Introduction to Nutanix Backup to Cloud (Tech Preview)

Nutanix recently announced the release of NOS 4.0 with several new features, including:

  • Hybrid On-Disk De-Duplication
  • Shadow Clones (Official Support)
  • Multi-disk OpLog Store
  • Tunable Fault Tolerance (RF-3)
  • Smart Pathing
  • Availability Domains (Failure Domain Awareness)
  • Snapshot Browser
  • Snapshot Scheduling via PRISM
  • Disaster Recovery Support for Hyper-V
  • One-Click NOS Upgrade
  • Cluster Health
  • Prism Central (Multi-Cluster UI)
  • Powershell Support and Automation Kit
  • Smart Support


Find more about these features in my post Nutanix 4.0 Features Overview (Beyond Marketing).


There is an important feature that was not part of the general product announcement, a Tech Preview feature called “Backup to Cloud”.


Nutanix 4.0 already allows administrators to implement and manage VM centric Disaster Recovery policies across multiple sites and datacenters using a multi-topology architecture, all through a single pane of glass.

Whilst Nutanix built-in DR capabilities allow administrators to specify snapshot retention policies that are actually data backup, this approach can be expensive because there must be storage capacity available across multiple sites to retain the data. Please note that Nutanix already leverages native de-duplication for disaster recovery, drastically reducing the amount of data replicated and stored in each site, but ultimately there are storage capacity requirements, especially if multiple backups and snapshots are required over a long period of time.

Nutanix is now introducing the ability to leverage the global, distributed and highly available infrastructure of Amazon Web Services for data backup and restore. That means that an on-premise Nutanix cluster is able to backup and restore virtual machines to AWS, while having organizations getting billed directly from AWS for EC2 and S3 costs.


The Architecture

A Nutanix NOS instance (software-only) runs on AWS and each AWS NOS instance is managed as a remote site in Nutanix – it’s all integrated and managed via a single pane of glass. Simple!

In AWS the remote site will require a M1.xlarge instance and the AWS NOS instance may be created in a availability zone of choice, increasing reliability and resiliency as needed by your organizations.

The NOS cluster services run on this AWS virtual instance and uses Amazon EBC for metadata and S3 to storage the backup data. All the communication is done via VPC or SSH tunnels with optimized data transfer de-duplication for both back and restore operations.

Dealing with AWS unavailability and failures. Just like any other cloud service AWS is subject to failures and outages. For this reason the AWS NOS instance will take automatic periodic snapshots of EBS volumes stores in S3. A AWS failure or unavailability will automatically raise an alert on the on-premise NOS cluster, maintaining that single pane of glass for managing all your Nutanix clusters and instances.

Please note that AWS NOS cluster is for data backup only, not being supported or designed for regular user workloads. With the introduction of availability zones in NOS 4.0 and now AWS integration it’s not hard to predict where things are moving.

Availability Domains aka node/block/rack awareness is a key struct for distributed systems to abide by for determining component and data placement.  NDFS is currently node and block aware, however this will increase to rack aware as cluster sizes grow.  Nutanix refers to a “block” as the chassis which contains either one, two or four server “nodes”.”


I will soon publish more details about this neat Tech Preview feature that will also soon be featuring integration with Microsoft Azure.


Please note this Tech Preview feature is not a replacement for advanced backup management tools like Veeam, CommVault and others. As an example, Veeam Backup & Replication v7 offers Superior Disaster Recovery, Synergistic Replication, Instant VM Recovery and many other advanced features.


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


  1. This is going to be phenomenal! BEarena’s customers are going to love this. True SDS, yet more innovation by the big brains at Nutanix R&D – great work team.
    Try and do this with VSAN!

    • comotoza on 06/19/2014 at 4:33 am

    Do you have any docs about Amazon configuration for backup? I’ve tried to find any nutanix configuration in EC2 but failed.Thanks.

  2. comotoza, S3 backup is not yet exposed via NOS 4.0 UI. To activate please reach out to your Nutanix SE. I will see if Nutanix is planning to release any documentation.

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