EMC VSPEX powered by Bull
Pre-validated infrastructure stacks designed by Bull and EMC

EMC VSPEX powered by Bull

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VSPEX Proven Infrastructures deliver predictable performance that significantly reduces the planning, sizing and configuration burdens of adopting private cloud or end-user computing environments.

Bull and EMC are working together to deliver a series of new Reference Architectures supporting enterprise-class workloads through the use of Bull bullion servers in conjunction with EMC VNX storage and Brocade VDX switching technology.

VSPEX solutions powered by Bull are designed to scale as your business grows. Built to provide a simple, efficient, and flexible infrastructure stack, VSPEX solutions come in various modular configurations to meet the needs of your business and enable faster deployment, architecture choices, greater efficiency, and lower risk.

Converged infrastructures for large virtual server environments

The faster the world changes, the greater becomes the need for businesses to respond and act quickly. Capitalizing on its expertise in EMC technologies and VMware based server infrastructures, Bull participates to the EMC VSPEX program that accelerates the path to complete IT virtualization and addresses the three distinct phases required by large enterprises to build their future private cloud. Phase 1 is characterized by identifying a server virtualization solution that will reduce cost and operating expenses. In phase 2, the focus shifts to virtualizing mission-critical applications while ensuring application availability and improving SLAs. Phase 3 focuses on delivering Business agility through increased emphasis on end-to-end automation and delivering IT as a Service.

VSPEX solutions are designed to scale as your business grows. Built to provide a simple, efficient, and flexible infrastructure stack, VSPEX solutions come in various modular configurations to meet the needs of your business and enable faster deployment, architecture choices, greater efficiency, and lower risk. Bull has integrated its bullion business critical server into the VSPEX architecture, along with the EMC VNX storage and Brocade VDX switches.

A strong Bull EMC partnership since 20 years

Bull has capitalized on its expertise in EMC technologies and VMware based server infrastructures, and through EMC's VSPEX program ensures the integration and alignment of hypervisor, compute, network, and storage components for a wide-range of application workloads through a series of Reference Technical Architectures (RTAs) and deployment guides. Bull's participation in EMC's VSPEX program is the latest step in a relationship that stretches back almost 20 years. Bull's Storage and Virtualization Competence center based in Grenoble France has worked with EMC's engineering teams in Hopkinton US to deliver the first of a series of new RAs that will triple the number of VMware Virtual Machines supported through the use of Bull's bullion server technology.

Bull's bullion servers, specifically designed for business

A key part of the VSPEX architecture, Bull's bullion servers have been designed and developed by Bull with a desire to meet organizations' most fundamental needs for a stable infrastructure, high availability and flexibility. Bull's bullion servers are innovative and different: it's very DNA is built around an environmentally responsible approach. Europe's largest team of experts specializing in the design and implementation of critical systems has been fully involved in its creation.



  • Single pane of glass management
  • Deploy hundreds of virtual machines from templates
  • Transparency to storage with tight API integrations
  • Simple provisioning wizards
  • vCenter discovery


  • Set it and forget it storage policies with SDRS
  • Unified storage in a single platform
  • Thin provisioned storage on demand


  • Flexible choices in compute, network, storage and backup
  • Add enterprise Flash drives to storage for FLASH Cache benefits

Key Components:

Proven architectures designed by Bull & EMC

VSPEX pre-validated and modular architectures are built with proven best-of-breed technologies to create complete virtualization solutions that enable you to make the right choices in the hypervisor, compute and networking layers. VSPEX eliminates server virtualization planning and configuration burdens. VSPEX powered by Bull, takes the most from Bull's bullion servers, EMC VNX series storage, Brocade VDX switches and VMware vSphere5.

Bull's bullion servers

Based on a modular architecture, and natively embedding the VMware ESXi virtualization hypervisor, Bull's bullion servers are the answer to enabling IT departments to consolidate Xeon-based business applications while providing reliability and simplicity. Bull's bullion servers possess all the required attributes: hardware failure isolation with no impact on production, firmware upgrades on the fly, and a maintenance processor for remote control. Its modular architecture of up to four building blocks of 3U each, together with native virtualization, provides optimum flexibility. Moreover, its magnitude of system resources is unequaled for scalable infrastructure deployment, especially for Windows business applications. True expandability and scalability become reality.

