What You Missed at Nutanix .NEXT 2020
By Michael Colonno, Manager of Data Center Solutions, CDI
Another Nutanix .NEXT has come and gone, and you can check out my 2019 recap here to see if any of my thoughts and predictions from last year came true!
Many things in our current work world are simplified and easier. I don’t use the word “better” because that’s too subjective. However, I am highly prejudice that no matter how well virtual conferences are done, they just can’t substitute in person. I feel conferences are a way to immerse yourself in the technology, separate yourself from your normal day-to-day and socialize with peers of all levels. Let me say that Nutanix did a fantastic job with this virtual conference and there were very few hiccups in service. Earlier this year, CDI hosted its CDI Tech Summit II at a much smaller scale, and I can tell you that it’s not easy!
One of my favorite features was the ability to play back sessions, which allowed me to attend more sessions than would be physically possible. The playback feature is one I hope continues moving forward, or perhaps a subset of the total sessions are recorded.
The keynote on day one started with Dheeraj Pandey, who just announced that he will be stepping down (though I have been told that he will still be very involved). All calls and events these days have to involve COVID, he did a good job not making this a negative but casting it as an opportunity to accelerate digital transformation. Current conditions are now driving companies towards a hybrid cloud/software defined future. Through some great story telling of the history of technology advancements – from Sun Microsystems to virtualization – and finally to the Automation and Orchestration boom, he spun the tale of how the Nutanix Platform is uniquely positioned for this new world by looping together Cloud Consolidation, Automation and governance.
Several guest speakers were able to give great examples of how Nutanix helped them during this new forced remote world. Many things that we deem as needing a physical interaction, such as medical appointments, now needed to be enabled remotely. First, you have the staff who are usually at the physical location now needing remote access. You also have hospital groups (such as the one which spoke at the keynote) getting creative. An example of this creativity is enabling people remotely by providing kiosks at medical centers for those who don’t have the ability to use computers and laptops
There were many announcements, too many to cover here, so I’ll only focus on a few that I think are true differentiators in the space, or that I personally found exciting for our global customers. I encourage you to reach out to myself (Michael.Colonno@cdillc.com) or my team to dive deeper into any of the topics.
RUN BETTER: Next-Gen HCI
- Foundation Central
- AOS Blockstore and SPDK
- Trusted Files and Objects Services
- Prism Ultimate and App Insights
- Flow Security Central
- Nutanix Insights
- Virtual Networking
- Nutanix Central
RUN FASTER: Build and Deploy Apps Faster
- Karbon PaaS
- Calm as-a-Service
- Era and SAP HANA
RUN ANYWHERE: Freedom of Choice Across any Cloud
- Nutanix Clusters
- On AWS
- On Azure
- Service Providers
- Nutanix Cloud
Clusters on Azure: .NEXT on Nutanix Clusters on Azure with Microsoft
One of the main differences with Clusters is that it brings your own public cloud licensing. This fits a lot of organizations looking to move to public cloud and can be a huge advantage if you already have cloud spend and maybe able to get ‘compute’ for a cheaper price than may be available to the average person with a credit card. This also means it’s beyond easy to treat this as an Edge to your native public cloud, because it’s literally sitting in it. For our financial friends this also means simplified billing and visibility.
The possible downside is that you’ll see these systems in a subscription, highlighting the importance of how you organize them and to ensure access is only given to those who know not to manipulate the bare-metal instances. However, even though you are responsible for managing these systems, just like on-premises hardware — they can still be maintained through Nutanix Central and be part of Lifecycle Management.
I am a fan of both Clusters and VMC because they are like a cheat code to the cloud; there’s no need to refactor applications, making the lift and shift extremely easy. This can even be a test bed to see how your applications work off premises.
Check out: Microsoft Azure Partnership
I feel this service gets overlooked simply because Database Administrators (DBAs) are not always engaged as part of infrastructure projects. The name of the ERA game is one-click simplicity, like so many things at Nutanix. Yes, one click will be your future, but remember it’s not that easy on day one. Just like anything worth doing, there is a bit of work to get things set up. But, if you go through a few test drives you’ll see it’s not a heavy lift. The idea is to deliver an API first architecture that quickly provisions DBs, whether its production or clones, while giving developers self-service deployment. This makes it easy to refresh and manage DBs across all iterations of their lifecycle.
