Tag: SAN

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

…so said Leonardo Da Vinci.  Why make things hard?  Why make your own life harder when with some effort everything can be simplified and better.  This is our approach and it touches Nutanix employees as well as our customers.Leon says relax

The one thing that still staggers customers about Nutanix is how flipping easy it is to get blocks installed into their environment.  To give you an idea of how I do it and the time it takes from getting a completely blank (or even previously configured proof of concept box) installed, take a look at this:

  1. Image the server.  We and our partners use a tool called Foundation which pushes a vanilla image of ESX, Hyper-V or KVM down to the nodes with Nutanix software configured. This takes 50 mins because we do it over a 1GB switch and is automated.
  2. Configure the new cluster.   Here we just add in IP addresses for the hosts, management ports and Nutanix CVM. This takes 2 mins via an intuitive webpage or you can do it via the NCLI if you want to appear a true geek.
  3. Create the storage pool.  Another 14 seconds.
  4. Create the first container, its policies and present to hosts.  This final stage took me 22 seconds.

That’s it.

Total time for me is under an hour.  Total time for the customer under 10 minutes (if you include racking time!)

Now we’re at the stage where the customer can start building VMs (aka doing the things that matter) while the infrastructure becomes invisible – just as it should be.

At no point do they need to revisit the storage other than to create new containers or change policies.

Go order something from VCE, NetApp, EMC or any SAN and try doing the same thing.  In fact try to do the same thing with any hyper converged competitor as well.

This is the power of simplicity and it’s only going to get easier for our customers.


Robocop_Mediabreak_Casey_Wong_jpg_878×473_pixelsYou may well be a loser.  If you look after a SAN for virtualisation you’re a loser.

Now, you’re going to take that the wrong way, I know that.  My point is you’re losing time.  Time from doing more productive things like shopping on Amazon, getting a high score on Forza or making a cup of tea.  You may even be better suited to getting some real work done.

Anyway, to show you just how flipping easy Nutanix makes creating storage for your hypervisor I recorded a very simple video.  In it you’ll see how to provision a container which to ESX is a datastore.  I’ll also show you how that presents itself to ESX, how to unmount it from a particular host and also add some policies around dedupe and compression.

If you can use an iPhone you can use Nutanix.

“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.

WebScale & the SAN Hangover

A three node cluster

A three node cluster

Before I joined Nutanix one month ago I was trying to explain the concept of WebScale to a friend and as with most things I used the analogy of going for a beer.  It’s currently 27 degrees in the UK with nothing but blue sky and there are few things better to help along an English summer along than a cold pint.

The traditional way of buying storage + compute is like ordering ten pints of very strong ale all at once because you might possibly, over the next several hours of an evening, drink that much.  And, as with most IT SAN purchases, you may as well buy the strongest and most expensive one on the menu because you don’t want to be left thirsty – or out of grunt and capacity.  The reality is most organisations either don’t know their final requirements – because things change rapidly in this world – and run out of resources or more likely they never actually use it all and end up wasting their money.

In short, SANs are like a table of warm stale beer.

There’s also so much complexity in the old ways as well with fabrics, bespoke hardware, LUNs, RAID groups,

A three node cluster with a node or CVM failure.  Oh look the data is safe and available!

No loss of data

aggregates, zoning, configuring failover, presenting it all to the hypervisors and actually getting your SAN team to talk to the virtualisation guys.  Back at the bar you’ll have to learn how to pull a pint, build the brewery, take up farming to grow the hops and maybe even employ another farmer and barman for when you go on holiday or fall ill.  Worse still if you don’t like the taste after a year then you have to do it all over again because upgrading means a disruptive replacement process.

The Nutanix approach to scaleability – one part of what we define as WebScale – is paying for one drink at a time.  If you feel thirsty after the first pint – you need more compute and storage – you just order another node, plug it in, do a couple of clicks in Prism and you’re done.  Another cold pint of Nutanix goodness with minimal effort and a Nutanix cluster expanded in moments with zero down time.

A three node cluster expanded  to four, with no downtime.   Wonderful!

A three node cluster expanded
to four, with no downtime.

If you decided to change from beer (NX3000) to Redbull (NX1000) to wine (NX6000) to Jager (the NX7000) Nutanix also allows you to mix your drinks…without the hangover of having to re-do all that work.  Come to think of it a few customers have mixed the NX1000 with a couple of NX7000s for GPU acceleration to make Nutanix Jagerbombs 🙂

Managing a SAN, especially speccing it and scaling it to last over several years as a business or project grows, seems like a lot of hard work to me.  Unnecessarily so.  The Nutanix platform is predictable and scalable and that’s just one thing that Webscale means to me and is enjoyed by our customers and partners.




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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