EMC VNX series

The EMC VNX™ family is optimized for virtual applications delivering industry leading innovation and enterprise capabilities for file, block, and object storage in a scalable, easy-to-use solution. This next-generation storage platform combines powerful and flexible hardware with advanced efficiency, management, and protection software to meet the demanding needs of today's enterprises. The VNX series is powered by Intel Xeon processor, for intelligent storage that automatically and efficiently scales in performance, while ensuring data integrity and security. The VNX series is purpose built for the IT manager in smaller environments and the VNX series is designed to meet the high-performance, high-scalability requirements of midsize and large enterprises.

Software suites available

  • FAST Suite - Automatically optimizes for the highest system performance and the lowest storage cost simultaneously.
  • Local Protection Suite—Increases productivity with snapshots of production data.
  • Remote Protection Suite—Protects data against localized failures, outages, and disasters.
  • Application Protection Suite—Automates application copies and proves compliance.
  • Security and Compliance Suite—Keeps data safe from changes, deletions, and malicious activity.

Software packs available

  • Total Efficiency Pack—Includes all five software suites.
  • Total Protection Pack—Includes the Local Protection, Remote Protection and Application Protection Suites.

Brocade VDX Switches

Brocade VDX switches give the flexibility and ability to scale the network to meet evolving virtualization needs. The result is fast, dependable network connectivity between servers for optimal performance in a virtualized environment. Brocade VCS™ Fabric technology enables organizations to build data center Ethernet fabrics—revolutionizing the design of Layer 2 networks and providing an intelligent foundation for cloud-optimized data centers.

VMware vSphere 5

VMware vSphere 5 transforms a computer's physical resources, by virtualizing the CPU, RAM, hard disk, and network controller. This transformation creates fully functional virtual machines that run isolated and encapsulated operating systems and applications just like physical computers. The highavailability features of VMware vSphere 5 such as vMotion and Storage vMotion enable seamless migration of virtual machines and stored files from one vSphere server to another with minimal or no performance impact. Coupled withvSphere DRS and Storage DRS, virtual machines have access to the appropriate resources at any point in time through load balancing of compute and storage resources.

EMC Virtual Storage Integrator for VMware vSphere

EMC Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) for VMware vSphere is a plug-in to the vSphere client that provides a single management interface that is used for managing EMC storage within the vSphere environment. Features can be added and removed from VSI independently, which provides flexibility for customizing VSI user environments. Features are managed by using the VSI Feature Manager. VSI provides a unified user experience, which allows new features to be introduced rapidly in response to changing customer requirements.

The following features were used during the validation testing:

  • Storage Viewer (SV) – Extends the vSphere client to facilitate the discovery and identification of EMC VNX storage devices that are allocated to VMware vSphere hosts and virtual machines. SV presents the underlying storage details to the virtual datacenter administrator, merging the data of several different storage mapping tools into a few seamless vSphere client views.
  • Unified Storage Management – Simplifies storage administration of the EMC VNX unified storage platform. It enables VMware administrators to provision new Network File System (NFS) datastores seamlessly within vSphere client.

Solution Architecture:

Logical Architecture

The logical architecture diagram characterizes the infrastructure validated for support of up to 300 virtual machines.

Figure 1 depicts the overall logical architecture of the solution.

Logical Architecture

Reference Architecture Overview

The reference architecture consists of the following components.

Bullion servers – The bullion is a scalable, high-end server designed with high availability, flexibility and energy efficiency in mind. These benefits, combined with a native VMware hypervisor, position the bullion servers as a key building block in the design of private clouds.

Designed for the virtualization of critical enterprise applications and a smooth, secure transition towards private Cloud computing.

The world's first to use native VMware technology, the bullion server was designed by Bull specifically for the virtualization of critical enterprise applications.

The key characteristics of this platform, especially its scalability and power, enable private Clouds to be built that bring together applications and databases within a Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA); a key component in data center transformation.

Bullion has been developed with dense and modular packaging. Each module includes four Intel Xeon E7 processors series, 512GB RAM, six PCIe slots and a patented active/passive power supply that significantly improves energy efficiency.

VMware vSphereTM virtualization hypervisor, which is natively integrated into bullion, helps ensure optimum resource utilization.

The use of Bull Coherence Switch (BCS) technology means the following options are possible:

  • Four modules are stackable, to form a single system with up to 16 sockets and 128 cores
  • Up to 4TB (VMware currently support 2TB per ESX server) RAM to support virtualized and memory-hungry applications
  • 24 PCI slots to connect to 10Gb/s Ethernet and/or 8Gb/s Fibre Channel networks, for secure access to data and dedicated bandwidth for mission-critical applications
  • 16 embedded Ethernet 1Gb/s connections, to provide network security and dedicated bandwidth
  • 32 hot-swappable SAS or SDD disks, with 9.6TB of disk space in RAID mode

A 16-socket 12U bullion server can be accommodated in a 19" rack.