- One click provisioning
- One click database cloning/refresh/rollback
- One click snapshotting
- One click patching
Another possible hesitation has been that it runs on AHV, but the reality is you never even touch the hypervisor directly for most administration since you use the ERA GUI. Besides, what DBA’s ever go into VMware?
Also, it is licensed specifically for DBs and you don’t have to pay for additional hypervisor overhead? This is so powerful on Nutanix because of their data locality: you have the database information on the same bus as the live DB/VM. Why wouldn’t people do this for at least Test/Dev?
The databases supported are Oracle/SQL/PostgresSQL/MYSQL/MariaDB and now SAP HANA!!!! This is huge! This means not only is Nutanix software certified to run SAP HANA but now you can have the simplicity that ERA brings. Furthermore, the announcement of Blockstore and SPDK support for NVMe will also be a significant advancement for HANA. Though I am not going in-depth with this, I do encourage you to look into it. It’s impressive because when there are hardware advancements, Nutanix actually changes the way the software works to take advantage of it. Their system will use NVMe as SSD storage and Persistent Memory. Imagine using a system that uses both.
- Watch Nutanix Principle Engineer explain Blockstore and SPDK in depth
- Read the Blockstore and SPDK announcement blog
Everything as-a-Service and Cloud Hosted
Foundation Central (not GA yet) though it’s an easy explanation, it is a huge help to global customers and customers with remote offices. Foundation Central can create clusters from factory-imaged nodes and reimage existing nodes that are already registered with it, remotely from Prism Central. CDI has typically helped its customers by pre-staging in our lab before sending to its final location, but this allows us to only finalize the configuration once it’s in place. This means once we are done, physically everything else can be done remotely, significantly reducing travel time.
Prism Ultimate allows you to get fantastic granular metrics that most systems can’t give you in such a clean fashion. In VMware we have items like ESXTOP and VROPS to give us this level of information, but unless you are very well-versed or create custom dashboards, it’s hard to get the information. This leads to preemptive actionable alerts within Nutanix with Xplay (examples from last years .NEXT here). This becomes a very similar story to CDI’s Zero Touch Operations story, and with the Xplay plugin into ServiceNow, you can add even more correlational power to integrate other tools such as Application Monitoring.
Nutanix Central (not GA yet) is a single management console for the hybrid cloud world. It can do what you would assume, which is manage all Prism Central/Element instances globally, but the big differentiator is non-AHV private cloud, public cloud and cloud native applications. The overused term “single pane of glass” is great, but why is this important? Think operational day-two monitoring/management and Role Based Access Controls (RBAC). The Xi Beam product will now also be integrated into this system giving you the ability to not just have the visibility described above, but to do costing, metering, chargeback, and governance for your public cloud workloads. This system is similar the VMware’s CloudHealth product.
Global SaaS management Plane: this will be a direct competitor to Tanzu. This will give you multi-cloud visibility and the ability to manage containers hosted anywhere. This platform will have one click lifecycle management just like you are used to on Nutanix systems themselves, while providing many Application Runtime services such as, Kubernetes apps (container as-a-service), functions and data pipelines (functions as-a-service), AI Inferencing (ML model management and AI Inferencing runtime), Ingress controllers, Service Mesh, Data Streaming/Messaging, and Logging/Monitoring/Alerting.
Something I will leave you; HCI/SDS is not for every environment and I say that for two reasons:
1. Not every company’s cultural is ready for it
2. Though Nutanix and others have limited the list of applications not optimized for HCI, there are still some
Before this year SAP HANA was definitely one of them, but that has changed. What I will say however is if we take off our Nutanix hats and look at VMware’s VMware on AWS/Azure, what is it based on? It’s SDS! Would a company like VMware bet their hybrid cloud future on a technology that doesn’t work or shouldn’t have our trust? I don’t think so and nor should you. Nutanix and their Cluster system is a natural progression because SDS is their foundation, so why wouldn’t it work in the cloud?
Once again, if you have any questions or you’re up for a friendly debate, my DMs are always open!
Well, that’s a wrap on .NEXT 2020. I’m excited to see some of the non-GA products come out. I’m also excited to see what VMworld 2020 will look and feel like since so many of the advancements described above are in direct competition with VMware.
One last thought: the vSAN 7.0 update 1 is available now – read about it here.