Nutanix (NTNX) HCI review – Oct 2019
Nutanix NTNXHCI review - Oct 2019

Nutanix (NTNX) HCI review – Oct 2019

Nutanix Info

They started Nutanix (NTNX) HCI on September 23, 2009, by Dheeraj Pandey, Mohit Aron, and Ajeet Singh. In early 2013 Aron left Nutanix to start Cohesity, a privately held enterprise storage company. On June 1, 2019, Nutanix appointed Brian Stevens to its board of directors. Nutanix reached a $1 billion valuation by 2013. The company provides a variety of hardware vendor platforms and configurations you can choose from. Nutanix has been going slower in 2019. The company’s stock has dropped from a high of $53 per share to below $18 over the past 52 weeks as it continues transitioning to a subscription-based business model. They depend on their software suite and use partners to sell different hardware platforms to use their software and integrates computing, virtualization, storage, networking, and security to meet your enterprise needs. If you look at the age of the company, then you see that they achieved a lot in a short period. You can compare their age to another HCI company like Datrium (started the same time) and see their growth.

Nutanix aims to expand from its core HCI starting point to become a full-stack supplier of hybrid multi-cloud.

Nutanix HCI product set

Nutanix HCI has 3 different product sets and software called Acropolis that has 5 key components that make it a complete solution for delivering any infrastructure service:

Nutanix has 3 product sets:

  • Core – all the basics you have to have.
  • Essentials – add ons you want to have
  • Enterprise – all the bells and whistles they have.

The pictures below will give you an illustration:

Below, we will start with the official hardware platforms they support although there are more available. Certified solutions as of Oct 2019:

For their official link click here

Now we will move onto the core components that are the foundation od Nutanix

Nutanix AOS – Core Component

AOS is the base operating system, the so-called “data plane” that packages (encapsulates) the runtime of storage, compute, security, and network. Compare that to Prism and Calm, which are the “control plane” pieces of Nutanix. AOS stands for Acropolis Operating System. NOS is the old name of AOS. AOS includes AHV as part of its payload.

Virtualization AHV – Core Component

Nutanix AHV (Acropolis Hypervisor) was developed in 2015 which is awesome hypervisor and one company that broke away from VMware. Although they fully support VMware and others. If you remove the childish and sarcastic articles (some articles) by both Nutanix and VMware. They both have awesome products that help a lot of companies. The last decade and a half has been all about virtualization and making the most of the on-prem compute resources and Nutanix has done a great job here.

Prism – Core Component

Prism is the management control plane of a Nutanix HCI system. Prism runs on every Nutanix node, enabling Acropolis and its hypervisor to manage the clusters and the infrastructure. Prism also works with other hypervisors that you deploy in the HCI system.

Other info regarding Nutanix

Storage

Nutanix Acropolis uses MapReduce technology to deliver highly distributed storage to ensure no single points of failure and a negligible impact on real-time performance. Nutanix Enterprise storage capabilities include:

  • Performance acceleration capabilities such as caching, data tiering & data locality
  • Storage optimization technologies, such as De-dupe, Compression & Erasure Coding
  • Data protection technologies to support snapshots to local, remote and cloud-based sites.
  • Disaster Recovery features, such as synchronous, asynchronous, and near-synchronous replication.
  • Nutanix provides a highly distributed shared-nothing software solution that aggregates local HDD and SSD to deliver a high performing linear scale-out architecture.

Nutanix uses the Nutanix Distributed File System (NDFS), based on the original GFS that Google developed in 2003 and still used by them. Nutanix founders claim that they were part of the team that produced GFS. However, NDFS is a fully customized and optimized solution for virtualization and it’s performance and capacity requests.

Networking

Nutanix Acropolis provides a comprehensive set of services to visualize the network, automate common network operations and secure the network through native services and partner integration. These services include:

  • Application-centric visualization of the physical and virtual network topology to diagnose and fix common networking issues.
  • Open APIs that enable network devices and services such as top-of-rack switches, application delivery controllers (ADC) and firewalls to automatically adapt based on application life-cycle events.

Public Cloud Integration

AWS announced in 2017 that it offers EC2 on bare metal servers. Nutanix has recently announced XI Clusters which allows the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software to run on AWS bare-metal servers. Nutanix can use its whole suite of software to offer services on the public cloud. The announcement from Amazon makes it easier for all HCI vendors to move to the cloud. This also opened the door for players like VMware running VMware cloud on top of AWS to integrate HCI to hybrid cloud. So you can manage your already known HCI solution in the public cloud. It integrates Nutanix networking into the AWS cloud that makes it easier to manage between systems.

Not to get too carried away with this topic I only want to mention that storage and licensing are still a bit of an issue when moving your HCI to the cloud and Amazon is also entering the HCI market with Amazon Outposts. The Nutanix integration looks better and cheaper here if I compare it to VMware. With Xi Clusters, current customers of AWS can leverage their existing environments and launch Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS within their current environments, without the need to create a new AWS account, VPCs or WAN networking.

AWS is offering bare metal servers at your premises too. You can then run native EC2 cloud instances on your own premises, or use the server as bare metal to install any software you like. Then you get Google with their containers pushing into this enterprise space in yet another way. This is maybe why rumors had it that Google wants to buy Nutanix. I am getting carried away… let’s move on 🙂

Backups – Nutanix Mine

Nutanix Mine integrates third-party data backup and recovery software with Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud OS software.

This allows Nutanix customers to manage their primary and secondary data storage and backup and recovery through a single management console. Nutanix claims that Mine will streamline overall deployment and will simplify the full life-cycle of data backup operations, including ongoing management, scaling, and troubleshooting.

Mine will support several data backup and recovery software products, including Veeam, HYCU, Commvault, Veritas, and Unitrends. This will get better over time and add value to their current solution.

Nutanix Mine integrates with Nutanix’s Prism management console and reduces complexity in managing separate systems for data backup and recovery. It also takes advantage of Nutanix’s compression and deduplication features.

Nutanix Bible

The Nutanix bible is an e-book that explains how Nutanix HCI products operate. It is an all in one book with quality documentation where you will find almost all content regarding Nutanix and their solutions.

Conclusion

Nutanix is a great product, and they have matured a lot in a short period. You can use them for a lot of use cases and they will exceed most of it. they have a proper almost full-spectrum solution. I just dislike their aggressive sales strategy, but this is a personal issue 🙂

If you need more info on Nutanix then click on this great 2019 design guide.

By Cobus Smit – 7 Oct 2019

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