Bullion architecture leverages on Bull Coherence Switch (BCS) technology - designed 100% by Bull - which has been specifically conceived to meet organizations' demands for scalability. The true backbone of the system, BCS delivers unlimited scalability enabling businesses to adapt the resources they need to support their applications, without impacting operational expenditure.

The BCS technology, designed by Bull, extends the capacity of bullion servers by equipping them with four or eight-socket configurations' even right up to 16 sockets. This means users can easily adapt their infrastructures to meet the ever-changing needs of applications operating in Cloud mode.

Brocade Switches – Seeking better ways to build clouds and virtualized data centers, today's IT organizations are turning to high-performance networking solutions that increase flexibility through leading-edge technologies.

The Brocade VDX™ 6720 Data Center Switch is a high-performance 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) fixed port switch with LAN ports that supports the most demanding business applications. It is specifically designed to improve network utilization, maximize application availability, increase scalability, and dramatically simplify network architecture in virtualized data centers. With a rich set of Layer 2 features, the Brocade VDX 6720 is an ideal platform for traditional Top-of-Rack (ToR) switch deployments.

It includes the following:

  • Offers high-performance 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) data center LAN ports in a fixed port switch configuration
  • Provides industry-leading performance and ultra-low latency through wire-speed ports with 600 nanosecond port-to-port latency and hardware-based Inter-Switch Link (ISL) trunking
  • Simplifies network architectures and enables cloud computing by delivering Brocade VCS Fabric technology
  • Provides Ethernet storage connectivity for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI, and NAS
  • Simplifies virtualization server management by providing Virtual Machine (VM) mobility with dynamic server profile configuration

VMware vSphere 5 Server – Provides a common virtualization layer to host a server environment.

vSphere 5 provides highly available infrastructure through such features as:

  • vMotion – Provides live migration of virtual machines within a virtual infrastructure cluster, with no virtual machine downtime or service disruption.
  • Storage vMotion – Provides live migration of virtual machine disk files within and across storage arrays with no virtual machine downtime or service disruption.
  • vSphere High Availability (HA) – Detects and provides rapid recovery for a failed virtual machine in a cluster.
  • Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) – Provides load balancing of computing capacity in a cluster.
  • Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler (SDRS) – Provides load balancing across multiple datastores, based on space use and I/O latency.

VMware vCenter Server 5 – Provides a scalable and extensible platform that forms the foundation for virtualization management for the VMware vSphere 5 clusters. All vSphere hosts and their virtual machines are managed from vCenter.

VSI for VMware vSphere – EMC VSI for VMware vSphere is a plug-in to the vSphere client that provides storage management for EMC arrays directly from the client. VSI is highly customizable and helps provide a unified management interface.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 – VMware vCenter Server requires a database service to store configuration and monitoring details. A Microsoft SQL 2008 R2 server is used for this purpose.

IP Network – All network traffic is carried by standard Ethernet network with redundant cabling and switching. User and management traffic is carried over a public network while storage traffic is carried over a private, non-routable subnet.

Shared Infrastructure – DNS and authentication/authorization services like Microsoft Active Directory can be provided via existing infrastructure or set up as part of the new virtual infrastructure.

EMC VNX5500 array – Provides storage by presenting NFS datastores to vSphere hosts.

Storage Architecture:

Core Storage Layout

Figure 1. shows the physical disk layout.

Storage Layout

Storage Layout Overview

The reference architecture uses the following configuration.

  • One hundred eighty 300 GB SAS disks are allocated to ten storage pools as thirty 4+1 RAID 5 groups.
  • Seven 300GB SAS disks are configured as hot spares.
  • Optionally you can configure up to 20 flash drives in the array FAST Cache. These drives are not considered to be a required part of the solution, and additional licensing may be required in order to use the FAST Suite.
  • EMC recommends that at least one hot spare disk is allocated for each 30 disks of a given type.
  • At least two NFS shares are allocated to the vSphere cluster from each storage pool to serve as datastores for the virtual servers.

High Availability and Failover:

This VSPEX solution provides a highly available virtualized server and storage infrastructure. Each component is configured to provide a scalable, robust architecture for the host, connectivity, and storage layers.

Storage Layer

The VNX series is designed for five 9s availability by using redundant components throughout the array. All storage processors and array components are capable of continued operation in case of hardware failure. The RAID disk configuration on the VNX back end provides protection against data loss due to hard disk failures. The available hot spare drives can be dynamically allocated to replace a failing disk.

