VMware EVO:RAIL Overview

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Over the last 2 weeks the same VMware EVO:RAIL vs Nutanix questions keep popping up over and over again. I figured I would do a quick VMware EVO:RAIL Overview post so that I can compare with Nutanix or Simplivity.


What is EVO:RAIL?

EVO represents a new family of ‘Evolutionary’ Hyper-Converged Infrastructure offerings from VMware. RAIL represents the first product within the EVO family that will ship during the second half of 2014. EVO:RAIL is the next evolution of infrastructure building blocks for the SDDC. It delivers compute, storage and networking in a 2U / 4 node package with an intuitive interface that allows for full configuration within 15 minutes.

Minimum number of EVO:RAIL hosts?

Minimum number is 4 hosts. Each EVO: RAIL appliance has four independent nodes with dedicated computer, network, and storage resources and dual, redundant power supplies.

Each of the four EVO:RAIL nodes have (at a minimum):

  • Two Intel E5-2620 v2 six-core CPUs
  • 192GB of memory
  • One SLC SATADOM or SAS HDD as the ESXi™ boot device
  • Three SAS 10K RPM 1.2TB HDD for the VMware Virtual SAN™ datastore
  • One 400GB MLC enterprise-grade SSD for read/write cache
  • One Virtual SAN-certified pass-through disk controller
  • Two 10GbE NIC ports (configured for either 10GBase-T or SFP+ connections)
  • One 1GbE IPMI port for remote (out-of-band) management



Picture above is EVO:RAIL Hardware by Supermicro

What is VMware software included with an EVO:RAIL appliance?

  •  vSphere Enterprise Plus
  • vCenter Server
  • Virtual SAN
  • Log Insight
  • Support and Maintenance for 3 years

Total Storage Capacity per Appliances?

  • 14.4TB HDD capacity (approximately 13TB usable) per appliance, allocated to the Virtual SAN datastore for virtual machines
  • 1.6TB SSD capacity per appliance for read/write cache
  • Size of pre-provisioned management VM: 30GB

How many EVO:RAIL appliance can I scale to?

  • With current release EVO:RAIL scales to 4 appliance (16 Hosts)

Who are the EVO:RAIL partners?

  • The following partners were announced at VMworld: Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net One Systems, Supermicro
  • All support is through by OEM.


  •  EVO:RAIL runs on vCenter Server. vCenter Server is powered-on automatically when the appliance is started. EVO:RAIL uses the vCenter Server Appliance. You can use vCenter Web Client to manage VMs.

EVO:RAIL Networks

  • Each node in EVO:RAIL has 2 x 10GbE NIC (SFP+). This means there is 8 x 10GbE NIC per hosts.
  • IPv6 is required for configuration of the appliance and auto-discovery. Multicast traffic on L2 is required for Virtual SAN.
  • EVO: RAIL supports four types of traffic: Management, vSphere vMotion®, Virtual SAN, and Virtual Machine. Traffic isolation on separate VLANs is recommended for vSphere vMotion, Virtual SAN, and VMs. EVO: RAIL Version 1.0 does not put management traffic on a VLAN.


EVO:RAIL Deployment

EVO: RAIL deployment is simple, with just four steps:

  1. Step 1. Decide on EVO: RAIL network topology (VLANs and top-of-rack switch). Important instructions for your top-of-rack switch are provided in the EVO: RAIL User Guide.
  2. Step 2. Rack and cable: connect the 10GbE adapters on EVO: RAIL to the 10GbE top-of-rack switch.
  3. Step 3. Power on EVO: RAIL.
  4. Step 4. Connect a client workstation/laptop to the top-of-rack switch and configure the network address to talk to EVO: RAIL. Then browse1 to the EVO: RAIL IP address, for example https://ipaddress:7443.


The wizard asks questions about the host names, networking configuration (VLANs and IPs, etc.), passwords, and other things.


After completing the wizard, you get a snazzy little build process indicator that shows a high level workflow around what the engine is doing.


Once completed, you get a very happy completion screen that lets you log into EVO:RAIL’s management interface.


Once logged in, you are presented with a dashboard that contains data on the virtual machines, health of the system, configuration items, various tasks, and the ability to build more virtual machines.


The interface will allow you to manage virtual machines in an easy way.  It has pre-defined virtual machine sizes (small / medium / large) and even security profiles that can be applied to the virtual machine configuration!


EVO:RAIL provides you monitoring capabilities. Simple overview.




I’m quite impressed with the interface for EVO:RAIL, it uses HTML5 and is very simple and friendly to use.  Welcome to Hyper-Converged World. Next discussion, EVO:RAIL vs Nutanix.



3 thoughts on “VMware EVO:RAIL Overview

    Anonymous said:
    October 27, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    HP and Hitachi Data Systems now added to the EVO:RAIL roster

      iswarade responded:
      October 28, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Yes, they are. Thanks.

    […] read my other post for VMware EVO:RAIL and […]

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