EMC today announced their VSPEX BLUE offering and I thought I’d share some pictures and words from the briefing I received recently. PowerPoint presentations always look worse when I distil them down to a long series of dot points, so I’ll try and add some colour commentary along the way. Please note that I’m only going off EMC’s presentation, and haven’t had an opportunity to try the solution for myself. Nor do I know what the pricing is like. Get in touch with your local EMC representative or partner if you want to know more about that kind of thing.
EMC describe VSPEX BLUE as “an all-inclusive, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance, powered by VMware EVO:RAIL software”. Which seems like a nice thing to have in the DC. With VSPEX BLUE, the key EMC message is simplicity:
- Simple to order – purchase with a single SKU
- Simple to configure – through an automated, wizard driven interface
- Simple to manage – with the new VSPEX BLUE Manager
- Simple to scale – with automatic scale-out, where new appliances are automatically discovered and easily added to a cluster with a few mouse clicks
- Simple to support – with EMC 24 x 7 Global support offering a single point of accountability for all hardware and software, including all VMware software
It also “eliminates the need for advanced infrastructure planning” by letting you “start with one 2U/4-node appliance and scale up to four”.
Awwww, this guy seems sad. Maybe he doesn’t believe that the hyperconverged unicorn warriors of the data centre are here to save us all from ourselves.
I imagine the marketing line would be something like “IT is hard, but you don’t need to be blue with VSPEX BLUE”.
VSPEX BLUE Software
- VSPEX BLUE Manager extends hardware monitoring, and integrates with EMC Connect Home and online support facilities.
- VSPEX BLUE Market offers value-add EMC software products included with VSPEX BLUE.
VMware EVO:RAIL Engine
- Automates cluster deployment and configuration, as well as scale-out and non-disruptive updates
- Simple design with a clean interface, pre-sized VM templates and single-click policies
Resilient Cluster Architecture
- VSAN distributed datastore provides consistent and resilient fault tolerance
- VMotion provides system availability during maintenance and DRS load balances workloads
Software-defined data center (SDDC) building block
- Combines compute, storage, network and management resources into a single virtualized software stack with vSphere and VSAN
While we live in a software-defined world, the hardware is still somewhat important. EMC is offering 2 basic configurations to keep ordering and buying simple. You getting it yet? It’s all very simple.
- VSPEX BLUE Standard which comes with 128GB of memory per node; or
- VSPEX BLUE Performance comes with 192GB of memory per node.
Each configuration has a choice of a 1GbE copper or 10GbE fibre network interface. Here’re some pretty pictures of what the chassis looks like, sans EMC bezel. Note the similarities with EMC’s ECS offering.
Processors (per node)
- Intel Ivy Bridge (up to 130W)
- Dual processor
Memory/processors (per node)
- Four channels of Native DDR3 (1333)
- Up to eight DDR3 ECC R-DIMMS per server node
Inputs/outputs (I/Os) (per node)
- Dual GbE ports
- Optional IB QDR/FDR or 10GbE integrated
- 1 x 8 PCIe Gen3 I/O Mezz Option (Quad GbE or Dual 10GbE)
- 1 x 16 PCIe Gen3HBA slots
- Integrated BMC with RMM4 support
- 2U chassis supporting four hot swap nodes with half-width MBs
- 2 x 1200W (80+ & CS Platoinum) redundant hot-swap PS
- Dedicated cooling/node (no SPoF) – 3 x 40mm dual rotor fans
- Front panel with separate power control per node
- 17.24” x 30.35” x 3.46”
- Integrated 4-Port SATA/SAS controller (SW RAID)
- Up to 16 (four per node) 2.5” HDD
The VSPEX BLUE Standard configuration consists of four independent nodes consisting of the following:
- 2 x Intel Dual Intel Ivy Bridge E5-2620 V2 (12 cores, 2.1 Ghz)
- 8 x 16GB (128GB) , 1666MHz DIMMS Memory
- 3 x 1.2TB 2.5” 10K RPM SASHDD
- 1 x 400GB 2.5” SAS SSD (VSAN Cache)
- 1 x 32GB SLC SATADOM (ESXi Boot Image)
- 2 x 10GBE BaseT or SFP+
The Performance configuration only differs from the standard in the amount of memory it contains, going from 128GB in the standard configuration to 192GB in the performance model, ideal for applications such as VDI.
VSPEX BLUE Manager
EMC had a number of design goals for the VSPEX BLUE Manager product, including:
- Simplified the support experience
- Embedded ESRS/VE
- Seamless integration with EVO:RAIL and its facilities
- The implementation of a management framework that allows driving EMC value-add software as services
- Extended management orchestration for other use cases
- Enablement of the VSPEX partner ecosystem
Software Inventory Management
- Displays installed software versions
- Discovers and downloads software updates
- Automated, non-disruptive software upgrades
In my mind, this is the key bit of value-add that EMC offer with VSPEX BLUE – seeing what else is going on outside of EVO:RAIL.
- Provides information not available in EVO:RAIL
- Maps alerts to graphical representation of hardware configuration
- Displays detailed configuration of hardware parts for field services
- Aggregates health monitoring from vCenter and hardware BMC IPMI
- Integrates with ESRS Connect Home for proactive notification and problem resolution
- Integrates with eServices online support resources
- Automatically collects diagnostic logs and ingrates with vRealize Log Insight
RecoverPoint for VMs
I’m a bit of a fan of RecoverPoint for VMs. The VSPEX BLUE appliance includes an EMC Recoverpoint for VMs license entitling 15 VMs with support for free. The version shipping with this solution also no longer requires storage external to VMware VSAN to store replica and journal volumes.
- Protect VMs at VM-level granularity
- Asynchronous and synchronous replication
- Consistency group for application-consistent recovery
- vCenter plug-in integration
- Discovery, provisioning, and orchestration of DR workflow management
- WAN compression and deduplication to optimize bandwidth utilization
One final thing to note – VMware ELAs not supported. VSPEX BLUE is an all-inclusive SKU, so you can’t modify support options, licensing, etc. But the EVO:RAIL thing was never really a good option for people who want that kind of ability to tinker with configurations.
Based on the briefing I received, the on-paper specs, and the general thought that seems to have gone into the overall delivery of this product, it all looks pretty solid. I’ll be interested to see if any of my customers will be deploying this in the wild. If you’re hyperconverged-curious and want to look into this kind of thing then the EMC VSPEX BLUE may well be just the thing for you.