During my last #IMO on EVO:RAIL I asked myself the question how vendors are going to differentiate on those standardised / hyper-converged solutions:

  • pricing: Make or Buy – the good old discussion within the economics hits us again. EVO:RAIL Vendors will try to figure out how the market will react on the hyper-converged solution. evo:rail_apex The implementation (cost-) block is always aligned with a certain risk level (bad external service provider, human mistakes). This risk is somehow mitigated by using the EVO-engine for the implementation/configuration task. But since the hyper-converged market is pretty new our vendors and their shareholders are expecting a higher margin out of it. The vendors will learn their lesson and their (EVO) margin will decrease within the next years. Howard Marks did a nice analysis on the pricing part of EVO:RAIL. Let’s wait how the real-price will differ from the list-price.
  • vendor-support
  • vendor specific software and bundles: This is a very interesting topic, since a lot of companies currently try to bundle EVO:RAIL with specific Software packages (for Management/Monitoring) or even hardware (Storage). I try to summarise the main differences within the next lines according to the current public information.

Dell

Dell has announced to bundle its EVO:RAIL solution with the software-defined storage (SDS) solution of NexentaStor. NexentaStor offers a storage solution based on the ZFS filesystem.

So the big question is, why combining VMware’s SDS vSAN with a another SDS solution? The Nexenta part should not be seen as a substitute for vSAN. It offers more like an added functionality by offering NFS (v3,v4), SMB, Snapshot, Deduplication solutions integrated into the vSphere Management via NexentaConnect. This might IMO be a useful extension for very specific use cases.

Besides to the Nexenta integration DELL has announced to offer a VDI package for EVO:RAIL (haven’t I asked for it? 😉 ). If this solution will include VMware Horizon View or DELL’s vWorkspace (QUEST) into it is not been officially been announced.

Functional Advantage Level (none-low-medium-high): medium

NetApp

It was kind of a surprise when NetApp has announced that they are going to provide EVO:RAIL solutions as well. NetApp bundles their FAS solution (based on ONTAP) within the EVO:RAIL solution and offers new storage capabilities to the vSphere environment. As with Nexenta you will be able to extend the EVO:RAIL functionality with features like NFS, SMB, Dedupliaction, etc. But not like Nexenta NetApp is integrating a dedicated FAS-unit into the EVO:RAIL solution.

The big question is: will it bring real benefit to us if we now need to manage two storage systems (ok vSAN doesn’t need to be managed that often) while at the same time the price for the FAS solution will most certain be somehow added to the customer in the end. Without any concrete use-cases I am not that sure if customers are willing to pay a higher amount for the NetApp EVOs

Functional Advantage Level (none-low-medium-high): medium

EMC

The EVO:RAIL solution of EMC will be based on EMC’s Phoenix Foundation (Didn’t MacGyver worked for them?) . To differentiate themselves EMC is planning to integrate/bundle their own Data Protection Software (vSphere Data Protection Advance (integration with EMC’s Data Domain?) and/or Recovery Point as a Desaster Recovery technology).

Functional Advantage Level (none-low-medium-high): low

Fujitsu

Fujitsu’s EVO:RAIL are based on the CX400 S2 nodes which are advertising themselves with a higher temperature tolerance. According to the official notes the CX400 S2 has an ambient temperature between 10-35 degrees Celsius, which value might increase to 40 degrees Celsius within the next EVO:RAIL generation. This is definitely an interesting approach, since reduced cooling costs within a datacenter are always welcome.

So we see Fujitsu is trying to differentiate themselves with an improvement of their x86 nodes. I am honestly not sure how much money a company will safe in the end by using Fujitsu hardware. Even if I would know that my hardware tolerates higher temperature, I am not that sure if I would decrease the overall temperature within my datacenter.

Functional Advantage Level (none-low-medium-high): none

HP

HP’s is attacking the hyper-converged market with 2 solutions called HP’s ConvergedSystem 200. Based on the same components one version is an EVO:RAIL solution, while the other version based on HP’s own scale-out storage solution Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA).

HP tries to differentiate to the other vendors by integrating EVO:RAIL into their OneView management solution. As a consequence EVO:RAILs can be managed in the same way as the other HP components.

Functional Advantage Level (none-low-medium-high): low-medium

For the following companies I have not found/received further information so far. I will update the post as soon as I have new information on it.

INSPUR

Inspire is the first partner for VMware EVO:RAIL in china. Until now I was not able to gather any further information about the way the way INSPUR will differentiate in the existing eco systems. But since the market in China is more regulated than others, a differentiation is not even that necessary.

Hitachi

More Information are hopefully coming

net one

More Information are hopefully coming

SUPERMICRO

More Information are hopefully coming

 

Comparing just the functional benefit of each EVO:RAIL vendor I don’t believe that those functionalities will convince customer to pay additional buckets. IMO Vendors will need to work harder on bringing functional benefit to their own EVO:RAIL solution.

In the end I believe that the existing vendor relationship and the pricing will be the most important factor. And this is exactly something the year 2015 will show us how the market will react.