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Nutanix 4.1 Is About Transforming IT, Not Turning Knobs

The hyperconverged infrastructure market is red hot in 2015. The past couple years have been good – customers have a few years of education behind them and more are adopting this architecture each year. Neither the enterprise nor the vendors think hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a science experiment.

The HCI market reminds me of the early days of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Unfortunately, in the early days, many thought that VDI was about cutting costs in the desktop management space. In reality, VDI has been about enabling users to work in new ways, promoting mobility, solving security problems and enabling services that were not possible in the old desktop methods.

Although some analysts thought the move towards VDI would be like a light switch that turned on with everyone deploying immediately, that has not been the case. Instead it has been a slow and steady growth as organizations transform their End User Computing (EUC) services. I think that HCI is experiencing a similar period, although it seems to be moving much faster than VDI has in the past.

Grey-Red-Gear-CogsAs more organizations learn that what Nutanix is offering is about transforming how you manage infrastructure and less about just being another type of storage, the success of HCI will continue to explode. This approach is focused on using proven building blocks that provide you with known buckets of performance and capacity. It also allows organizations to stop worrying about how to build the next rocket ship and use Nutanix’s proven building blocks to create a successful foundation for the services that you are offering to your internal and external customers.

As an architect, I need to spend very little of my time researching, testing, and trying to make infrastructure pieces fit together. I can now spend my time on application level design and building automation that will allow services to be deployed in less time with higher accuracy.

On the operations side, admins benefit by having a single place to manage storage, data protection, performance, and capacity through Nutanix’s Prism interface. Prism was created with the sole purpose of making management simple. Data is presented to users in clean, easy-to-digest methods and has parts focused on the storage, hardware, VMs, and reporting. This approach reduces the amount of time for management and identifying root cause issues.

The 4.1 version of Nutanix OS (NXOS) was released in February and brought with it multiple new features. Many of these features would be worthy of being included in a major version update from most vendors. The following are several of the major features released in this version:

    • Metro Availability – With the 4.1 update Nutanix is now offering synchronous storage replication for the sole function of building a vSphere Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC). A vMSC allows for a single vSphere cluster to be stretched across data center sites to allow workloads to be run at either site. This provides a higher level of availability than traditional clusters.
    • Data At Rest Encryption – The ability to encrypt data is a requirement of several customer verticals. Nutanix uses a combination of self-encrypting drives and key management to provide the solution that is managed through the Prism interface.
    • Cloud Connect – This allows VMs to be individually replicated to the Amazon cloud for DR protection. Protection policies can be established on a per-VM basis that manages snapshots to control how often they are replicated and what the retention time should be. A software version of the Nutanix platform is created and run in an Amazon EC2 instance by Prism. This allows customers to create a single cloud instance to replicate to or use multiple instances in different regions for a distributed approach.
    • Hypervisor Upgrades – The previous NXOS version offered one-click storage upgrades. The 4.1 version brings this same approach to hypervisor upgrades. The process currently supports vSphere and Hyper-V.

Along with several other new features the update brings STIG security enhancements that are enabled by default.

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