Nutanix; VDI made simple

Today I had a call with Nutanix. I saw them at VMworld for the first time and saw them again last week in Palo Alto, Ca. Many other bloggers already wrote articles about them, like Duncan Epping.

The mission of Nutanix is; “To make virtualization simple by eliminating the need for network storage while still delivering the enterprise-class performance, scalability and data management features you need”

Sounds promising! Solutions that can make virtualization (and in my case VDI) simple are most welcome. There are too many articles, blogs etc stating VDI is difficult and expensive. I’m sure Nutanix might be able to change that feeling!

So, what is Nutanix all about? Basically, Nutanix’s Complete Cluster is hardware, software and virtualization put together as a building block. A building block consists of nodes (servers) which have CPU, memory, local storage (SSD’s and hard disks) and a hypervisor (ESXi).

The beauty is that local storage from the nodes is virtualized into a pool. It is called Scale-Out Converged Storage. This SCOS is made out of so called Controller VM’s. Each node has 1 Controller VM running. All Controller VM’s communicate with each other and create a distributed storage system. Data tiering and HOT caching are some of the features. VM’s running on a node can write to any place within the cluster.  Do you need more compute power or storage, just add a next building block. With this, although you have local storage, all enterprise features like HA, DRS and VMotion just work!

A building block can host 4 nodes maximum. Each node is a 2U rack server base don Super Micro, and has 2x Intel CPU’s with 6 cores. For storage performance it uses FusionIO ioDrive, a SATA SSD and SATA HDD’s. Lastly, memory starts from 48GB to 192GB.  Hypervisor is vSphere 5.x.

So, let’s add it up quickly; per 4 nodes;

8 CPU’s x 6 cores= 48 cores, 1.3TB of FusionIO ioDrive, 1.2TB of SATA SSD, 20TB of SATA HDD, 192GB-768GB RAM

I think this is pretty amazing. 1 company, 1 solution, 1 support organization for your building block (hardware and software). You can put all use cases on this system; floating pools AND dedicated pools. There are VMware papers out there describing VMware View and local SSD storage but that’s only suitable for floating pools. Dedicated pools require HA possibilities which Nutanix can deliver

Very important to me; partners/resellers don’t have to worry about VDI and IO challenges because they aren’t there. The SSD and FusionIO card provide enough IO’s for the VM’s, according to Nutanix.  This way, IO concerns become less important.

What I need to figure out is CAPEX and price per desktop. Technically, it will work for sure but cost is also a huge factor. I bet it can compete with big SAN’s but I believe the biggest competitor of VDI is a status quo, not changing, staying with physical desktops.  Price per desktop should be close to that of a physical PC. OPEX savings you will get with VDI will be a bonus.  To be continued on this topic.

So, I’m convinced of this solution, mainly because it does make VDI simple. That’s a good thing for partners/resellers and customers. No headaches anymore about sizing and no horror stories about bad implementations and slow performance because of storage miscalculations. Also, price is pretty much linear; you scale out.

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