Month: May 2015

Size matters but it’s ok to be smaller

Here’s a short post without the usual rubbish I write.  Imagine that!  Well, my dinner is nearly ready, it’s a Friday, I’ve got 4 cold beers in the fridge and the daughter is trying to eat crayons.

I’ll be brief.

I’m part way through designing an infrastructure for a new customer who is looking to replace 39 IBM hosts and a whole mess of SANs and associated fabric.  In total they need five racks to put it all together while consuming 120TB of usable storage.  It’s an old environment and is ready for the future.

For legacy reasons they split their environment into three separate ESX clusters; one for the DMZ, one for SQL and one for the remaining production VMs.

Ignoring requirements for DR for a moment here’s what I need to put all that together and for your viewing pleasure I’m going to show you the output of our new sizing tool that we at Nutanix and our partners use to figure out what fits best.

Remember we have 5 racks filled with crap to take out.

To keep with with the separation the customer wants I’ve done three designs but they can all be part of the same cluster and will all fit into a single rack too.

Below you can see the specs of each cluster and the amount of VMs each one needs to support.  I’ve included the rack size just for giggles 🙂

 

Main VMware Cluster

Main VMware cluster sizing

Main VMware rack

SQL VMware Cluster

SQL VMware cluster

SQL VMware Rack

DMZ VMware Cluster

DMZ VMware Cluster

DMZ VMware Rack

 

So there you go.  5 racks down to 20U.

I’ll add some more notes to this about the various models and you can probably tell the the first cluster is using our new compute-lite 6035-C KVM nodes to bump up the total amount of storage.  We’re doing this because they need far more storage than compute and to add more nodes just wouldn’t make commercial sense.  But that’s the beauty of Nutanix, you just add what you need.

 

Anyway dinner and beer is calling.  Enjoy and stop buying SANs, for your own sake.

 

Nutanix Community Edition beta

Roll up, roll up, the Nutanix Community Edition is coming!

Nutanix_Web_Console

Up until now the only way to get your hands on our platform was to either be a potential customer with a proof of concept block in your datacentre, use one of our hosted data centres or to bribe me with F1 tickets.  Community Edition allows our software to be experienced on your own servers – be that in your home lab or your test environment at work.

This helps everyone in a lot of ways as end users, customers, partners and the community in general can now experience our software first hand without risk or cost.  Yes, no cost.  Community Edition is completely free.

Today Nutanix announced the private availability for the beta.  There are a couple of ways to get your hands on this:  You can join the waiting list here which will grant you access to download the installer, documentation, setup videos and the Nutanix Next community.  Another way to get hold of Community Edition is to have a friend already in the beta  who has some invitation codes so make sure you treat your NTPs nicely.

I may also have some codes to hand out later on so keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook pages in June.

Community Edition should work on most hardware out there but there are caveats in terms of server spec and quantity to be aware of.

Firstly this isn’t like a normal Nutanix cluster as it can run on just a single server (we call these nodes) but it can also use up to four if you want to create a traditional multi-node cluster.

Here are the highlights for the HCL:

  • Nodes: 1, 3 or 4*
  • CPU: Intel only, minimum of 4 cores, Intel VT-x
  • Memory: 16GB minimum
  • Storage: RAID 0 (LSI HBAs) or AHCI storage subsystems.
  • Hot Tier (SSD): 1x SSD minimum, 200GB minimum
  • Cold Tier (HDD): 1x HDD minimum, 500GB minimum
  • Networking: Intel NICs

Community Edition uses Replication Factor 1 (i.e. no data protection) if you use a single node but Replication Factor 2 is available if you have three or more.  Replication Factor is how we protect each 4k block of data so with RF1 the data is just there once but with RF2 there’s a copy of all 4k blocks on another node in the cluster to keep your data safe event if you lose a node – or just turn it off by mistake.

The software itself is closely based on NOS 4.1.3 although Metro Availability, Synchronous Replication, Cloud Connect and Prism Central as not part of Community Edition.  We do require Pulse (our call home functionality) to be turned on as well so we can see how the software is being used by you wonderful people.  For upgrades they will of course be completed live and without interruption just as with our commercial software.

