Jul 31 2014

Nutanix One-Click Upgrade now takes care of Firmware and Hypervisor too!

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As the name says, it’s a One-Click upgrade for the entire Nutanix cluster. Nutanix One-Click upgrade automatically indicates when a new NOS version is available and it will auto-download the binaries if the auto-download option is enabled. With a single-click to upgrade all nodes in a cluster, Nutanix uses a highly parallel process and reboot one CVM at a time using a rolling upgrade mechanism. The entire cluster upgrade can be fully monitored by the administrator.

During the upgrade process a feature called Autopathing kicks-in redirecting VM I/Os on the Hypervisor host to another CVM (Nutanix Controller) on a different hypervisor host. This has several benefits including allowing you to upgrade a CVM without disruption. The CVM AutoPathing prevents performance loss during rolling upgrades minimizing I/O timeout by pre-emptively redirecting storage traffic to other CVMs. Failover traffic is also automatically load-balanced with the rest of the cluster based on node load.

 

What’s New?

For most of you already running Nutanix 4.0.1 this is not new. However, this time around I am writing about the new One-Click upgrade feature being released with the next NOS release. In addition to the already non-disruptive NOS upgrade, the One-Click upgrade feature now ensures that the hypervisor (vSphere, HyperV and KVM) is also automatically upgraded in a distributed and rolling fashion. Nutanix is solving a huge problem, where either manual intervention or external automation tools are required.

In addition to the new hypervisor upgrade feature Nutanix is now enabling NCC (Nutanix Cluster Health) upgrade and hardware firmware upgrade. Let’s talks about firmware upgrade.

Upgrading firmware on servers, controllers, disks and other interfaces is probably one of the major pain points for datacenter administrators. The workflow normally goes as follows: schedule maintenance outage, go to the manufacturer website, download correct firmware, flash firmware via web interface or with a Linux cli tool, reboot server, and then repeat this task for every server in the datacenter that require firmware upgrade. It’s complex and lengthy.

Because NOS runs in hypervisor user space Nutanix is able to execute complex firmware and hardware upgrade processes across multiple server components without requiring reboots. Using Nutanix a highly distributed parallel processing the One-Click upgrade takes care of firmware upgrade for all disk devices in the cluster with zero impact to virtual machines and workloads. No reboots required, true AlwaysOn! It isn’t hard hard to see or predict Nutanix taking care of all other components in the cluster in a foreseeable future.

As a bonus the framework that is serving as the engine for the Nutanix Cluster Health, also knows as NCC, is also part of the One-Click upgrade process. Read more about NCC here.

Below you will find a screenshot of a Beta NOS release that supports upgrades for NOS, Hypervisor, Disk Firmware and NCC. As I have more non-NDA content about the new One-Click upgrade I will share it here. This is true Nutanix innovation and something that only software defined solutions can achieve via heavy use of automation and workflows.

 

 

Note: The hypervisor upgrade process requires server reboot.

 

If you have not yet seen the current release of Nutanix One-Click upgrade click Nutanix One-Click Upgrade Demo Video (Simple & Easy).

 

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

Permanent link to this article: http://myvirtualcloud.net/?p=6503

Jul 22 2014

Implications of Nutanix SLA Management Plugin for DaaS Providers

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

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