Nutanix extends Enterprise Cloud Platform to tear down datacentre siloes

Nutanix has unveiled a host of related announcements, including enhancements in its upcoming July 4.7 release that will add support for containerized and physical environments, supporting everything in a single platform.

Sunil Potti (1) (1)

Sunil Potti, Nutanix’s Chief Product and Development Officer

LAS VEGAS — Today, at its .NEXT event here, Nutanix is making a flurry of announcements which have a common single thread – unifying the siloed data centre around a single Nutanix platform. The announcements also signify what Nutanix considers to be the completion of their evolution from a vendor who makes a hyper-converged product, into a broad platform vendor.

“This is all about eliminating siloes,” said Suda Srinivasan, Director of Product Marketing at Nutanix. “We are the only hyper-converged vendor who does this. Everything is now converged into one platform. You can run baremetal, everything, on one unified platform.”

Today’s announcement reflects a major leap forward along on a vision Nutanix has had from the start, but which they began to publicly articulate in a systematic way only within the last six months. That ambitious goal – befitting for a company whose founders came out of Google – is to fundamentally change the datacentre and provide a platform that will provide an Amazon-like private cloud. Hyperconverged infrastructure is an important part of this story, but it is only one part of it.

“There is a unifying thread across all the different announcements,” Srinivasan said. “It’s not a hodgepodge of stuff. “We have been talking about the need to re-platform the enterprise data centre, and these announcements deliver on that.”

Nutanix has always run all virtualized workloads. Its forthcoming 4.7 release in July will now extend this to physical workloads and containerized workloads as well.

“For us truly to become a cloud fabric for the whole enterprise, why stop at virtual,” said Sunil Potti, Nutanix’s Chief Product and Development Officer. “For the first time, we are able to extend beyond virtual. Nutanix now offers a single unified fabric across each and every workload in the enterprise.”

The container support comes from Acropolis Container Services (ACS), which now allows containerized applications to be deployed on the Nutanix platform with persistent storage.

“You can now have containers be a first class citizen, equal to VMs,” Potti said. “At the end of the day, real applications need data. So providing stateful container management is something we are providing in the 4.7 release.”


Suda Srinivasan, Director of Product Marketing at Nutanix

“Containers are an emerging area, but have been architected in such a way that you didn’t have persistent storage, so you had a problem where the storage went away with the container,” Srinivasan said. “The result was the creation of another silo. ACS brings the goodness of enterprise grade storage to these applications, providing persistent storage for containers supported by Acropolis.”

The physical support, provided by Acropolis Block Services (ABS), lets applications like databases running on bare metal servers directly leverage the Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric.

“While most applications are being virtualized, there are still holdout siloes,” Srinivasan said. “If for example customers wanted file sharing, traditional NAS solutions provide an option. There are also applications customers weren’t virtualizing for various reasons, like Oracle RAC, that took the bare metal route, in part for licensing concerns. ABS lets Nutanix infrastructure for their storage solution.”

Srinivasan stressed that the underlying system is the same for block or file or VM storage services.

“It’s the same high performance, highly resilient storage system that can provide all three types of storage services when required. These are no longer siloes. A single platform can support all these uses.”

Nutanix also announced the availability of all-flash nodes across the full Nutanix portfolio.

“We have democratized access to flash in each and every model,” Potti said. “Each model is now available in both hybrid and all-flash.”

“We had all-flash before only on a couple of appliances,” Srinivasan said. “There is a slight price differential for all-flash, but the price is not significant at all. Our all-flash nodes also differ from those of the pure play flash vendors because you don’t have to go over the network to access flash.”

Nutanix further announced the availability of Nutanix OpenStack drivers, to provide an easy way to build private clouds using OpenStack software.

“OpenStack has struggled with the integration of the back end with the front end,” Srinivasan said. “This makes it easy for you to use whatever OpenStack solution you want. It provides drivers that make it easier to integrate OpenStack into your environment.”

Nutanix also made several announcements around its Prism management software, which unlike the other elements of the announcements, aren’t available now, but will be, in the Asterix release with will follow 4.7. Nutanix introduced its Prism management software a year ago, and it will now be expanded with new self-service capabilities, which let both developers and line-of-business operators directly provision and manage applications.

“This one-click sub-service is the main new capability we are shipping in Asterix,” Potti said. “it’s a huge new capability.”

“Another direction where we invested a lot was making the control plane truly invisible,” Srinivasan said. “It has a lot of machine learning and intelligence built in, and its capacity planning derisks the management process significantly.” Prism’s One-click Planning will include sophisticated scenario-based modeling, based on that machine intelligence, to let datacentre managers foresee the impact changes to the IT environment will have on application performance and availability.

“This makes the environment less risky, and extends functionality further by providing what-if analysis,” Srinivasan said.

The invisible operations also show up in AHV dynamic scheduling. It delivers intelligent placement of VMs based on real-time analysis of storage utilization as well as more traditional analysis of compute and memory resources.

Prism will also be able to manage VMware ESXi environments, the same way it has been able to run their own AHV environments, with one-click management simplicity.

“You will no longer need to log into vCenter to manage ESXi,” Potti told the .NEXT audience, to loud cheers.

A new integrated network visualization capability will also provide a rich view into how VMs are connected to both physical and virtual networks, simplifying remediation of network issues.

These dynamic scheduling, VMware ESXi and network visualization announcements are also ‘futures.’

Nutanix also drew attention to an announcement made last week which fits into this broader strategy. This is a jointly engineered solution with Microsoft which brings together the Microsoft Cloud Platform System and Nutanix enterprise cloud platform to deliver an Azure-like hybrid cloud environment within an enterprise datacentre. It’s targeted at applications like Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Dynamics that need high performance and availability.

“Azure now becomes a first class citizen in terms of Nutanix,” Potti said. “From a Microsoft workload perspective, you get a head sart into that whole hypercloud journey.”

This cornucopia of related announcements brings Nutanix much, much closer to that goal of creating that Amazon-like infrastructure for the data centre.

“We are now very far along that path,” Srinivasan said. “It moves the needle forward in a significant way.”

Acropolis Block Services and Acropolis Container Services will be available in July 2016 in the 4.7 release. Nutanix OpenStack drivers are available immediately. Microsoft CPS on Nutanix will be available by July 2016.

Nutanix Prism self-service capabilities, scenario-based modeling, AHV dynamic scheduling, ESXi management from Prism and network visualization will be available in the subsequent Asterix release.