Difference between VxRail and vSAN ReadyNodes

One of the questions I get asked very frequently when talking to customers revolves around the differences between VxRail and vSAN ReadyNodes.

Just to lay it out flatly, VxRail is an appliance that is jointly developed by Dell EMC and VMware. This appliance delivers a complete Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) experience for customers where components like vSphere, vSAN and vCenter have already been pre-installed on it.

vSAN ReadyNodes are essentially just referring to standard x86 servers that are pre-configured, tested and certified to run VMware vSAN. Each ReadyNode comes with the right amount of CPU, RAM, Network I/O Controllers, HDDs and SSDs. We also call this the “DIY” approach because customers can also choose to swap out different components for e.g., higher capacity HDDs or higher RAM cards. Customers are basically able to fix up the best-fit x86 server model that meets their requirement.

  • So when to choose what?

    Why VxRail Appliance?
    If you are looking for an appliance model whereby everything has been installed for you and all you need to do is to bring the components up- you might want to look into VxRail. VxRail comes with a really nice VxRail Manager component.

    This component has user-friendly workflows that helps to automate VxRail deployment and configuration, as well as monitoring the health of individual systems and nodes in the entire cluster.

    From a service and support angle, VxRail Manager also includes functionality for hardware serviceability and platform lifecycle management. For example, it guides the Sys Admins through the process of adding new systems to an existing clusters, and automatically detects new systems when they are brought online.

    Also, when it comes to failed disk drives, VxRail Manager can also be used to replace these failed disks without disrupting availability and can help to download diagnostic bundles and apply it to VMware updates as well as software patches non-disruptively.

    Of course, with that being said, naturally, you would have to pay an extra premium for these value-added services and features.

    Why ReadyNodes?
    For customers who want to simply get started and do not fuss over the automated lifecycle features, then perhaps ReadyNodes might be more applicable for you.

    If you do not want to be vendor locked-in, the ReadyNodes would be a good option as well. You will have the flexibility to choose whatever servers you want from whichever hardware vendor you prefer (of course, the components/server would still need to be part of the VMware Hardware Compatibility List).

  • What about vCenter then?

    There is a VxRail Manager plugin for vCenter, so all VxRail Manager features can be integrated with and are accessible from vCenter. Users can now manage physical hardware of the cluster and also benefit from the features on a familiar management tool.

  • Service and Support

    If you have opted for the Dell EMC’s VxRail, it means that the support would come directly from Dell instead of VMware. Of course, if there is an issue with the VMware software, Dell would be able to help liaise and work with VMware to help you solve the issue. Basically, L1 and L2 Support comes from Dell, and L3 would be escalated to VMware directly.

    For ReadyNodes however, while it depends largely on the kind of licenses you purchase, whether or not OEM for example, it is possible that you need to manage support from VMware and from the Hardware Vendor.

Wrapping Things Up
In any case, both approach, regardless through an appliance like VxRail or ReadyNodes can get you started easily on HCI. It ultimately depends on a myriad of factors (which I may or may not have discussed it this article)- cost, value-added services… etc.

To know more about on what VMware’s HCI is- you can refer to this piece that I wrote earlier in the year.

Note: This piece was written based on the latest VxRail version since December 2019. Hence I may not have included any new changes or updates with regards to the features in this article.

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