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Nutanix .NEXT Virtual Conference Recap - Day 1

Get a quick daily recap of the announcements and sessions from Nutanix .NEXT conference.

September 8, 2020 7 minute read

Nutanix is hosting their .NEXT conference this week, and we're trying to give a condensed list of announcements and notes from sessions we were able to attend. This is our recap for Day 1. This is not all-inclusive so if you think we missed something really important, post a comment below and we can update the article accordingly.

Keynote

We're huge fans of Simon Sinek as you might have guessed from another article I wrote on hyper-converged infrastructure a little while ago. There was great dialogue between Simon and Dheeraj that hit on the concepts of "why" and the idea of "The Infinite Game." We won't get into details of the talk, but you can watch the whole keynote. If you're looking specifically for the Simon talk, skip ahead to the 1:07:00 mark.

Nutanix Clusters in Azure

During the keynote, Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of Microsoft Cloud and AI Group helped announce that Nutanix Clusters will be available in Azure Cloud. A demo of the functionality was done and it looked pretty awesome. Very similar to how Nutanix has implemented Clusters with AWS, the deployment of Nutanix Clusters in the Azure cloud is just as easy and also done through Prism Central. A few things we heard that are worth noting:

  • At initial release this will be US-based data centers only, but will be expanding as the product evolves.
  • Portability of licenses between on-premises clusters and cloud-based clusters will be allowed.
  • Customers can use the Azure Marketplace to acquire Nutanix licensing.
  • Ability to use most Azure services to the Nutanix clusters running in Azure.
  • Ability to consume Azure Arc services on-premises with Nutanix.

One thing we're not quite clear on yet is the release date for Clusters in Azure. As a point of reference, last year at .NEXT, Nutanix showcased Clusters in AWS and it was just recently released. We expect this functionality to be quicker as Nutanix is not re-inventing the wheel and applying lessons learned.

HCI or HCI?

Years and years of hearing acronyms makes some of them become second nature. Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) is one of those when speaking data center technologies... until today. Dheeraj referred to the journey of Nutanix HCI moving towards a new meaning: hybrid cloud infrastructure (HCI).

While we're not big on marchitecture, we do think that Nutanix has one of the better stories to truly fit the definition and warrant the change. Nutanix cut their teeth in the core hyper-converged infrastructure business but has evolved their portfolio to give full solutions to customers that are both on-premises and extend to the cloud.

Everything as a Service

We don't have many details on this yet, but it appears that Lenovo announced a pay-as-you-grow Nutanix as a Service offering, allowing customers to move from a CapEx model to an OpEx model. This is a good thing for Nutanix (and Lenovo), as we do feel it was something missing from their portfolio. We hope other hardware vendors will follow Lenovo's lead and jump on the "as a Service" train with Nutanix.

Session recaps

Below are some quick recaps of some of the sessions we were able to join.

Nutanix Clusters: Hybrid cloud infrastructure

As mentioned above, a big announcement during the keynote was Nutanix Clusters in Azure. We also noted that this was already released for AWS. This session covered some additional details of the general use case of extending AOS to public clouds:

  • Ability to lift and shift workloads.
  • On-demand elasticity without acquiring additional hardware but keeping the single interface look and feel.
  • Business continuity (disaster recovery to the public cloud).
  • Native cloud services consumption.

One thing we found interesting was the Hibernate option utilizing S3 storage. Customers do not need or want to pay for compute resources of their Nutanix environment in the cloud when they don't need it. Combining AWS S3 with Nutanix Clusters allows the ability to save cluster states and spin things back up on-demand. This is a great use case for application development, testing or seasonal workload bursts.

Intel Optane SSDs for Nutanix

Intel and Nutanix are expanding their partnership by certifying Intel Optane SSDs. One of the more important aspects of this partnership is that Nutanix isn't simply relying on the performance of the Intel Optane SSDs, but has also spent a lot of engineering time optimizing the AOS software to squeeze as much performance out of the drives as possible. Here are some metrics we saw:

  • 1 VM with 1 virtual disk 100 percent random write with queue depth of 1: the mean latency was 0.23ms (that's not a typo).
  • Compared to an all Intel SSD solution with AOS 5.15.1 vs Intel Optane SSD with new version of AOS, a 4 VM (1 virtual disk per) 70/30 R/W random workload with a  queue depth of 4, the Optane solution showed an increase in the mean IOPS of 37 percent.

Putting this in context, this can open doors for high-performance workloads such as databases. Tie the performance of Intel Optane with Nutanix Era, and it's like a match made in heaven.

Nutanix Files - Part 1

We wrote a three-part series on Nutanix Files some time ago and having watched this session and seeing what's coming, it will need some updates. There are some neat things coming from the team over at Nutanix. Below are a few that were mentioned.

From what we understood, a new feature will be released (in three phases) to Files in the next 6-12 months called Smart Sync. While Nutanix has had the ability to protect and replicate data for a long time, Smart Sync focuses on the Files product and giving customers flexibility. The timeframe for these phased releases are in the Q4 CY20 and Q1 CY21.

  • Phase 1: File Share DR - The ability to replicate at the individual share level vs. full file server failover. This would take a read/write share and replicate it to a remote site as a read-only share.
  • Phase 2: Data Consolidation - The ability to take multiple read/write shares and replicate them to a single read-only share. This feature is intriguing in that it could allow post-processing jobs to be performed on non-production environments, alleviating potential performance impacts.
  • Phase 3: Home Directory Synchronization - Ability to have bi-directional synchronization of user file shares in an active-active environment. Details on network requirements are TBD, but the idea behind this is to allow user shares to be accessible no matter which site is being written to.

The last thing we saw from Part 1 of the Nutanix Files update is a visualization of all file shares and the ability to quickly identify shares that may not be meeting replication schedules and drill down into those errors. This will be great for troubleshooting and ensuring the data is being protected.

As mentioned above, this was only part one of a two-part series but as a teaser to join the next session, the product management team showed that we'd be covering analytics and a much-anticipated topic on cloud tiering. Can't wait for that!

Day 1 success

Overall, the conference went off without a hitch. Some of us might have experienced a temporary 503 Service Unavailable issue but hey, that happens. 

Get our recap of conference Day 2 and reach out with any questions.

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