Nutanix makes ‘biggest announcement ever’ with platform for simpler, cheaper virtualization

Acropolis combines Nutanix’s flagship Distributed Storage Fabric with their own hypervisor and a new app mobility fabric which will decouple apps from their hypervisor, let users use the Nutanix hypervisor, and massively cut their virtualization costs. Prism complements it with simple management. Acropolis and Prism make up the new Xtreme Computing Platform.

Greg Smith Nutanix

Greg Smith, Senior Director, Product and Technical Marketing at Nutanix

Today at its inaugural .NEXT user conference in Miami, Nutanix is making a pair of major announcements, which together, extend its platform and aim to make virtualization and virtualization management as invisible as they made storage invisible. Nutanix is announcing Acropolis, which has Nutanix’s own hypervisor, plus a new app mobility fabric which will decouple apps from their hypervisor, allow users to use the Nutanix hypervisor, and massively cut their virtualization costs. The other announcement, Prism, adds single point of control, one-click management. Nutanix is branding Acropolis and Prism together as their next generation Xtreme Computing Platform (XCP).

“We are using the biggest stage we have ever had to make the biggest announcement we have ever had, with both a vision and the products,” said Greg Smith, Senior Director, Product and Technical Marketing at Nutanix.

“We are the clear leader in hyperconverged space [52 per cent of the market, according to IDC] where we succeeded phenomenally by making storage invisible through a distributed storage fabric in an open manner supporting all hypervisors,” Smith said. “What we are doing is taking the credit for making storage invisible – and then outlining a vision to make the rest of the stack invisible. Making virtualization and virtualization management invisible is our vision for the next two to three years.”

Acropolis is one of the keys to this. It consists of Nutanix’s flagship Distributed Storage Fabric. It also includes something that has been rumored in development for some time – Nutanix’s own hypervisor. Unlike last month’s rumor of Cisco acquiring Nutanix, this rumor is true.

“The Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor is based on KVM technology, but it goes well beyond it,” Smith said. “We painstakingly hardened the hypervisor instance, by developing a custom security profile, in which we put hypervisor in very secure state and we monitor it, using SaltStack open source configuration management. If we detect any drift from that baseline, we automatically self-heal and return it to a secure state. So there is much greater security than in a typical open source hypervisor.”

While Nutanix unveiling its own hypervisor is a splashy item, the final part of the Acropolis announcement, the new app mobility fabric, is more important, Smith said. The fabric is an open    environment which delivers VM placement, VM migration, and VM conversion, as well as cross-hypervisor high availability and integrated disaster recovery, even into the public cloud.

“This is what we are very excited about, and this is the really important news,” Smith said. “It’s very powerful, and allows customers to freely move their applications between different hypervisors at will, on demand. They can decouple their application from their underlying hypervisor, and with a few clicks customers can convert it to run on a different hypervisor in the same Nutanix system.”

This technology leverages the hypervisor-agnostic nature of the Nutanix solution, the only huperconverged solution to date that supports all virtualized environments. However, Smith also emphasized that Acropolis highlights that the hypervisor has become a commodity in enterprise IT today – and an unnecessarily expensive one.

“Our goal is to provide customers with the greatest possible choice, and Acropolis provides a choice,” Smith said. “The app mobility fabric lets them decouple the apps from the hypervisor and choose what is best for their particular environment. Acropolis is one option here, which can reduce virtualization costs by as much as 80 per cent by providing a no-cost native hypervisor and integrated virtualization management. It eliminates the virtualization tax.”

The other announcement, Nutanix Prism, complements Acropolis with a single point of control for infrastructure management. It combines consumer‐grade user experience that has a sophisticated yet simple search technology, with advanced machine learning technology with built‐in heuristics and business intelligence Its One‐Click technology streamlines IT tasks, which includes a single click for software upgrades, trend analysis and planning, and troubleshooting.

“We have vocal support for XCP from industry leaders like Citrix, Microsoft, Dell and Docker,” Smith said. “Docker supports it because it also lets containers run on the same platform, as well as switch hypervisors. The app mobility fabric treats containers as first class citizens.”

VMware was not on that list of supporters, but Smith said that the EMC Federation member remains a strong partner of Nutanix. That remains to be seen of course. While Citrix and Microsoft are likely to lose some hypervisor business to Acropolis, they will also benefit because the increased simplicity and overall decline in the cost of hyperconverged infrastructure will make it more attractive as part of their own solutions. VMware, as the overwhelming market leader in the space, has rather more to lose, and Nutanix’s conception of a ‘virtualization tax’ seems targeted precisely at VMware.

Nutanix is demonstrating the Xtreme Computing Platform at .NEXT. The Acropolis hypervisor, and Prism are both available now. What is still a futures is Acropolis’ ability to convert VMs and migrate them.

“The architecture is there now, and we will release the capability later this year,” Smith said.