Installation for Community Edition is via a bootable USB image that runs the KVM hypervisor and then drops the Nutanix Controller VM into the hot tier on each node.  After that the hypervisor runs from the USB stick and all VMs and heavy operations are ran from the local storage.  From here you can then use Prism to create and manage your VMs, networks etc.  Oh you didn’t know we already built a KVM control plane into our software?  Yep, it’s been there for a while 🙂  Create new VMs, networks, VLANs, DHCP scopes, clone, migrate, console access is all there out of the box.  More information on how to get set up will accompany the downloads but it’s very simple as you’d expect from Nutanix.

Support for Community Edition is via the Next Community forums so I highly recommend you sign up now if you haven’t already and I encourage you to participate and share your views, thoughts and experiences here and on the Next forums once it’s released.

 

*EDIT – Ooops!  Noob error.  I previously wrote we would support 1, 2, 3 & 4 nodes.  We aren’t supporting 2 node clusters so it’s only 1, 3 or 4 nodes for CE.  Cheers!

Quality assured, not assumed.

hackintosh-dell-mini-10v

Wow, bet that runs just like Steve intended!

There are two trains of thoughts in the world of hyper convergence.  One is to own the platform and provide an appliance model with a variety of choices for the customer based on varying levels of compute and storage.  Each box goes through thousands of hours of testing both aligned to and independent of the software that it powers.  All components are beaten to a pulp in various scenarios, ran to death and performance calibrated and improved at every step.  Apple has done this from its inception and has developed a vastly more reliable and innovative platform than any PC since.  Yes I’m a fanboy…

The other train is one that can (and has) been quickly derailed.

You create a nice bit of software, one that you also spend thousands of hours building and testing but when it comes to the platform you allow all manner of hardware as its base.  Processor, memory, manufacturer all are just names at this stage.  vSAN started its HCL last year as a massive Excel spreadsheet filled with a huge variety of tin most of which was guesswork and it showed by how that spreadsheet was received by the community.   Atlantis USX also uses a similar approach.  Choice of a thousands of flavours is great if you’re buying yogurt but not so good when your business relies on consistency and predictability – oh and a fast support mechanism from your vendor.  You can imagine the finger pointing when something goes wrong…

It’s the software that matters, of course, and while this statement is correct it’s only a half truth.

Unless you can accurately test and assure every possible server platform from every manufacturer your customers use then the supportability of the platform (that’s the hardware plus the software) is flawed.  If you can somehow do the majority you’re still in for a world of pain.  Controllers on the servers may differ.  Some SSDs may provide different performance in YOUR software regardless of their claimed speeds.  Suddenly the same software performs differently across hardware that is apparently the same.

98c20_sds-nutanix-bezel-v3-620x200

At Nutanix we’ve provided cutting-edge hardware from small footprint nodes to all-flash but never once have we not known the performance and reliability of our platform before it leaves the door and is powered up by a customer.  You can read about all six hardware platforms here.  When we OEM’d our software to Dell we gave the same level of QA to the HC appliances too.

We know our hardware platform and ensure that it works with the hypervisors we support.  We then know our software works with those hypervisors.  We own and assure each step to provide 100% compatibility.  If you’re just the software on top, you have thousands of possible permutations to assure.  Sorry I mean assume.

We own it all from top to bottom and the boxes, regardless of their origin or components, are 100% Nutanix.  This is how we can take and resolve support questions and innovate within the platform without external interference.  Customers love the simplicity of the product as you probably know but their is an elegance in also displaying a structured yet flexible hardware platform.  Ownership is everything.

I’ve lost count of the flack I’ve taken by “not being software only” as that’s “the only way to be truly software defined.”

What bollocks.

It is the software that matters but if as a company you cannot fully understand the impact your software has on the hardware it must run on then the only person you’re kidding is yourself and more worryingly the first person it hurts is your customer.

Let’s see who else follows the leader once again.

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