5 Reasons Why VMware Says It's Poised To Dominate In Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Sky Isn't Falling

VMware's EVO:RAIL hyper-converged infrastructure technology, which it's selling through a collection of eight server hardware partners, hasn't been setting the world on fire in terms of sales, according to partners.

Hewlett-Packard, which has reportedly never been keen on selling EVO:RAIL, recently dropped out of the program.

Nonetheless, Mornay van der Walt, vice president of VMware's EVO:RAIL Group, told CRN in a recent interview that VMware is uniquely positioned to be a hyper-converged powerhouse.

While it's true that Nutanix and SimpliVity have tons of funding and claim to have lots of customer momentum, VMware sees the hyper-converged space as its game to lose, in large part because it owns technology that allows the mix of servers, storage, networking and virtualization to function.

VMware's van der Walt outlined several reasons why his company is poised to dominate the hyper-converged space, and following are five examples.

1. No One Else Has vSphere And VSAN

VMware's van der Walt told CRN that the EVO:RAIL effort has been "going strong" since the vendor first unveiled it last year at VMworld. "We've got a lot momentum and it's really about the trusted foundation" of vSphere server virtualization and Virtual SAN (VSAN) storage virtualization, he said.

Basically, van der Walt's point is that the whole hyper-converged infrastructure market revolves around vSphere, and none of the other vendors out there have an answer for VSAN, which pools storage from server hard drives and makes it available to virtual machines.

"Just as we became the de facto standard with the hypervisor through legacy converged and with hyper-converged, we believe the de facto standard over time in hyper-converged will be vSphere plus Virtual SAN," van der Walt said.

2. VMware EVO:RAIL Offers Better Performance Than Nutanix, SimpliVity

The fact that VMware owns vSphere and VSAN means it can integrate these technologies more tightly than other hyper-converged vendors like Nutanix and SimpliVity, according to van der Walt.

"Nutanix and SimpliVity are great partners because at the end of the day they're promoting vSphere sales," said van der Walt. But Nutanix and SimpliVity and others in the space have to run their storage systems as guests on top of the VMware hypervisor, creating performance challenges, said van der Walt.

"Architecturally, there are some challenges just from a latency point of view," van der Walt said.

3. EVO:RAIL Is More Than Just A Storage Appliance

VMware is pitching EVO:RAIL as a "balanced appliance" that includes proportionate amounts of compute, networking, storage and management, van der Walt said.

Some of VMware's hyper-converged partners are touting storage-heavy appliances or ones optimized for specific types of workloads, but that's not what VMware has in mind, according to van der Walt.

"This is not a storage appliance. This is a hyper-converged, core-virtualization platform," he said of EVO:RAIL. "If you just want pure storage, you can do VSAN Ready Nodes, which can be scaled out in a way that make them very storage-heavy [and allow customers to] replace entire SANs."

4. No One Else Has NSX Software-Defined Networking

While current versions of EVO:RAIL don't come with VMware's NSX software-defined networking, van der Walt said the technology is poised to give the vendor a leg up on the competition.

The 1.0 version of EVO:RAIL includes virtual switches, which act like physical switches on ESX hosts, but the next version will include the vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS), which sets the stage for NSX to be used, said van der Walt.

"The VDS is the foundation that enables NSX, so as we look to the next release of EVO:RAIL, ... now we're giving customers even more choice," van der Walt said. "There are going to be some larger customers that have already bought into NSX, and are deploying it, and they'll want to take that same operating model and put it on the edge."

5. Pricing Is Competitive With Public Clouds

VMware's EVO:RAIL partners set their own pricing for the appliances they sell, and van der Walt said these range from $135,000 to $165,000.

If the price of an EVO:RAIL appliance is $150,000, and a customer has 100 virtual machines on it, over 36 months that works out to 6 cents per hour for hardware, software and support, according to van der Walt.

VMware has made EVO:RAIL even more attractive with its vSphere Loyalty Program, which lets customers use the vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses they've already bought in their VMware EVO:RAIL appliances.

With three years of support, the program knocks down the price of an EVO:RAIL appliance to between $90,000 and $125,000, said van der Walt. VMware has added a one-year licensing option that brings that price down to around $75,000, he added.

"You'd be very hard pressed, today, to go and find a public cloud that could give you those type of economics for a VM that's built on a trusted foundation of vSphere and VSAN at those price points," said van der Walt.