Jul 22 2014

Implications of Nutanix SLA Management Plugin for DaaS Providers

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Last week I unveiled the new Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop (here). The plugin enables XenDesktop administrators to configure Service Level Agreements via the commonly used XenDesktop Studio graphical user interface. These user configurable SLAs are then translated into set a set of unique properties and values that are individually assigned to VMs and vDisks.

 

imgresThe fact that Nutanix is enabling XenDesktop administrators to take control over desktop availability and performance without major infrastructure requirements and complex workflows is a key differentiator. However, the implications for Service Providers offering DaaS solutions are even more game changer.

DaaS providers need to be able quickly scale their solutions and clouds, on-demand, and without service interruptions, independent of the technology being used to provision and broker virtual desktops. Nutanix already does that via a scale-out architecture and non-disruptive upgrades.

The Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop has a nice user interface and enable administrators to interface the SLA; but Nutanix is not limited to this plugin when it comes to assigning policies and properties. Nutanix engineering made sure that all features and functions available in the platform and external modules are exposed via APIs, enabling programmatic access to an extensive list of datacenter services.

In the DaaS use-case service providers are able to automate the SLA process applying properties via their own workflows and methods. These SLAs and properties can be exposed to tenant customers, enabling customers to decide the SLA for each individual or group of cloud desktops. Each desktop can have a different SLA or a set of properties assigned.

 

  • Backup (availability)
  • Snapshots (availability)
  • Replication (availability)
  • QoS (performance)
  • De-Duplication (capacity)
  • Compression (capacity)
  • Containers (tenancy)

 

When it comes to servicing DaaS it’s critical to be able to automatically define and assign SLAs that can be charged back to customers and tenants. Using Nutanix API’s service providers are able to query a single or multiple Nutanix clusters to find properties each desktops have been assigned and generate a report can be fed into the charge back process.

A critical piece in the Nutanix architecture is the ability to assign unique properties to VMs and individual vDisks. This is important because Nutanix effectively enables any type of application (eq. Desktop Broker or Run Book tool) to apply and change individual properties without having the knowledge about how the infrastructure and services are configured. However, when it comes to simplicity it’s also possible to utilize Nutanix protection domains to assign all properties at the same time to specific group of desktops.

DaaS providers are also able to automate the creation of multiple Nutanix clusters, physical disk containers and logical datastore containers; effectively getting around the Microsoft licensing issues when running Windows Desktop GuestOS across a large number of tenants.

Ultimately, Nutanix wants any application to be able to define it’s own SLA requirements and automatically assign the required properties and values via Nutanix API. It’s all about building a strong ecosystem of partners and applications that can natively leverage the benefits of Nutanix platform.

 

This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=6488

Jul 17 2014

The ‘Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop’ Sneak Peek – Video Demo

In a Nutanix cluster, PRISM is the management gateway for components and administrators to configure and monitor single or multiple clusters. This includes the NCLI (command-line), HTML5 UI (administrative interface) and a REST API supporting for the entire management framework with PowerShell and Java SDKs.

Nutanix engineering made sure that all features and functions available in the platform are exposed via these APIs, enabling programmatic access to an extensive list of datacenter services.

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Programmatic interfaces allow organizations to create automation workflows using scripting languages andworkflow engines like vCenter Orchestrator, vCAC and Puppet. However, it is equally important for applications, as it allows them to drive application and VM centric policies, such as security, availability, reliability and performance.

A little while ago I wrote an article describing how Nutanix customers would soon start to see applications driving infrastructure requirements and automatically setting up their Service Level Agreements.

As we move towards the software and VM centric datacenter, or the SDDC, organizations start to be able to implement a different set of properties that until then were not available via APIs with the majority of storage and compute platforms. Using these “VM Caliber” properties Nutanix is able to effectively create Service Level Agreements that can be applied to individual workloads.

Today I am providing a sneak peek into one of the cool automation products under development by Nutanix and our partners, the Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop.

 

Example

The XenDesktop administrator creates a GOLD SLA that provides 99.9999% availability with replication and snapshots, all happening every hour. Now the administrator assigns this SLA to the executive team desktops.

Slide10

 

In another scenario, call center desktops may not require high availability and a Bronze SLA is selected. All these configurations happen in the background without special requirements or hardware re-configuration.

 

It’s better just taking a look at the video I recorded in my lab environment.

 

[Watch in 1080p FullScreen]

 

Simple and Beautiful!

 

This Alpha Release is limited only to SLA’s using Replication, Backup and Snapshots. For the GA release we will also have control over de-duplication and compression. On the roadmap we have even more granular controls over the Replication Factor (RF) for availability and Quality of Service for individual virtual machines and disks.

The “Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop” release date and packaging are yet to be announced by Nutanix.

 

This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=6481

Jul 12 2014

NCC 1.1 is available for download Now and it boosts Nutanix Cluster Health

NCC is a framework that serves as the engine for the Nutanix Cluster Health. It consists of various modules and plugins. The modules are groups of plugins that correspond to a specific test category. NCC can be run as long as individual nodes are up, regardless of cluster state. The scripts run standard commands against the cluster or the nodes, depending on the type of information being retrieved.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 9.10.12 PM

 

The philosophy of NCC is for each plugin to function as a test that can be interpreted in most cases as a clear pass/fail. In addition to [PASS] and [FAIL], there are two additional results. Warning [WARN] is used when a value returned is unexpected by the check and the value needs to be investigated. Informational [INFO] is used so that a plugin can return a value that cannot be evaluated as pass/fail and does not require any investigation.

NCC checks fall into two non-disjoint sets today: batch-run manual NCC checks, and NCC checks that drive Prism Health page (image below).  Not all the NCC tests are part of Prism 4.0 UI. There is a sub-set that are not good candidates to be part of cluster health for various reasons and can only be run by cli. The important thing to remember is that just downloading the new NCC release you are adding additional and improved health checks to you Nutanix cluster.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 9.09.38 PM

 

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 8.58.54 PM

 

Download NCC 1.1
http://download.nutanix.com/ncc/v1.1/nutanix-ncc-1.1.tar.gz

 

NCC Installation

  1. Download the tarball onto any CVM in the cluster.
    1. The directory to which you copy the tarball should exist on all nodes in the cluster (/home/nutanix is suggested).
    2. The directory should be owned by whatever accounts will use the NCC utility.
  2. Extract tarball:
    $ tar xvmf –recursive-unlink

    1. recursive-unlink option is needed to ensure old installs are completely removed.
  3. Execute the install script (provide the tarball name if it has been moved or renamed).
    $ ./ncc/bin/install.sh [-f ]

    1. Check the output of this command for any error messages. If it runs to success, you will see the following output

ncc_1-1_install

  1. Optionally, source the bash tab-completion script.
    $ source ~/ncc/ncc_completion.bash

    1. Currently completion only works for modules and plugins (does not support flags).
    2. To ensure tab completion works on subsequent logins, add the line to ~/.bashrc.

 

NCC’s release cycle is independent from the NOS release cycle. This enables Nutanix Engineering to develop new plugins and modules without creating a dependency on a particular NOS release. The release frequency is approximately one month, but it can vary depending on the amount of work that needs to be done to develop new plugins and modules.

You can find more information on NCC  at the Nutanix Portal (here)

 

This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=6465

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