Nutanix, More Than Just HCI

Author: Darren Ashley

The Company I work for, BEarena has become synonymous with Nutanix since we launched the product as the first ANZ partner in 2012. We’ve amassed a wealth of customers along the way, built relationships that will last forever, and most importantly for me changed the lives of thousands of people in the way they work, and the way their business operates.

So much has changed since 2012. We very rarely talk about HCI now. HCI has become accepted by the majority of enterprises we speak to, be it either with Nutanix, or one of their now many competitors. So, how does Nutanix and BEarena together remain relevant and distance ourselves from other offerings? By not talking about HCI…. Let me explain.
HCI is a technology. HCI requires some server hardware, and a filesystem to bring that hardware together to present as one compute/storage pool. Applications require this technology to run and so it’s a happy marriage. However, what happens when an applications requirements change? How can I bring the same beautiful simplicity to other areas of my business with respect to IT? How do I backup my applications? How do I provide new services to my business so we can get a competitive advantage? How do I establish a catalog of services I can easily support? 
The Answer!
If you want to be able to easily answer all those questions above, HCI is no longer enough. You need an Enterprise Cloud Framework. I will try to explain further. Nutanix came to market, famed for VDI. Customers tried it, liked it, and said hey, let’s use this for servers too! The framework had started, we had 2 services running from the same control and data plane….

In the early days, a lot of customers asked can we use Nutanix hosts with our existing SAN, or use our existing hosts with Nutanix storage? The answer in both cases was no. Similarly, customers running unified storage such as Netapp or EMC Celerra asked about File Services. Again, the answer was to run those as a Windows VM on the Nutanix nodes. This was the next change, Acropolis Block Storage (Now Nutanix Volumes) and Acropolis File Services (Now Nutanix Files) were born, again same control and data plane….

As the services grew, the control plane needed to grow to be more informative. If the platform was to become central to IT infrastructure, the elegant web management interface (PRISM) needed additional features for functions such as growth predictions and analysis, bottleneck detection, VM right sizing, and increased automation capability. PRISM Pro and PRISM Central deliver all of these abilities across not just one, but ALL clusters in a customers environment no matter their location.

Having now virtialised storage, the hypervisor (vSphere, Hyper-V and Nutanix Acropolis) all being supported and easily migrated between, coupled with a rich set of platform features, focus shifted towards supporting customers Cloud migration and usage strategies. By developing an application marketplace in Nutanix CALM, blueprints for n-tiered applications could be developed and deployed programatically on either the on premises Private Cloud, or into the Public Cloud with CALM extending the automation features of the platform to provision the service.

The afore mentioned Acropolis hypervisor (Now Nutanix AHV) now started to become a real option for customers, with security having been a focus in the product from inception. From STIG compliance and security base-lining through data encryption, the addition of microsegmentation with Nutanix Flow on AHV the simplicity experienced day 1 with the storage virtualisation was now extending across the platform and into the network. The same also applied to the hybrid cloud world with the addition of Xi DR, Nutanix Disaster Recovery as a Service securely hosted in Nutanix locations around the globe. Again, Flow and Xi DR benefit from the same control plane delivering the same automation capabilities.

Most recently a number of other products have entered the Nutanix portfolio and I will provide more detail on these in a future blog post however in the interest of time I will complete my picture now. Further extending the storage capabilities of the product, Nutanix Objects now presents S3 based object storage again from the same data plane. For customers that are running in a multi cloud environment, Xi Beam will not only keep your public cloud implementation secure through governance, but also reduce cost through analysis of your cloud usage and measure against projected and budgeted spend. Nutanix ERA is transforming the world of database administration bringing one click provisioning and copy data management to database creation and cloning. 

With the support of 1 and 2 node clusters, ROBO sites can now be accommodated, all managed through the same control plane in PRISM central. Again, the single click nature of the Nutanix software upgrades means infrastructure wide operations can be conducted with minimal effort, and in locations where n+1 is available during the business day.

Nutanix Karbon provides the ability to get a production-ready Kubernetes Cluster up and running in 20 minutes, then keep it running smoothly with built-in storage, centralized monitoring, and automated upgrades.

Customers looking to shift to, or from the Cloud can leverage Nutanix Move to seamlessly synchronize workloads to the new target, before cutting over at a pre-determined time to the new location. If moving to Nutanix HCI, or in fact wanting to test another HCI platform, Nutanix provides their X-Ray tool for real world, true HCI benchmarking.

To converge the edge, the Nutanix Xi IoT platform delivers local compute and AI for IoT edge devices, converging the edge and your choice of cloud infrastructure into one seamless, efficient data processing platform. Xi IoT eliminates complexity, and accelerates deployments.

Backup is also becoming a focus in the platform with a growing eco-system of vendors queuing up to support AHV, and Nutanix Mine co-coordinating secondary storage for retention purposes.

Finally, something I am most excited about is Nutanix Clusters. Currently in AWS, but soon to be in other public cloud providers, the ability to de-couple your Nutanix licensing from your on premises footprint and leverage spin up-suspend clusters on AHV in the public cloud is a game changer for me. Nutanix is delivering the hybrid cloud in the right way, in the public cloud, not on top of it. Delivering the ability to leverage cloud native services, and Nutanix Enterprise Cloud services as one. I plan to write an extensive blog on the customer we are POC’ing right now once they are referenceable in Production.

As you can see, HCI is no longer enough. These services will continue to expand as the Enterprise Cloud Platform continues to grow it’s reach, allowing businesses to once and for all be able to build a true catalog of services knowing the platform can deliver upon it.