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By | Simon Sharwood 11th February 2016 08:38

EVO:FAIL as VMware quietly shelves its EVO:RAIL recipe

VSAN's the man from now on, but there may be another plan

VMware launched VSAN 6.2 yesterday, proclaiming it as the company's new hyperconverged software – and repeating the claim that VSAN adoption makes it number one in the hyperconverged market.

Which is all well and good, save for the fact there's one thing missing: namely, EVO:RAIL, the software-defined recipe for roll-your-own hyperconverged appliances.

EVO:RAIL was launched in August 2014 and refreshed last year.

The Register can reveal that EVO:RAIL is being quietly shunted into the background. It's not been formally cancelled, but links to it are disappearing from and VSAN will take over the mantle as VMware's hyperconverged champion.

Gaetan Castelei, VMware's senior director of product marketing and management for the software-defined data centre told The Register that “In the future, most focus will be VSAN ready nodes and the federation appliance.”

VSAN ready nodes are the servers VMware certifies as fit to run VSAN. That appliance is almost certainly the VxRail we spotted last week.

“We found a lot of customers that wanted something between ready nodes and appliances,” Castelei told The Register. VSAN becomes that something.

As ready nodes are servers and VSAN needs ESXi, they can run whatever workload you choose. VMware is therefore changing ready node licensing so that server-makers can pre-load hypervisor licences, thereby making it easier to use ready nodes as general purpose servers that also happen to run a software SAN.

VMware will also allow customers to bring their own licences to ready nodes, an arrangement it only grudgingly allowed on EVO:RAIL and which retarded the product in its early days.

“EVO:RAIL was maybe a bit too restrictive,” Castelei admitted. “WE had more success with ready nodes than EVO:RAIL. This will let OEMs package things in ways that customers want.”

EVO:RAIL had a short and unhappy life. VMware got the hardware sizing wrong and messed up the licensing. HP bailed out of the program before striking a blow in anger, and we've seen precious little evidence of significant sales.

The Register understands EVO:RAIL's idea of making vSphere and vCenter more accessible by putting an easier-to-understand interface over the top of the pair hasn't been abandoned. If VxRail is indeed the EMC Federation's next hyperconverged baby, surely the use of the word “rail” signifies something.

We'll know for sure next week. ®

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