAIL," he said. "There could be some cases where either FlexPod or EVO: RAIL could fit, and might have some impact on the deal. But no one can afford to be overly wedded to any one solution. If there's an overlap, you deal with it and move on."

The real overlap could come later when VMware releases its EVO: RACK hyper-converged infrastructure software stack, Woodall said. "EVO: RACK, over time, may be more competitive with FlexPod," he said. "It's much more scalable."

NEXT: More On The NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL Solution

The Integrated : RAIL solution combines VMware's EVO: RAIL software stack with NetApp's FAS2552storage appliance, NetApp's Data Ontap storage operating system, and a white box server built by one of NetApp's current providers, Fore said.

Fore cautioned that NetApp providing a server as part of the NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL solution does not mean the company will become a server vendor. "You can't source servers from us independently," he said. "They are being sold only as part of a complete solution."

NetApp is bringing its own differentiation to the EVO: RAIL ecosystem with its Data Ontap software, Fore said. "It brings SnapMirror to move data to the core, and SnapVault to archive data," he said. "Customers will have access to the same services they get from NetApp's other offerings."

NetApp expects its NetApp Integrated EVO: RAIL solution to be available sometime during the first quarter of 2015.