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A new player in town called Nutanix

Written by Roy Mikes on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in General

A different approach!

By now I guess a lot of you readers heard about Nutanix. Recently Nutanix published they Exceeds $ 80M annualized run rate in only its Sixth Quarter of selling. Nutanix is a startup with a different approach. Why Different? Nutanix combines storage and servers. The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is a converged infrastructure solution that consolidates the compute (server) tier and the storage tier into a single, integrated hardware appliance. On top of that it also leverages existing 10 GbE Ethernet networking investments out of the box. Since storage is included in Nutanix's appliance, storage area networks, or SANs, aren't needed. This can be a considerable savings.

According to many a Converged infrastructure is an IT infrastructure with his components into a single, optimized computing solution. Components of a converged infrastructure solution include servers, storage devices, networking equipment and software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration. It seems Nutanix compliance to that. Personally I am a big fan of Converged solutions because it breaks down silos. For years we were told we need people working on networking, storage and servers. These specialist were and still are hero's in the field but they are still dedicated to their area of specialization. "He was so good at what he did that it did not occur to him to also take a look at his neighbor". Sounds familiar? So this is quite a challenge. Imagine that you talk to a storage guy who now needs to know more than basics about networks or to do something with a hypervisor. Often this goes hand in hand but when not there's your challenge again to convince people. Often this is accompanied by emotions, so enthusiasm and conviction is a powerful act here.

Nutanix claims to be up and running under 30 minutes. By converging storage and computing into a single appliance, Nutanix delivers datacenter infrastructure that helps organizations move away from a silo-based IT model. This sounds like music to the ears of every IT manager. Although everyone talks about Converged infrastructure, everyone seems to forget why we should or should not move to a converged solution. Uninterrupted operations of data centers are critical. It is necessary to have a reliable infrastructure that ensures data is accessible at all times, whether it is local or public. Good management eliminates single points of failure. Every business requires certain applications that they use every day to run their business. These applications become assets and are incorporated into the business. Critical information is deployed on the asset and these assets are provided to each employee. It is important that the data in each organization is analyzed and classified in order to develop a strategy. You must classify your data; otherwise, everything gets protected the same way. Without classification everything is important and you don‘t want that. Unless you own a gold mine!

So it's important to look to some Key requirements which are:

  • Availability
  • Capacity
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Data integrity
  • Manageability

Organizations always strive to optimize the capability of the IT infrastructure, services, and supporting organization to deliver a costeffective level of availability. Built-in fault resiliency eliminates any single point of failure across the compute and storage tiers, VM-level replication and backup capabilities. I love to hear more about that from Nutanix. The platform is self-healing. Leveraging distributed MapReduce jobs, it proactively scrubs data to resolve disk or data errors. If a controller VM fails, all I/O requests are automatically forwarded to another controller VM until the local controller becomes available again. An important factor for Cloud applications. The Nutanix NX serie comes with 16 TB SATA storage capacity. I am supprised they choose for 1 TB SATA disks. There are already 4 TB on the market for some time. This could boost up the capacity from 16 to 64 TB easily. Moneywise on a capacity base they they could be a feared opponent. Another factor is compared to SAS and NL-SAS the SATA disks are the lowest in the spectrum. Although SATA doesn’t perform as well as SAS and doesn’t have some of the enterprise benefits of NL-SAS, SATA disks remain a vital component in any organization’s storage system, particularly for common low-tier, mass storage needs.

All core data center elements should be able to provide optimal performance. So what is best? Such a simple question. Unfortunately, there is not always a simple answer. Many would say we do Flash and don't worry about IOPS anymore. Partly true. It all depends on how the different applications access the data. Large sequential operations will tend to starve small block I/O on the same set of disks trying to operate at the same time. You need to determine minimum performance thresholds for each application on the array and make sure it can meet them under worst-case scenarios (rebuilding a failed disk and processing I/O, etc.). With in total of 1,6 Tb PCIe flashcards you deal with a Nutanix performance killer. The Nutanix Cluster offers the best of both worlds through its tiering technology heat-optimized tiering (HOT). Hot data, measured by the frequency of IO requests, is placed on Fusion-io drives and is then migrated to the slower SATA disks when it grows cold. This is achieved using very intiligente algorithms that use the MapReduce technology to determine appropriate data placement and migration. A question that continues to haunt me in my head is latency, A known fact is Ethernet has a higher Latency then fibre. How does Nutanix for example deal with very sensitive application or Databases when replicating datablocks?

Data center operations should be able to allocate additional capabilities or storage on
demand, without interrupting business. The storage solution should be able to grow with the business. The modern data center with for example BIG data is the ideal environment for scale-out storage solutions. Nutanix is a typically scale out solution. You can add additional Nutanix appliances to an existing cluster to scale performance and capacity to your needs. 

Managing a complex data center involves many tasks. Manageability can be difficult and very complex or, the opposite, easy and simple. Nutanix works with a 'simple' console. The Console offers a rich set of functionality that can be accessed when needed. Analyzing System Bottlenecks, Storage usage and forecasting, Measuring the compute and storage footprint of various applications, Alerts on various system events, Call Home and Remote Support and many more. In summary, the key manageability benefits from the Nutanix Complete Cluster are a Seamless integration with VMware. It Simplificate the configuration, management and troubleshooting needs for the backend. The Nutanix Cluster removes the complexity in managing a virtualized datacenter. Above all Virtualization hypervisors are pre-installed, ready for fast deployments of virtual machines (VMs).

As discussed above and I certainly have not discussed all topics, Nutanix is a true enabler for a Converged Infrastructure. The question is, are you ready for a Nutanix solution?

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About the Author

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes

Roy Mikes has developed a deep knowledge of virtualization, storage and Cloud in a broad perspective over the past 15 years, but also streamlines his focus on VMware and EMC Technology. Because of that knowledge and focus, Roy works as a Cloud and Storage Technologist Specialist, Data Center Architect Specialist and VMware Certified Professional.

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