About a month ago, just a week before VMworld 2014 US, Nutanix announced their version 4.1 of their already famous Nutanix Operating System (NOS). While investigating all the features already included within NOS one might overlook a couple of great features. Let’s dive into a couple of the features and strength of the Nutanix Offering and the new 4.1 features:
Multi Hypervisor Support:
I’m a very big fan of VMware and as VMware fanboy I’ve always been weary about multi hypervisor environments. But the last couple of months I’ve seen (and heard) more and more companies talking about choosing the right hypervisor for specific jobs. Where people always talked about doing it all on ESXi, it seems Hyper-V (and in some cases KVM) are cheaper and better then ESXi.
That’s why it is important to have a choice. Nutanix as one of the view Hyper-convergence solution offers you the choice of all these Hypervisors. As said it might be you do everything on ESXi but having a choice is important.
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Multi Hardware choice:
While we’re at it, let’s keep the multi thing up. Software Defined is everything these days. Although I’m still not a big fan of this term I do use it but only when the hardware part is well covered.
Nutanix offers a great hardware platform as the base of their offering. Using commodity hardware is one thing, leverage this hardware to build for all the challenges produced by a virtual environment is another. Nutanix uses different terminology for their hardware. A block is 2U hardware unit which can hold 1, 2 or 4 compute units, known as nodes. Don’t worry the intelligence is in the nodes, and the 2U Block is not some sort of blade chassis with intellegence in it.
Due to the great solution Nutanix was (and is) for VDI a lot of environments started with a PoC in this area, and then noticed this was a solution for most of there environment. In some cases Nutanix needed to evolve their portfolio to better service the customer and with that the Nutanix hardware platform has grown into a great line of products, namely:
– The NX-1000 series (NX-1020 and NX-1050 and 4 nodes per block. More information below).
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Perfect for Small to medium businesses. The power of Nutanix lays in the fact you can start small and grow big. So let’s jump over to the next product line:
– The NX-3000 series. (NX-3050 and NX-3051 and the NX-3060 and NX-3061 also with 4 nodes per block. More information below)
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These are targeted much more on Medium and Enterprise businesses where scale is important. Starting with 2 blocks and being able to grow fast is an important expect of these machines, as well as providing a lot power as well as possibilities. Next:
– The NX-6000 series. (NX-6020, NX-6050 and NX6051, NX-6060, NX-6070 and the NX-6080 all with 2 nodes per block. more information below)
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These nodes are both capacity as well as compute power. With two of these high capacity nodes you’ll have about twice the capacity of the 4 node blocks, and still you get a whole lot of compute power. Next in line are the 7000 series where GPU power is most important:
– The NX-7000 series. (NX-7110 which contains 1 node per 2 U. more information below)
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VDI has always been a big part of Nutanix. First of all it is an easy use case to start with the Nutanix offering and a PoC is setup and running within the hour (VMware and Citrix installation and configuration not included). Dealing with VDI is a complex task that involves a lot of different user types. Most users don’t need a whole lot of GPU power, and the NX-1000 and NX-3000 series will be more then sufficient for them. But for the GPU intensive loads (CAD, Animation creation, 3D modeling and others) the NX-7110 is the bomb. They need this and providing it is just awesome. Last but not least the brand new 8000 series.
– NX-8000 series. (The NX-8150 also contains 1 node per block. more information below).
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Why in the … would you need a monster like this? No clue? Think Oracle, SQL and SAP. Where most of the NX nodes provide multiple of thousands (10s of thousands) IOPS. But some applications just need more… That’s where the NX-8150 comes in. This is the machine you need for your Tier 1 apps, with 2-4 times the SSD density of the other NX nodes this monster will help you to tame every application in your environment.
If you thought you wouldn’t be able to build a whole “SD” DataCenter with Nutanix, Think Again!!!
The NOS 4.1 new featueres:
When you make a list of all the features already included in the NOS, you might wonder if there were any new and important updates. With features like reduplication, compression, replication, PRISM. NDFS, SRA and so on the list is long, but still Nutanix is capable of providing awesome new features:
- Cloud Connect:
The era of cloud is alive and kicking… Using the Public cloud is still a step to far for a lot companies especially outside the US. So providing companies the ability to backup to EC2 and S3 looks awesome, is awesome, but might just not be used that much outside the US. Being able to Backup other Nutanix infrastructures on any hypervisor is a great feature. Where a lot companies struggle with the licensing fees of the hypervisor, this feature gives a company the ability to backup to another site with another hypervisor installed. So If your main datacenter runs VMware and your second datacenter runs Hyper-V, Nutanix got you covered.
As said a lot of companies are still struggling with putting their data into the public cloud. Using AWS (EC2 or S3) might be something for the US only at this moment, but I’m sure Nutanix will not leave it with this. Other Cloud providers and even local cloud providers (think vCloud Director and Microsoft Azure) will probably follow in the near future.
- Data at rest Encryption:
For a multitude of companies Data at Rest Encryption is a must. Think Government, Banking and hospitals for one, but there are many more that need this feature.
Nutanix provides this feature for the following nodes: NX-3060-E, NX-3061-E and the NX-6060E and there are a couple of requirements that must be met. First of all this feature is ESXi only for the moment. Mixing clusters with host with and without DRE is not possible. Either you have DRE or you don’t. You can still manage everything via the same PRISM interface, though. To enable DRE you need a third party key management server, for the time being the only certified by Nutanix is the SafeNet KeySecure Cryptographic Key Management System. I know, that’s another at the moment, but I’m absolutely sure this offering will grow over time.
- One click Hypervisor and Firmware upgrade:
I really love this new feature, as there aren’t that many product featuring this kind of solution while extremely important. In many environments I work the upgrades of both soft- and firmware are a pain in the …. Most of the time the Software part of the upgrade is doable thanks to tools like VMware Update Manager, but when talking about firmware most of the time administrators are talking about 20 to 30 minutes per server to take care of it… When talking about 100’s of servers per datacenter and multiple datacenters you can do the math….
This new feature provided by Nutanix is a timesaver of big proportions… In an environment of a 1000 hosts this can save you up to 80 days (yes days) of work. Doing it in an automated way, and doing the updates and upgrades that don’t need a reboot quickly and on the fly, while providing the possibility to update and upgrade and reboot all your hosts through one and the same interface in this automated way is just awesome, and for as I know a Nutanix only feature (correct me if I’m wrong ;-)).
These are some awesome features added to an already awesome product line. The only thing that was missing in the Nutanix offering was the ability to leverage hardware provided by the „big” vendors… That might seem like a strange thing to ask for, but with large enterprises and governments holding a tight policy on which vendors they do business with this is a must if you ask me. Where everybody shouts Software Defined it’s kinda weird to only support your own (OEM) hardware. This all changed with the announcement made by Nutanix and Dell that Dell hardware (DX-series) will be supported to run the Nutanix software… For me this is great news and I can only hope others will follow soon ;P
To find out more of the Nutanix Operating System 4.1 features I would like to point out to these great blogs and sites:
Andre Leibovici – Nutanix 4.1 Features Overview (Beyond Marketing) – Part 1
Don’t forget to read the rest of this blog for some awesome information and tools.
Dwayne Lessner – Hypervisor Agnostic Backuup -> Hyper-V -> ESXi -> AWS
Again don’t forget to read the rest of this blog ;P
Nutanix – The Nutanix Website