Month: May 2017

Network Automation – “The Last Mile”

With so many organisations looking to increase their ability to react to business change and continually do more with ever reducing resources, automation is the only way to solve the challenge. Nutanix has pioneered the simplification of traditional datacentre infrastructure from compute, to storage and virtualisation but many customers I speak to ask about the network.

The Dynamic Duo

Network automation appears to the be the “last mile” in their journey to a fully automated datacentre and with the SDN market place rather fragmented it’s tough for organisations to pick a solution which completes the loop.

Many organisations are also embracing a DevOps methodology to improve the processes around development and release management of new and existing applications, ultimately driving their innovation goals – with that comes the requirement to provision infrastructure in rapid time.

The public cloud has provided a great benchmark for witnessing what can be achieved through automation. Let’s face it before AWS came along how long did it take to deploy a virtual machine, on a new network within a new datacentre…..a long time. You’d spend a huge amount of time just ensuring that you had compatible kit, let alone the process of deploying hypervisors, their supporting management infrastructure, provisioning and connecting storage environments etc.….with public cloud that is all abstracted away which enables businesses to move faster.

Nutanix aims to solve the rapid deployment challenge and on-going scaling requirements whilst ensuring that “day 2” operations are also streamlined, just like in the public cloud where the infrastructure building blocks are invisible. To aid in this journey Nutanix have partnered with Mellanox to provide the automation and simplification of “day 2” operations for common network tasks to complete the loop.

Mellanox are a leading supplier of end-to-end Ethernet and InfiniBand intelligent interconnect solutions and services for servers, storage, and hyper-converged infrastructure.

Mellanox switches have a REST-based API called NEO which enables tasks such as VLAN provisioning and trunking on the appropriate ports utilised by the Nutanix nodes. This enables consumers of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform to forget about VLAN provisioning requests, as these are automatically setup and migrated as VM’s move within the Nutanix infrastructure, ultimately ensuring that applications get access to the appropriate networks to communicate. This enables developers and operations teams to concentrate on delivering real business value and get on with developing the next business defining application!

Here are a couple of video’s walking through the integration. In the first example a VM will be migrated from Node A to Node B, as we automate the configuration of the VLAN on the Mellanox switches VLAN’s are only configured as required – in real-time, rather than trunking all existing VLAN’s on all ports.

In the second example we create a new VM within the Nutanix Prism console, just like the previous example the combination of Prism and NEO take care of the VLAN provisioning task ensuring that the consumer of the Enterprise Cloud Platform can get on with doing just that – consuming it, just like in the public cloud.

If you would like to know more about Nutanix and how we deliver and Enterprise Cloud Platform, check out our website;

If you would like to find out more about Mellanox and their intelligent interconnect solutions, take a look at their website;

Thanks for reading


Consider the Source

Ever met one of those people that likes to keep learning long before they’ve faked interest at school and scraped through some exams?  Well recently that has been me.  While waiting for Nutanix upgrades to complete (during the day, no down time – you get the drill) I’ve found time for educational publications and none have made more of an impression than the 1984 classic “The Man With the Gold.”  Is this a self-help book perhaps?  Maybe the musing of a Harvard scholar?  No, this is the autobiography of Mr T.

Yes, that Mr T.

This Mr T.

In one particular chapter he talks about the peer pressure young kids face in his neighbourhoods and the harsh words others will use against them to force them down one particular path.  This is pretty relevant to the line of work I’m in and the customers I talk to so before we continue with this unusual parallel between the musings of a TV star and the world of software read what he wrote:

I know about peer pressure and all that, but I say, “Hey, they called me a sissy because I wouldn’t join a gang. Who was calling me a sissy? Does it make me a sissy because somebody called me a sissy?” […] I’m going to fight if you touch me or hurt me or do harm to my family. But if you call me a bad name, or whatnot, I’m too smart for that. That’s the message the kids need to hear coming from me. I tell them, “If I fought every time somebody called me a name, I would never get out of jail. But I’m disciplined. I’m smarter than that.”

So I tell them, like my mother said, “Consider the source.

When you see who called you the name, then you understand why they’re doing it. Then you don’t have to stoop that low.

In pretty much every meeting I attend stories from the competition come up about Nutanix.  For example, did you know “Nutanix doesn’t scale, has awful performance, loses data if a node or disk fails, uses 100GB of RAM for our CVM” etc etc.  All news to me.

Now, consider the source of those stories and why they’re saying such things.  The competition is out to discredit Nutanix.  Not through proof points but through FUD shaped as fact.  Many do this before we’ve even been able to ask the customer about their business requirements – you know, the real reason people want to talk to vendors – but that’s been the way in business for decades and it’s time it changed.

In the field we prefer the open and honest approach to answering critics and that’s what I’d like to touch on today.

Firstly we can and will always have hundreds of customer references to call upon.  Our customers are our biggest advocates and none of them are told to say anything nice about us, only the truth.  We can confidently say we’ve got all avenues covered from verticals to applications so finding someone “just like you, sir” isn’t going to be too hard thanks to the thousands of customers who’re already in our family.

Next, and this happens quite frequently, we can run live and unfiltered proof of concepts.  This is a great way to get customers hands-on with the product and test the systems and processes that are critical to them.  We’ve ran these on customer sites and on our extensive hosted platform where customers can do everything to a Nutanix cluster remotely from the comfort of their desk, including destructive testing, to ensure it does what it should.

Finally, and this is the one I really love, a number of our SEs in the UK have put together something very special called Tech Bootcamps.  This is a day long session (with food and beer afterwards) where 10 to 20 attendees from different companies can learn the technology together and also perform the testing required for their success.  We run these roughly twice a quarter and they’ve been a huge success so far.  We have seen them cut down the time customers spend ticking off the basics while getting first-hand experience on the finer details pertinent to their business requirements.  In 90% of cases we’re not asked for on-site or hosted POCs after this which helps their own project timelines no end.  All because we’ve addressed all of the FUD from their source quickly and efficiently.

Keep an eye out for these being advertised by the UK team and please come along whether you’re already engaged with us or have something we might be able to help with.  Don’t worry, no sales people are allowed to attend 🙂

Taking this approach has the added value of showing who is the humble, honest and hungry one to work alongside and that goes a long way to building the most important part in any relationship – trust.

So the next time you see FUD thrown in a meeting, before you’ve even met the other vendors, just ask yourself why they’re name calling and how you can get the proof points you need objectively and honestly.

…and if they do keep going on about it here’s a few things you can tell them, from Mr T himself



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