Nutanix has been one of the most innovative HCI companies rolling out new products and features in abundance since the first release in 2011. At Nutanix .NEXT 2019 in Anaheim, CA, the company continued that practice. This Industry Snapshot will detail those product announcements, both recently released and in development, and discuss what they mean for companies from the large enterprise on down.
Xi Cloud Services is a public cloud service offered by Nutanix that is fully integrated with the Nutanix platform. In November of 2018, Nutanix released five Xi Cloud services and announced updates to Xi Leap and Xi Frame at .NEXT 2019. Xi Leap DR service is supported on Nutanix AHV, with VMware ESXi support planned for June 2019. Xi Frame is a VDI “Desktop as a Service” platform that runs on AWS and Azure, enabling applications to be run in a browser on connected devices. At .NEXT 2019, Nutanix announced that Frame now supports workloads to be run locally, on a Nutanix (AHV) cluster as well, while maintaining the control plane in the cloud.
Karbon is a Kubernetes platform running on Nutanix, designed to simplify provisioning, operations and management of containers in Kubernetes. Nutanix Container Storage Interface (CSI) provides persistent block and file storage, and when released, Nutanix Buckets will provide object storage for Karbon.
Last month, Nutanix and HPE announced a partnership offering two more options with which to consume Nutanix HCI software, both scheduled for GA in Q32019. The new HPE ProLiant DX server line running Nutanix AOS will be available from Nutanix partners. These nodes will come in 1U and 2U chassis with 1-, 2- and 4-node configurations with advanced hardware security features and HPE SPP (Service Pack for ProLiant) one-click firmware upgrades. For support on the ProLiant DX nodes, HPE will take hardware calls and Nutanix will take software calls, but both companies pledge to coordinate handling support issues. HPE partners will have a new offering for HPE GreenLake infrastructure as a service, using Nutanix AOS on ProLiant DX nodes.
Nutanix also introduced a number of features that were “in development”, with most scheduled to be released later this year.
Mine creates a platform for running backup applications on a Nutanix cluster. The integration with Veeam was announced at .NEXT 2019 (Nutanix Mine with Veeam) as were integrations with HYCU, CommVault and Rubrik. This partnership gives these software vendors a scale-out appliance platform they don’t have to develop and, with Nutanix support for files and object storage (see Buckets), and gives Nutanix an entree into the secondary storage market.
Xi Test Drive is a project to run Nutanix AOS and AHV natively on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). When Xi Cloud was first announced at .NEXT 2017, the plan was to collocate Xi Cloud Services on GCP. This represents a step forward from the plan, enabling a common management and security interface. The use cases for this are cloud-native development and DR with Xi Leap from on-premises Nutanix clusters to the Google Cloud.
Nutanix in AWS is Nutanix clusters running on AWS EC2 bare-metal instances. The goal is to provide a hybrid cloud experience between an on-premises Nutanix cluster and the same software running in AWS. The primary use case is the seamless bursting to the AWS cloud when on-premises capacity is low, using existing AWS accounts and credits. Companies will also be able to “hibernate” workloads on AWS S3 storage when not running and pay no AWS compute costs. Cloud native development will also be supported with Nutanix in AWS.
Nutanix Move migrates VMs from the public cloud (VMs in AWS) to the on-premises cloud (AHV on Nutanix cluster). The ability to migrate existing workloads into AHV from local VMware hosts or bare-metal servers was originally released as Xtract for VMs. Move adds the ability to migrate VMs from AWS.
Files Analytics is an auditing API that provides real time information about file-related events, such as read/write, creation/deletion, permissions, etc., that is used for trending capacity and usage, plus providing real time monitoring of files usage behavior that can indicate potential anomalies (suspicious activity, potential viruses, etc.). Analytics is in Tech Preview with the current Nutanix Files version 3.5.
Buckets is an object storage layer, designed with an S3-compatible REST API interface, that runs on the Nutanix AOS distributed storage fabric (DSF). DSF creates a common storage pool across the nodes in the cluster. Since the Nutanix architecture is based on the Google File System, Buckets, like Nutanix’s file and block services runs on top of a file system. Object storage services provides a cost-effective, long-term archive, WORM file protection and simple cloud-compatible storage.
Nutanix typically provides a dizzying array of new products, new features and updates at the .NEXT conference, and this year was no exception. The company started on the journey to provide an “Enterprise Cloud Platform” two years ago and seems to be finally fulfilling that mission, although, the Xi Cloud Services collection, originally planned for early 2018 release, didn’t come out until November. As companies make their move to hybrid and multi-cloud environments, Nutanix’s Xi Cloud Services is addressing some of their needs around DR, VDI, edge computing and multi-cloud data management.
The HPE partnership is extremely interesting, although the reasons given for this working arrangement were simply to increase the number of options customers have to deploy Nutanix software. While no comments were made by HPE or Nutanix to this effect, it does beg some questions about the future of current HPE HCI products and the future relationship between these two companies.
The Nutanix Mine products were presented as data protection options, addressing one area of concern for HCI buyers, according to the current Evaluator Group study, “CI – HCI in the Enterprise, 2019”. A more significant opportunity for Nutanix than providing a backup solution, is to get into the scale-out secondary storage infrastructure market that many associate with Cohesity and Rubrik, although the latter is also a Mine partner.
Nutanix is well ahead of most major HCI vendors in handling unstructured data. They were early in the HCI market releasing Acropolis Block Services and Acropolis File Services (now called “Nutanix Files”) two years ago, and are now preparing to launch object storage as well. Where most other HCI vendors are positioning their multi-protocol storage capabilities as more of a convenience, a way to eliminate silos of infrastructure, Nutanix seems to be positioning Files as a replacement for a primary NAS array.
Their public-cloud integration with AWS is behind VMware which has VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on AWS and on VxRail HCI. Dell EMC also released a Data Center-as-a-Service with VMware Cloud Foundation running on VxRail and connected to AWS. Based on the Dell EMC / VMware Cloud portfolio, these development projects with AWS will be key for Nutanix.
Nutanix CEO, Dheeraj Panday, said Nutanix is in the “messy middle”, between a start-up and an established infrastructure company and commented that they’re less focused on vision, than they have been at past .NEXT conferences, and more on execution. According to Panday in previous statements, the recent dip in Nutanix stock price (which has rebounded somewhat), was caused by a lack of attention to sales and marketing details, not a lack of technology or new product development. As the company moves forward it will need to dedicate resources on this execution strategy possibly at the expense of product development.