Nutanix displaces need for separate NAS with Acropolis File Services

Nutanix sees its native file serving solution on the Nutanix Distributed File Storage Fabric as opening up a large new market for it displacing NAS servers, and bringing disruption to a NAS market they say has been ready for it for a while.

Prabu Ram 300 Nutanix

Prabu Rambadran, Director of Product Marketing at Nutanix

Today, Nutanix is announcing Acropolis File Services (AFS), a web-scale native scale out file serving solution which makes file services a native element on the Nutanix Distributed File Storage Fabric (DSF), removing the need for a separate NAS system to manage the file services.

“When customers buy infrastructure, they buy primary storage for virtual machines, and a lot of times in addition to primary storage they also need a NAS for serving files,” said Prabu Rambadran, Nutanix’s Director of Product Marketing. “As a result, they have needed a traditional NAS solution, which is very complex to deploy and manage.”

Nutanix developed AFS to increase simplicity and remove the necessity for this siloed solution, allowing the infrastructure to be further consolidated by collapsing yet another use case onto Nutanix infrastructure.

“What we wanted to do is provide the same level of simplicity you get when you deploy a file server in Amazon,” Rambadran said. “This brings the same concept to the enterprise cloud. You can deploy a NAS solution within a Nutanix cluster, without an appliance, and get High Availability and unlimited scalability as well. It brings the same Nutanix simplicity to another use case, and eliminates another silo that existed in the data centre.”

AFS is deployed and managed from Nutanix Prism, and is available through a non-disruptive software upgrade across all Nutanix platforms. It provides all the core benefits of DSF – intelligent tiering, deduplication, compression, erasure coding and native data protection. In addition, AFS delivers several features to better manage unstructured data. The first release focuses on user data like home directories, user profiles and department shares. AFS will add several more features focused on users and applications in the next release.

The first release provides support for SMB 2.1, the standard protocol for home directories, user profiles, and department shares. SMB 3.0 and NFS will be supported in future releases

So why address this issue at this stage?

“The VM storage market is much bigger, and that’s the first market we wanted to go after, and simplify all the layers VMs relied on,” Rambadran said. “But you still have use cases like VDI, which needed a NAS appliance for user data. We are going after another use case that’s slightly adjacent to what we do.”

Now that they are going after it, Rambadran stated that Nutanix expects to make a major push into the NAS market with AFS.

“This opens up a valuable market for us,” he said. “The filer server market is seven billion dollars on its own, with NetApp being the most popular product and EMC Isilon also being strong. AFS allows us to go after this brand new market where we didn’t have a presence before. This will directly expand our TAM [Total Addressable Market].”

Rambadran also emphasized AFS’ ability to massively disrupt the existing NAS market.

“This brings the same simplicity that AWS brings to NAS storage,” he said. “NAS storage has been waiting for disruption for a while. This brings a desperately needed change to a brand new market.”