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VMware Cloud Foundation, vSAN highlight VMworld 2017 news

At VMworld 2017, Dell EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and Lenovo launched new and upgraded hyper-converged and hybrid cloud products based on VMware's vSAN and Cloud Foundation software.

Dell EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and Lenovo launched new or upgraded hyper-converged and hybrid cloud products based on VMware Cloud Foundation and vSAN software this week at VMworld 2017.

Dell EMC said it plans to offer refreshed VxRail Appliance and VxRack SDDC hyper-converged systems combining compute, storage and VMware virtualization. Dell EMC also updated its Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and Native Hybrid Cloud turnkey hybrid cloud storage products and unveiled pretested VMware Ready Systems for IT pros who want to deploy and configure their own systems.

Hitachi Data Systems, or HDS, disclosed plans for a new Unified Compute Platform (UCP) rack-scale software-defined data center (SDDC) product based on VMware Cloud Foundation and added support for nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) and sixth-generation Intel Xeon processors in its UCP HC hyper-converged systems.

Lenovo introduced a new addition to its ThinkAgile portfolio of integrated appliances and systems based on VMware vSAN storage software. The ThinkAgile VX Series preconfigured hyper-converged infrastructure appliance is due to ship in November.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said traditional hardware vendors are moving to embrace the fast-growing hyper-converged and converged markets. So far, they have had various degrees of success.

"The competitive landscape is more complex today than it was a year or so ago," King wrote in an email. "We've seen Lenovo's data center group reorganize and launch a completely refreshed IT infrastructure portfolio, and Dell continuing to succeed in its efforts to integrate assets from the EMC acquisition and expand on those solutions."

"At the same time, HPE [Hewlett Packard Enterprise] and Cisco have both faced considerable challenges, including faltering data center sales," King added. "The former's problems seem related to the company's ongoing reorganization and asset shuffling. The latter seems to have lost the flair that sparked substantial growth. Given Dell EMC's decision in June to discontinue its Vblock platform, which utilized Cisco's UCS [Unified Computing System] servers and switches, in favor of its VxBlock, I expect the pressure on Cisco to continue."

Dell EMC's VMworld storage news

In September, Dell EMC plans to start taking orders for VxRail Appliances with the latest VxRail 4.5, performance-improving VMware vSphere 6.5 update 1 (U1) and vSAN 6.6 update 1 software. Dell EMC jointly engineers its VxRail Appliances with Dell Technologies' VMware subsidiary. VxRail customers will be able to upgrade to VxRail 4.5 in the fourth quarter, according to Dell EMC.

The competitive landscape is more complex today than it was a year or so ago.
Charles Kingprincipal analyst, Pund-IT

New capabilities with the updated VxRail hyper-converged appliances include batch multinode scaling to enable automated deployments beyond a single appliance, support for REST-based APIs to ease software upgrades to an entire VxRail cluster and built-in data-at-rest encryption through vSAN 6.6.

VxRack SDDC bundles the latest VMware Cloud Foundation 2.2 software, which combines vSphere 6.5 U1 server virtualization, vSAN 6.6 storage, NSX 6.3.1 network virtualization, vCenter 6.5 and updated SDDC Manager. By the end of September, customers will be able to choose the new 14th-generation Dell EMC PowerEdge server hardware, with expanded CPU and higher-capacity 3.84 TB flash storage drives.

Updates to Dell EMC's Enterprise Hybrid Cloud IT-as-a-service offering enable the expansion of VxRail-based deployments to up to four sites, as well as facilitate accelerated deployment of VxRack SDDC-based installations and add support for Microsoft Azure.

Dell EMC Native Hybrid Cloud added high availability options on VxRail and new Workbench access testing and deployment management tools designed for developers new to the Pivotal Cloud Foundry on which the product is based. Dell EMC also announced that NHC built on VxRack SDDC is currently available through an early access program and will be generally available next year.


HDS collaborated with VMware on its new turnkey Hitachi UCP rack-scale (RS) system based on VMware Cloud Foundation software. The factory-built and tested UCP RS models are designed to enable customers to get up and running quickly, and a do-it-yourself option lets customers build their own system using Hitachi's vSAN Ready Node and VMware software.

UCP RS is available in all-flash and hybrid models that can scale from four to 256 nodes across eight racks. The hybrid UCP RS V210 enables per-node raw capacity from 12 TB to 60 TB, or 384 TB to 1,920 TB per rack. The all-flash UCP RS V210F offers per-node raw capacity of 4 TB to 38 TB, or 128 TB to 1,216 TB per rack.

The prepackaged UCP RS combines the following:

Hitachi provides end-to-end support.

Chris Gugger, director of infrastructure solutions marketing at HDS, said the new model will upgrade from Intel's Broadwell processors to the latest Skylake processors.

HDS enhanced its UCP HC hyper-converged system support for NVMe and Skylake-based servers. The all-flash UCP HC V120F model offers NVMe-based PCI Express SSD cache options of 800 GB and 1.6 TB. The NVMe card is strictly for cache use in the initial release, with SAS-based SSDs for capacity, according to HDS. Use cases for the NVMe-based UCP HC include online transaction processing, analytics, online trading and oilfield research.

The UCP HC product family, combining VMware vSAN and Hitachi software, includes both hybrid and all-flash models. The raw per-node capacity of the all-flash options ranges from 4 TB to 38 TB, or up to an estimated 100 TB after deduplication and compression. The raw per-node capacity of the hybrid models starts at 3.6 TB and goes up to 60 TB. The maximum number of nodes per cluster is 64 with the flash and hybrid configurations.

Lenovo ThinkAgile VX Series

Lenovo's ThinkAgile VX Series hyper-converged products combine the company's ThinkSystem servers, management capabilities and vSAN 6.6.

ThinkAgile VX clusters require a minimum of three nodes. The 1U and 2U single-node ThinkAgile VX 3000 models are tailored for compute-heavy workloads, such as virtual desktop infrastructure. The denser 2U single-node VX 5000 Series is designed for applications needing high-capacity storage, including email, big data and analytics. The 2U single-node VX 7000 Series targets high-performance workloads, such as databases and collaboration applications.

Radhika Krishnan, vice president and general manager of software-defined infrastructure for Lenovo's data center group, said Lenovo already sold vSAN Ready Nodes that supported vSAN. She said customers asked for a turnkey appliance directly from Lenovo, with a "single throat to choke" for support.

The ThinkAgile VX Series for VMware vSAN will be available starting Nov. 17, according to Lenovo.

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