EMC VSPEX Blue: My take

Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard about EMC’s Hyper-converged platform announcement that occurred at VMware PEX. I failed to have a post ready to go out the day of announcement for a couple reasons. First I wanted to get some more info, while the team I am on at EMC has received several behind the scenes briefings and I have provided NDA briefs to partners, there are always changes between “projects” and “GA Products”. Before we get to the technical details a couple quick business points, VSPEX Blue will only be sold through EMC Channel partners and not through EMC direct. EMC is leveraging our distributors to configure and quote pricing to partners for the end user sales. This means that I am not privy to, nor will I be discussing pricing in this blog post. With that out of the way let’s get to the meat of this.

VSPEXBLUEI previously posted about Project Mystic, which was the code name for VSPEX Blue. The solution is based off of VMware’s EVO:Rail platform and leverages EMC whitebox nodes that are the same being used in our Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) box.

Each appliance is 2U and contains 4 nodes; each node has the following HW footprint:


  • 2x Intel Ivy Bridge E5-2620 V2 (12 cores, 2.1 Ghz)
  • 2x 10GbE BaseT or SFP+
  • 1x 1GbE Lights Out Management
  • 2 Memory Configs 128Gb (8x16GB 1666MHz DIMMS) or 192GB (6x32GB 1333MHz DIMMs)
  • 3x 1.2TB 2.5” 10k RPM SASHDD
  • 1x 400GB 2.5” SAS SSD (VSAN Cache)
  • 1x 32GB SLC SATADOM (ESXi Boot Image)

Storage wise this works out to 14.4TB (RAW), with an N+1 VSAN sees a 50% overhead so we will see ~7TB usable.

Since EVO:Rail is an OEM only solution each manufacturer is given some license to get creative with it. This is where I think EMC sets itself apart from the competition. VSPEX Blue Manager is an installed component that allows for HW\SW and VM management. It’s a bit of a buff job on the EVO:Rail manager that was shown at VMworld last year. In addition EMC is wrapping 3 yrs HW\SW support around each appliance, with a single vendor to throttle if something happens. So you pick up the line and talk to the Award winning support team at EMC.

Of course since it is EVO:Rail you also get vSphere Enterprise + licenses for every node purchased, a vCenter License, and a Log Insight license.

But like any good evangelist I would be remiss if I didn’t say but wait there’s more. With each 2U appliance you also get 15 VM licenses for Recover Point for Virtual Machines (RP4VMs), and 10Tb of Cloud Array cloud based storage. As well you will have access to the VSPEX Blue App Store where EMC will be publishing more downloadable goodness as well as license and support management capabilities.

So what’s the catch, well at GA VSPEX Blue will only scale to 4 appliances, that’s nodes for the math impaired. It is only scalable in 2U appliance form factor, which means if you need to add another node you are going +1 appliance. That shouldn’t scare anyone though because odds are with this type of platform that you will quickly leverage the remaining capacity. At GA Horizon View licenses will be sold separately though this isn’t different than any other Hyper Converged platform on the market today, and Horizon licenses can be added via a la carte to not include the ESXi licenses that are bundled with the suite. Lastly, it’s a matter of economics at scale, not that I am bashing Hyper Converged mind you but the inevitable issue is the need to scale storage or compute independently. Cloud Array helps to answer part of that but the other side may need to burst into vCloud Air or other cloud compute structures.

Cloud Array is a cool feature that enables us to provide Block/File and File services through a virtual appliance that connects to a variety of service providers and can also be configured to leverage IP based storage within a data center. With Cloud Array’s dynamic disk cache latency and maintenance consistencies are also handled ensuring consistent performance.

In addition to all of this EMC’s backup and recovery solutions like Avamar and Data Domain will work seamlessly with VSPEX Blue to ensure data integrity, and couple that with the Recover Point for VMs and you get a sweet replication and DR solution for the appliance deployment.

This platform has a pretty awesome future too, with plans to double the number of appliances in a clustered group and continual additions to the VSPEX Blue app marketplace. I still think this is a limited use case market based on scale, I can see this as a ROBO (remote office\branch office) deployment, small VDI solutions (GA has a 1000 Desktop max per 4 appliance cluster), or for small VMware environments, maybe tactical use cases as well for governments and first responders. With that said EVO:Rack has a lot of promise but I can’t\won’t get into that until around VMworld this year.

So what do you think about VSPEX Blue?