Aug 16 2015

Why we all love Virtualization and Hyperconvergence… it’s Transformational

I remember the day I saw my first vMotion – unbelievable it has been that long ago – but now VM live migration is a standard for all hypervisors. When we all decided to adopt virtualization we had some clear benefits in mind, and those boil down fundamentally to better resource utilization, reduced datacenter footprint, energy-saving, faster server provisioning, increased uptime, improved disaster recovery, isolated applications, extend the life of older applications and workload portability.

We never thought of virtualization as an enabler for performance enhancement because we knew that workloads would be sharing hardware resources such as processors and network interfaces; but the virtualization benefits easily outweighed the notion of having dedicated servers with low utilization; and as long the applications received the resources required to work properly we would consider that a fitting result.

Twelve years later virtualization is standard and the public cloud is similarly becoming a first class citizen for enterprises. Today, when we think about public cloud we don’t think in terms of bottoms up performance, but rather scalability, implementation speed and flexibility. The large majority of public cloud providers don’t even guarantee peak performance, but as long as applications receive the correct amount of resources to operate efficiently then application owners are pleased with the results.

Hyperconvergence on the other hand has the capability to bring together the best of both worlds; combining the benefits of virtualization and public cloud deployments is what is often referred as private cloud. The economics and technology for creating private cloud deployments only start making sense with hyperconvergence, where buying, deploying, managing and scaling datacenter infrastructures become less expensive and time-consuming.

That brings me to the hyperconverged storage performance discussion that I have previously discussed in “Is Hyper-Converged faster than SAN?”. Does optimal storage performance in a hyperconverged platform matter without considering the benefits associated to the solution?

The answer is No, because this is not a drag-race but rather a datacenter transformation technology, and as long as applications are efficiently delivered the benefits will always outweigh the premise that having the fastest performance is best. Josh Odgers has a very good article on Peak Performance vs Real World Performance that illustrate why performance is rarely a deciding factor for a storage solution.

 

With the Nutanix platform the benefits are numerous and they define a baseline as to what to expect from a hyperconverged platform.

 

  • Granular (node-by-node) and linear scalability with pay-as-you-grow model.
  • Distributed architecture built to tolerate multiple simultaneous failures and heal itself when a failure occurs.
  • Combination of storage and compute performance that deliver on business and application needs.
  • Storage capacity savings mechanisms to reduce storage consumption.
  • Integrated replication and disaster recovery technologies.
  • Non-disruptive upgrades for the entire stack.
  • Readily available API’s to enable DevOps and automation workflows for the entire datacenter stack (compute, storage and network).

 

From a features perspective Nutanix offers: de-duplication, compression and erasure coding for capacity savings; synchronous and asynchronous replication with ability to move workloads between sites; backup to public cloud (Azure and QWS); multi-hypervisor support, one-click upgrades etc.

In my personal opinion the discussion about storage or disk performance is as irrelevant as the initial virtualization performance discussions in the early 2000’s because as long as applications are efficiently and cost-effectively delivered with the appropriate SLA’s, the benefits will always outweigh the premise that having the fastest disk performance is best.

 

Hyperconverged solutions work the whole body at once and must be examined with these context and principles in mind.

 

If you want the fastest attainable performance, just stick few standalone PCIe storage cards or some memory channel storage inside the server and call it a day. However, if you want to truly transform the way you do IT then there are better options. With the momentum around hyperconverged in the market, my guess is that this will be looked back on as a fundamental technology shift in years to come.

 

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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=7272

Aug 12 2015

Citrix XenDesktop & XenApp supported on Nutanix Acropolis

It gives me special pleasure to talk about this announcement because this is one of the projects I have been working on for a while. With this announcement today Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp customers will be supported on the Acropolis hypervisor (AHV).

Acropolis was announced earlier this year (learn more here), but had already been in use by customers for 9+ months in production before the announcement at .NEXT conference. Today Acropolis is used by Global 2000 organizations for all types of workloads. Acropolis hypervisor is free, but a new platform is not useful without support and commitment from the partner ecosystem; for that reason, Acropolis was launched with support from many technology partners and the number of partners is continually increasing.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.34.35 PM

 

 

Without a good VDI solution Acropolis wouldn’t be complete.

 

 

Citrix

 

Our friends at Citrix stepped up to the plate supporting their widely used XenDesktop and XenApp products on Acropolis hypervisor. This is something that numerous Nutanix customers running Citrix products on vSphere have been requesting in order to slash hypervisor licensing costs, and ultimately drive VDI $$ per user down; at the end of the day Acropolis hypervisor is free and provides the features expected by enterprises when deploying VDI solutions.

If you are a Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp customer you now have a supported SDS solution to successfully run your deployment without incurring in vSphere or Hyper-V licenses. If your deployment is on XenServer you now have an equally free hypervisor alternative that delivers easier management and a pay-as-you-grow model with integrated SDS capabilities (Tech Reasons why Nutanix leads the VDI industry).

