Tag: Nutanix (page 2 of 2)

“Simplify, then add lightness”

Colin Chapman

I’ve been working with an organisation for the past few months and I’m pleased to say they’re now a Nutanix customer and on the way to becoming a case study too.  They face challenges that more traditional customers would never experience but are critical hurdles to the way they run their business, so I thought you’d like to know a bit more about it and why Nutanix was such a great fit for them.

Colin Chapman, who founded Lotus (no they’re not the customer in question!) in 1948, had a brilliant way of describing his philosophy for motor cars:  “Simplify, then add lightness.”  It typified the approach Chapman took to achieve maximum performance without the anchors opposition cars were still proverbially dragging around behind them on road and track.

In many ways this reflects how Nutanix operates as well; we cut away the fat from administration, unnecessary complexity from the architecture and use commodity components (a bit like an Esprit then?) to ensure the best performance and reliability (so not an Esprit after all…)

Anyway, back to my customer.  They operate out of a site here in the UK but have ‘remote offices’ across the world.  The big difference to the shops you and I have worked in is that their IT systems are constantly traversing the globe.  Nothing stays still for long and while they’re online they have to be at maximum performance for a wide variety of workloads while also being in constant communication back to the UK.  It’s a very testing environment to say the least.  Before we put our arm around them they were a NetApp shop with all of the usual bits of hardware, administration and software costs that go along side it.  They also used the SAN to host their virtual machines on (I know, how 2003) which was just not giving them the performance they needed.

The first task was to show how we stacked up against their current architecture so I built a small three node cluster in around 10 minutes (including making two cups of tea) at their headquarters and within half an hour we had VMs migrated and running IOmeter and SQL benchmarking.

“It’s around ten times faster,” they said, after a week of testing.  Not bad for a single 2U block, huh?

By the way, setting up IOmeter in our distributed architecture is a bit different to the usual way of hammering a SAN so if you’re interested to know how just let me know and I’ll see if I can publish it.

So performance was a given and something that I had very little worry about and through these tests and a few failure simulations (cable kicks!) we showed them that our software could be relied upon in a far more volatile environment than a cosy datacenter.  We began to talk about the remote sites and that’s where the fun began and, coming back to todays theme, why I’m talking about lightness.

Exactly half of their Nutanix investment was to be in transit  and for the pleasure of doing so the customer is charged around $290 per KG by the shipping companies.  That’s a very expensive bag of sugar, don’t you think?  Now, imagine three racks filled with UPSs, switches, fabric, servers, NetApp controllers and disk shelves.  How many bags of sugar would you need to buy to balance all that?  A hell of a lot.

What if you could remove more than half of that weight instantly?

What if by using Nutanix you could save $150,000+ per year just in transportation costs?

That tastes rather sweet, don’t you agree?

The staggering fact is that by saving such a massive sum of money, in just three years the cost of the Nutanix solution is practically zero.

Ten times the performance, zero single points of failure, no limitations of scale and a constantly evolving platform to meet the needs of today and and the demands of tomorrow.

For nothing.

*** UPDATE ***

The customer in question is Williams Martini Racing and here’s a link to the case study.

A place called Change

Change is a scary place to tread for many reasons.  Doubt is a close and ever-present climate and the clouds overhead are filled with nothing but droplets of potential disaster.  The grass is a darker ominous hue and the ground is filled with cracks of famine.

Not only is the weather somewhat inclement but beware the monsters waiting to unsheathe their claws and reveal their teeth to keep you in check.

Change is not a nice place to be.

By far the most evil inhabitant of this world is the ever present lizard.  He stalks you wherever you tread, sitting on your shoulder tapping into your fears, telling you where is safe, where is best, where is easy.  Turn around and it’ll be better.  There, there.  Don’t worry.  The lizard will make it all better.  No more Change, no more fear and isn’t that grass green where you were anyway?

The lizard in question doesn’t walk next to you, it’s carried with you on every journey in every step.  It’s a personification certainly but it’s actually part of every one of us.  You see the lizard is you, more specifically it’s your Lizard Brain.  This concept has been around for a while but no-one has done a better job of explaining it than the writer, CEO, marketing God and amazing story teller Seth Godin.  In a brilliant book I read a few years ago called Linchpin, he describes the Lizard Brain as the part left by early man that wants to save us and keep us away from what it decides is harmful.  This could be the sabre tooth tiger, it could be the berry we shouldn’t taste or the unknown over the hill we definitely, completely, unquestionably should never look beyond.

The Lizard Brain crops up in modern times just as much as it did when your scruffy looking caveman ancestor was running away from that tiger or towards that cavewoman who looked like Raquel Welch.  If you want to do anything in the slightest bit different you can hear it saying “don’t do it.”  “Think about what you will lose and what will go wrong.”  “Everyone will laugh at you.”

Some people will be controlled by this from the day they’re born to the moment they die and I have no doubt they’ll live a happy life, after all their Lizard Brain is kept quiet.

Everyone says that IT is a permanent resident of Change and in some ways that’s true but I’m quickly seeing that many people are clinging to old ways because it’s easy and comfortable.  It’s how we’ve always done it and besides can’t you hear the Lizard Brain screaming at me?  I literally cannot hear myself think!

For me, I don’t like being shouted at and over the last few years I’ve learned to identify and fight back, sometimes just to show I can do it (try not scratching an itch if you want to test yourself – it’s very hard), but most recently because I have a firm belief that I want to do something different for the betterment of myself and those around me.  My Lizard Brain told me I shouldn’t change job, that there was too much to fear and lose and right up to the day I started he was getting louder and louder.  But I stopped listening.  I’ve learned to control him and focus on the possibilities of what is over that hill.  It can be a beautiful place with none of the clouds you heard about and those monsters are actually new friends who feel the same way and want to embrace change too because they also see the limitless benefits it can bring.

Take the example of Nutanix and the traditional SAN.  One is the way you’ve always done it so why not just repeat the process and be comfortable?  Buy another SAN.  Go ahead.  Don’t change.  But there are so many positives and wonderful things to be had from trying something different, especially when it comes to what we at Nutanix are passionate about with concepts like WebScale and a running your world on a true Hyper-Converged platform.  Maybe all you need to do is learn to turn that little sod into a nice wallet skin once in a while.

Whatever you do, even if that’s not approaching IT problems like SANs and choosing a Nutanix solution, even if it’s just identifying that he’s there trying to stop you achieving what you want, try to embrace change because it’s the best thing I’ve learned to live with and I’m very happy being a disruptor rather than the puppet of my own Lizard Brain.

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