Will VMware Start Selling Hardware? Meet MARVIN

Will VMware Start Selling Hardware? Meet MARVIN

UPDATE:  After a Twitter discussion this morning with Christian Mohn ( @h0bbel — see his MARVIN post here ) I think we are in agreement on MARVIN may be.  This post has been updated accordingly.

The Register is running a story that VMware is preparing to launch a line of hardware servers leveraging vSphere and VSAN:

Evidence for MARVIN’s existence comes from two sources.

One is this trademark filingdescribing MARVIN as “Computer hardware for virtualization; computer hardware enabling users to manage virtual computing resources that include networking and data storage”.

The second source is the tweet below, which depicts a poster for MARVIN on a VMware campus.


If this pans out to be true it would be a very interesting development indeed.  It is important to note that that the trademark specifically says that MARVIN is “hardware”. But will it be VMware’s hardware?  As Christian pointed on his post it would go against VMware’s DNA to sell it’s own hardware.  But EMC — VMware’s majority owner — already has VSPEX — a confederated hardware offering from multiple OEMs but purchased through EMC.  It seems more plausible that VMware would leverage a VSPEX-like model and utilize Dell, Cisco, SuperMicro, etc. hardware for MARVIN.  What VMware really needs is a way to sell converged infrastructure nodes as one SKU (mitigate design risk) and one point of support — a VSPEX-like model for MARVIN would accomplish exactly this without VMware actually selling their own hardware.

MARVIN at first glance would also seem to be a validation of the Nutanix model — build a scale-out storage solution and sell as boxes that include the full stack.  That’s not an apples to apples comparison and it’s not my intent to split hairs here, but one of the attractive things about the Nutanix model is that “you just buy a box”.  By combining VMware VSAN with vSphere and hardware, VMware can offer a scale-out modular solution where customers just need to “buy a box” as well.

Of course its possible to build your own VSAN-enabled vSphere cluster using hardware of your choice from the HCL, but as noted with some recent issues there’s some risk in not selecting the optimal components. By offering a complete IaaS stack as a modular hardware unit, this eliminates the “design risk” for the customer and enables more support options.

One more thing to keep in mind.  EMC recently acquired DSSD with the goal of developing persistent storage that sits in the memory bus, therefore closer to the CPU. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this introduced in future editions as well.

This could be an interesting development.  What are your thoughts about the potential entry of VMware into the hardware market?

Also what could MARVIN stand for?  How about…

Modular ARray of Virtualization Infrastructure Nodes?

5 Responses to Will VMware Start Selling Hardware? Meet MARVIN

  1. Brian says:

    Wow, looks a lot like the Android guy. Plus the M looks like the gmail icon, someone needs to find a more original image.

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  3. Scott H says:

    My guess.

    Modular Array of Resilient Virtualization Infrastructure Nodes?

    In the hope that somehow the nodes are self healing/updating clusters.

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