VMware recently announced EVO:RAIL. A combination of server hardware, VMware software and vendor support bundled as an appliance. The use cases communicated by VMware are general purpose workloads, VDI, ROBO and Virtual Private Clouds.
The software of EVO:RAIL consists of vSphere 5.5 Enterprise Plus Edition, VSAN , vCenter Server Appliance and Log Insight. Combined with a nice HTML interface for initial configuration and daily management.
The image below shows the use cases for EVO:RAIL as communicated by VMware.
You might think: what about Tier 1 applications like Exchange Server, SQL Server and Oracle. Can I run those on EVO:RAIL?
So far VMware marketing & technical communication do not mention Tier 1 as a use case for EVO:RAIL. However on September 7 a Tweet by a VMware managed Twitter account mentioned running a Tier 1 app (Exchange) on EVO:RAIL.
I was surprised by that Tqeet as I had not heard ‘EVO:RAIL and Exchange ‘ mentioned in a single line.
The next day Duncan Epping of VMware who works on EVO:RAIL provided some insight on running Tier 1 apps EVO:RAIL in this post.
Basically Duncan says:
“Running Tier-1 applications on top of VSAN (or EVO:RAIL) is fully supported as it stands today however … your application requirements and your service level agreement will determine if EVO:RAIL or VSAN is a good fit.”
VMware targets potential customers for EVO:RAIL (and VSAN 1.0) initially for the use cases shown in the image above. As with any new technology customers will have to get faith into the solution. Only a few customers dared to run their business critical applications on VMware GSX Server when it was released in 2001. Even today there are people who have fear of running their Tier 1 apps on a hypervisor.
Another reason for VMware initially not having a priority marketing focus on running Tier 1 on EVO:RAIL is the lack of synchronous replication support by for instance Site Recovery Manager. Business critical applications typically require site resiliency.
Mind many such applications are not dependant on storage replication or other infrastructure based replication solutions to provide site resiliency. Exchange Server can use Stretched Database Availability Groups when running on vSphere. Actually a stretched DAG is the recommended way of protecting Exchange for site failures.
EVO:RAIL fully supports (in a technical context) any application including Tier 1 when supported by the vendor to run on VMware vSphere. If it is wise to run a Tier 1 application on EVO:RAIL mainly depends on application requirements and if additional tooling and features meet those requirements.