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EMC VxRAIL Overview

The hyper-converged VxRail Appliance features a clustered node architecture that consolidates compute, storage, and management into a single, resilient, network-ready HCI unit. The software-defined architectural structure converges server and storage resources, allowing a scale-out, building-block approach, and each appliance carries management as an integral component. From a hardware perspective, the VxRail node is a server with integrated direct-attached storage. No external network components are included with the appliance; VxRail leaves that up to the customer (although VCE can bundle switch hardware and NSX can function as an integrated option for SDN). This allows the VxRack to seamlessly integrate into the existing network infrastructure, preserving existing investment in network infrastructure, processes, and training. Organizations benefit from the simplicity of the appliance architecture that expedites application deployment while providing the same data services expected from high-end systems.

  • The Appliance architecture design center is “simple.” VxRail is simple to acquire, deploy, operate, scale, and maintain.
  • The Appliance system-level architecture uses SDS and multi-node servers with integrated storage and can leverage whatever network infrastructure is available. Appliance architecture provides low-cost and low-capacity entry points with simple configurations that can easily scale.
  • Appliance-architecture workload and business requirements focus on simplicity and the ability to start small and grow easily. VDI and productivity applications are examples of the initial workloads deployed in appliances.

When you combine these technologies you get hyper-converged infrastructure, which integrates compute, software defined storage, networking, and virtualization into a single build block for the data center. It enables compute, storage, and networking functions to be decoupled from the underlying infrastructure and run on a common set of physical resources that are based on industry-standard x86 components.


Hyperconverged storage solutions require the installation of a virtual storage appliance on each host. However, in the case of VSAN, because it is embedded in the ESXi kernel, all the Virtual SAN intelligence are already built in to the hypervisor and there are no additional components to install.

Because it is embedded in the hypervisor VSAN provides the shortest path for I/O, making storage operations optimally efficient and does not consume CPU resources unnecessarily. Even during maintenance operations and VM migrations, storage operations are seamlessly handled.

VxRail VSAN provides the software defined storage layer. There are several benefits to VSAN but the primary 2 main reasons VSAN is ideal for a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance are as follows:

1.Kernel Integration – The software controlling the storage is integrated into the hypervisor. Why is this so important? The alternative to kernel integration is using a Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) where the storage system must run separately as a guest virtual machine (VM) on top of the hypervisor as opposed to being a part of it. The issue with these types of implementations is that the VSA VMs content with resources against the workloads being supported. The VSA requires a lot of tuning and balancing to get it optimized to off-set I/O contention such that workloads can perform optimally which requires expertise and can be time consuming and a challenging exercise

2.Storage Based Policy Management (SBPM) – When making a decision to deploy a software defined data center (SDDC) approach it is very important that any platform you consider have the capability of enforcing top down policies between the various virtual layers (compute, storage, network) and provide control over the service objectives in all of these layers. VSAN enables the setting of storage policies at the kernel layer with seamless integration higher up in the management and orchestration layer such as with the vRealize Suite or those provided via 3rd party tools so that when services are rendered all of the associated services and their attributes cascade throughout the infrastructure. SBPB provides top to bottom control of how the workloads perform in the appliance.

  • Technical advantages: VSAN code is in the vSphere kernel
  • No need to install Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA)
  • CPU utilization <10%
  • No reserved memory required
  • Provides the shortest path for I/O
  • Seamlessly handles VM migrations
  • Operational advantages: VSAN is built with and for vSphere Storage Policy Based Management
  • No new management console
  • No planning out or carving up disk pools
  • Virtual SAN self-tunes to keep policy compliance

VSAN is integrated into Kernel of vSphere

  • More efficient and performant than a Virtual Storage Appliance

Storage Policy Based Management

  • Storage policies are directly embedded onto storage object
  • Data protection, Performance/QoS, Data Reduction
  • Policies follow your virtual machine
  • Seamlessly integrated with vRealize

VxRail Appliance software is customer upgradeable via a fully automated and validated process as of VxRail 4.0 software. The software upgrade is initiated via download from VxRail Manager, and it automatically downloads all software ready to be updated including VxRail Manager VM, vCenter Server and PSC, ESXi hosts, and ESRS. The automated process consists of four steps including download of the VxRail software, a readiness check, the actual update of the software, and finally, validation and upgrade post checks. The final validation step ensures the upgrade was successful, and the VxRail Appliance is fully functional at the new, upgraded version of software. Below diagram shows the four automated steps of a customer executed VxRail Appliance software upgrade. Step 3 is performed one node at a time, where the ESXi host is placed in maintenance mode, and using vMotion, the VMs are moved to other nodes making the upgrade process non-disruptive. To do this automatically vSphere Enterprise Edition Plus is required. If the VxRail appliance is not currently running VxRail 3.5 or using vSphere Standard Edition license, services are required to perform the upgrade. (It is best to verify with Dell EMC services that an environment meets the requirements prior to an upgrade.)

Each VxRail are included the following features,

  • VMware vSphere Replication
  • Dell EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines
  • Integrated Backup and Recovery with vSphere Data Protection (VDP)
  • VMware Stretched Cluster

EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure appliances installation

VxRail Cluster Expansion – Scaling Out

EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machine Overview

EMC RecoverPoint For VMs 5.0 Deployment

EMC vRPVM Cluster configuration

Categories: EMC

Victor Wu

Senior Solutions Architect, Storage & Virtualization, Author at Dell EMC Knowledge Sharing & Packt

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