With the announcement today XenDesktop administrators will be able to start provisioning desktops via Acropolis PRISM user interface and manually add desktops into XenDesktop machine catalogs. The solution and deployment model will be jointly supported by Citrix and Nutanix.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.22.24 AM

 

However, manual provisioning isn’t scalable and the purpose of manual provisioning is to address the deployment of static machine catalogs (aka persistent desktops). To make the administrator’s life easier until the full integration is in place Nutanix has created scripts that will allow administrators to automate the provisioning of desktops with integrated Windows sysprep and adding desktops to XenDesktop machine catalogs.

Application Remoting and RDSH via XenApp will also be supported on Acropolis hypervisor.

Soon after the initial support administrators will be able to utilize the same mechanisms and workflows they use today with Machine Creation Services (MCS) to provision and manage the lifecycle of static and random desktops (aka persistent and non-persistent).

 

Nutanix is Citrix Ready End-to-End

 

The announcement today solidity this successful partnership, granting Nutanix with the Citrix Ready badge for nearly all Citrix products. Acropolis is Citrix Ready for XenDesktop and XenApp, Sharefile Enterprise, NetScaler VPX and CloudBridge VPX.

citrixready

Citrix has also spent the time with Nutanix to create the Citrix Validated Solution (CVS). The Citrix Validated Solution has been built with an understanding of the hardware and software components required to deliver virtual and hosted desktops at any scale, and using Citrix’s own best practice configuration and field experience. The CVS with Nutanix helps enterprises eliminate challenges associated with software and infrastructure selection and implementation. Citrix consulting engineers completely validated the solution and it has been pre-tested and optimized for Desktop Virtualization.

 

Finally, the Nutanix Plug-in for XenDesktop.

Nutanix and Citrix have collaborated to create a new innovative way to assign Service Level Agreements (SLA) for virtual desktops.  The Nutanix Plugin for XenDesktop enables Citrix administrators to answer questions like “how can I ensure my customer desktops are fully protected or guarantee that the development team desktops are getting full performance?” Read more here.

 

This partnership brings Citrix and Nutanix close together offering fully validated solutions with extremely attractive cost. Nutanix was already the leading platform for VDI deployments  (Tech Reasons why Nutanix leads the VDI industry) with features such as data locality, shadow cloning, performance de-duplication, VAAI, capacity de-duplication, compression, granular scalability, high consolidation and disaster recovery; and now the Nutanix Acropolis hypervisor counts with full support from a leading EUC vendor.

Really… how much better can this get? I am excited about what is to come from this partnership.Two leading vendors getting together to cut VDI costs. However, we are not stopping here and you will soon hear from many of our VDI partners getting fully involved with this new VDI stack; from user management and layering to VDI monitoring. Really Exciting stuff!

More news are coming from this partnership, but for now I suggest you to download a Citrix XenDesktop Evaluation copy (here) and the free Nutanix Community Edition (here) and start testing it away. Combining both products you will have a fully functional evaluation environment.

 

 

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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=7237

Jul 26 2015

Prism Central and NOS 4.1.4, NCC 2.0.1 and Acropolis – What’s New!

This week Nutanix made Prism Central and NOS 4.1.4 releases available; but also NCC 2.0.1 and Acropolis release 20150616 . These are all maintenance releases, but they have some good improvements for the areas security, reliability, scalability and stability.

In a Nutanix fashion these updates are coming only 2 months after the 4.1.3 release, and also follow the traditional non-disruptive upgrade that customers are already used to. Let’s go straight into the features improvement.

 

  • Prism Central Scalability

With default memory configuration of 8GB, Prism Central can now support 100 clusters and 10000 VMs (across all the clusters and assuming each VM has an average of two virtual disks). Adding more memory will increase scalability; talk to your SE to understand how Prism Central will scale adding memory. I will soon try to have an article on Prism Central scalability. If you have not seen of used multi-datacenter management with Prism Central find out more about it here.

 

  • Nutanix Cluster Check (NCC) 2.0.1

NCC 2.0.1 includes two new checks; one for Metro Availability to determine the state of the protection domains used in a Metro Availability configuration; and the second is part of the disk health checks to examine the SSD drive firmware revision level for all SSDs in the cluster and reports if the current level is below, at, or above the recommended revision level.

 

  • Asynchronous DR with Metro Availability

Now administrators can take local snapshots on a Metro Availability protection domain and replicate them to other (Asynchronous) remote sites. Administrators can also update the Metro Availability protection domain to create snapshot schedules that take local snapshots and replicate them to remote sites.

 

  • Acropolis Hypervisor Enhancement: Restore VM Locality

When an Acropolis host enters maintenance mode, VMs are live migrated to a temporary host. After the host exits maintenance mode, the VMs are now automatically returned to the original host, eliminating the need to manually move them back. Restore VM Locality also occurs when a failed node is restored on a cluster that was configured with Best Effort High Availability (HA). Learn more about Acropolis hypervisor here.

 

  • Acropolis Security, Reliability, and Stability

Acropolis hypervisor, version 20150616 is now available from the Support Portal and addresses few vulnerabilities.

 

  • Hypervisor Support for NX-6035C

NOS 4.1.3 and later support the NX-6035 platform mixed with other blocks in a cluster running the Acropolis, Hyper-V, and ESXi hypervisors.

 

  • Disk Firmware Upgrade Performance

Nutanix Engineering has significantly improved the performance of the disk firmware upgrade process, so you might observe better results when upgrading.

 

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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=7223

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