Connectivity Laye

The advanced networking features of VNX series provide protection against network connection failures at the array. Each vSphere host has multiple connections to both Ethernet networks to guard against link failures. These connections are spread across multiple blades in an Ethernet switch to guard against component failure in the network.

Host Layer

The vSphere servers have redundant power supplies and network connections to reduce the impact of failure of these components. vSphere HA is configured on the vSphere cluster to help recover virtual servers quickly in case of a complete host failure.

Environment Profile:

Validated Environment Profile

The solution was validated with the following environment profile.

Profile Characteristic Value
Number of virtual machines 300
Virtual machine OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Processors per virtual machine 1
Number of virtual processors per physical CPU core 4
RAM per virtual machines 2 GB
Average storage available for each virtual machine 100 GB
Average IOPS per virtual machines 25 IOPS
Number of datastores to store virtual machines disks 12
Number of virtual desktops per data store 25
Disk and RAID type for datastores RAID 5, 300 GB, 15k rpm, 3.5-inch SAS disks

Backup Environment Profile

The solution was sized with the following application environment profile.

Backup Characteristic Value
Number of users 3000
Number of virtual machines 300 (20% DB,80% unstructured)
   Exchange Data 3.0 TB (1GB mailbox per user)
   SharePoint Data 1.25 TB
   SQL Server Data 1.25 TB
   User Data 30 TB (10.0 GB per user)
Daily change rate for the applications
Exchange Data 10%
SharePoint Data 2%
SQL Server Data 5%
User Data 2%
Retention per data types
All DB Data 14 Dailies
User Data 30 Dailies, 4 Weeklies, 1 Monthly

Backup Layout
Avamar provides various deployment options depending on the specific use case and the recovery requirements. In this case, the solution is deployed with both Avamar and Data Domain managed as a single solution. This enables to backup the unstructured user data directly to the Avamar system for simple file level recovery.

The database and virtual machine images are managed by the Avamar software, but will be directed to the Data Domain system with the embedded Boost client library. This backup solution unifies the backup process with industry leading deduplication backup software and storage, and achieves the highest levels of performance and efficiency.

Technical Specifications:

Hardware Specifications
VMware vSphere servers Memory:
  • 2 GB RAM per virtual machine (500 GB RAM across all servers)
  • 2 GB RAM reservation per vSphere host


  • One vCPU per virtual machine
  • Four vCPU per Physical core


  • Six 1 GbE NICs per serve
    Note: To implement VMware vSphere High Availability (HA) functionality and to meet the listed minimums, the infrastructure should have one additional server.

Notes: Configured as a single vSphere cluster.

Network infrastructure Two Brocade VDX 6720-24

Notes: Redundant LAN configuration
  • Two Data Movers (active/standby)
  • Four 10 GbE interface per Data Mover
  • One 1 GbE interface per control station for management
  • One hundred eighty (180) 300GB 15k rpm 3.5-inch SAS disks
  • Seven (7) 300GB 15k rpm 3.5-inch SAS disks as hot spares
EMC next-generation backup Avamar:
  • One Gen4 utility node
  • One Gen4 3.9TB spare node
  • Six Gen4 3.6TB storage nodes

Data Domain:

  • One Data Domain DD670
  • Two ES30 15 x 1 TB HDD

Notes: Backup solution may already exist in the customer environment

Bullion Two bullion servers (bi-module) with each:
  • 8x Intel xxxx 10-core
  • 640GB RAM
  • 2x X520-SR2 Dual 10 GbE and 4 internal 1x GbE

    Notes: Bullion servers are configured as a single vSphere cluster

One bullion server (mono-module) for the infrastructure with:

  • 2 x Intel xxxx 10-core
  • 128GB RAM
  • 1x X520-SR2 Dual 10 GbE and 4 internal 1x GbE

    Notes: Bullion mono-module, mainly dedicated for the infrastructure,may already exist in the customer environment
Software Specifications
VNX5500 (shared storage, file systems)
Software version VNX OE for File Release 7.0.50-2
Software version VNX OE for Block Release 31 (
EMC VSI for VMware vSphere: Unified - Next generation backup
Avamar Virtual Edition (2TB) 6.0.0-592
Data Domain OS
EMC VSI for VMware vSphere: Unified - VMware vSphere
vSphere Server 5.0
vCenter Server 5.0
Operating system for vCenter Server Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition


PDF File
Download the EMC VSPEX powered by Bull Datasheet (PDF).

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EMC VSPEX Contact us for pricing!