VxRail is a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) appliance solution that combines VMware’s vSAN software with vSphere and vCenter, running on clustered, Dell EMC PowerEdge servers. This product, first released in 2016, leverages the on-going advancements of VMware’s vSAN technology.
VxRail uses a modular, scale-out architecture of 1U and 2U appliance chassis each containing one or four server nodes. VxRail clusters are comprised of at least three and as many as sixty-four nodes and can be scaled non-disruptively by adding appliances. Two nodes can also be direct-connected for smaller environments. Each node is configured with 2.5” drive formfactor SSDs and 2.5” or 3.5” HDDs (S Series only) in either hybrid or all-flash configurations.
vSAN offers mirroring (RAID 10) and single- and dual-parity (RAID 5/6) between nodes. It also has inline deduplication and compression, providing up to a 7x space reduction, according to the company. However, these data reduction features are only available on all-flash nodes and must be set on or off for the entire system, not by the volume or VM, as other products allow. VxRail has the same software characteristics as VMware’s vSAN product (for more information, see Evaluator Group Research on VMware vSAN).
vSAN is embedded in the VMware hypervisor kernel, allowing for more optimization of the data path and simpler management. This integration also leverages the features of vSphere, such as High Availability (HA), vMotion, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), Site Recovery Manager, vRealize Automation, etc.