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Nutanix 4.0 Features Overview (Beyond Marketing)

Today Nutanix announced the release NOS 4.0. This is a major release with introduction of features in the areas of data services, performance, resiliency, data protection, and management and analytics. It’s been eight months since NOS 3.5 was announced with the Elastic De-Duplication Engine, PRISM UI, RESTful API, SRM Support, and Nutanix is now delivering another major release. Just like I did for the VMware Horizon View releases when I was at VMware I am going to start doing the Beyond Marketing series for Nutanix.

Please refer to the product Release Notes for official information from Nutanix.

Let’s start with the New Features…
 

Core Data Services

 

  • Hybrid On-Disk De-Duplication

De-duplication allows the sharing of guest VM data on premium storage tiers (RAM and Flash). Performance of guest VMs suffers when active data can no longer fit in the premium tiers. If guest VMs are substantially similar, for example if the Nutanix cluster is used to host numerous Windows desktops, enabling de-duplication substantially improves performance. When used in the appropriate situation, de-duplication makes the effective size of the premium tiers larger so that the active data can fit.

  • Shadow Clones (Official Support)

Shadow Clones is finally out of tech-preview. Shadow Clones intelligently analyze the I/O access pattern at the storage layer to identify files shared in read only mode (ie: Linked Clone Replica). When a 100% read only disk is discovered, Nutanix will automatically create a snapshot at the storage layer on each Controller VM (CVM) and redirect all read I/O to the local copy, drastically improving end-user experience. Read more at Nutanix Shadow Clones Explained and Benchmarked.

 

Performance

 

Multiple different performance improvements have been added to NOS 4.0, increasing overall system performance in 20% compared to NOS 3.5. There will be more detailed information in a different article to discuss  performance improvements in NOS 4.0.

  • Multi-disk OpLog Store

Nutanix now utilize all SSD disks to store the oplog store, increasing on-disk oplog capacity and increasing performance as different vDisks can utilize different SSDs at the same time for writing oplog data. There will be more detailed information in a different article to discuss the performance improvements in NOS 4.0.

  • Other performance improvements include: Fault isolation at a vDisk level, ODirect IO in Extent Store an ODirect IO in oplog store. 

 

Resiliency

 

  • Tunable Fault Tolerance (RF-3)

Replication Factor 3 (also known as FT2) protect data against two simultaneous node, disk or NIC failures.

  • Smart Pathing (CVM/AutoPathing 2.0)

The new and improved CVM AutoPathing 2.0 prevents performance loss during rolling upgrades minimizing I/O timeout by pre-emptively redirecting NFS traffic to other CVMs. Failover traffic is automatically load-balanced with the rest of the cluster based on node load.

  • Availability Domains (Failure Domain Awareness)

Also known as ‘Block Fault Tolerance’ or ‘Rack-able Unit Fault Tolerance’ the availability domain feature adds the concept of block awareness to Nutanix cluster deployments. It works managing the placement of data and metadata in the cluster, ensuring that no singular replicated data is stored in the same Nutanix block for high availability purposes.

host_failure_ft

 

Data Protection

 

  • Snapshot Browser

The new snapshot browser functionality allow administrator to see and restore point-in-time array-based snapshots from a VM or a group of VMs in a local or remote protection domain. This functionality is powered by an extremely detailed scheduling that allow for very granular and application consistent snaps.

(click on the image to enlarge)

  • Snapshot Scheduling via PRISM

Nutanix UI now provides the ability to use calendar based scheduling for backups and replication with ability to specify data retention policies per remote site. Nutanix effectively delivers a unified pane of glass that allows administrators to configure and manage local and remote VM/File backups.

  • Improved Nutanix Storage Replication Adapter (SRA)

Nutanix SRA now has fast detection of files corresponding to the VMs protects in SRM with support to up to 50 VMs on a vStore protected group in SRM. Support for multiple SRM devices in a SRM protection group has been added, and support for execution of multiple SRM recovery plans in parallel.

  • Disaster Recovery Support for Hyper-V

Nutanix 4.0 extends it’s DR capabilities to Hyper-V, providing a VM-Centric native disaster recovery solution. The Hyper-V support has now feature parity with Nutanix DR for ESX.  Being VM-centric implies that in addition to protecting files associated with the VM, Nutanix also orchestrate powering down, un-registering, registering/cloning, powering on of the VM in the destination cluster/site.

 

Management and Analytics

 

  • One-Click NOS Upgrade

As the name says, it’s a one-click NOS 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 will use 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.

  • Cluster Health

Nutanix Cluster Health is a great asset in maintaining availability for Tier 1 workloads. Cluster Health gives the ability to monitor and visually see the overall health of cluster nodes, VMs and disks from a variety of different views. With the ability to set availability requirements at the workload level, Cluster Health will visually dissect what’s important and give you guidance on how to take corrective action.

(click on the image to enlarge)

  • Prism Central (Multi-Cluster UI)

Nutanix now provides a single UI to monitor multiple clusters in the same or different datacenters. Prism Central avoid administrations from having to sign individually to every cluster and provide aggregated cluster health, alerts and historical data. Administrators are effectively able to manage all Nutanix clusters from the same UI.

(click on the image to enlarge)

  • PowerShell Support and Automation Kit

One of the big new things for workflow automation in Nutanix NOS 4.0 are the addition of PowerShell cmdlets to interact with the Nutanix API’s. The POSH library covers the entire extent and functionality of the Nutanix GUI. Basically, anything that can be done via GUI can also be done via REST and can also be done via POSH; including Alerts, Authentication, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Clusters, Containers, Disks, VM and Host, Remote Sites, Multi-Cluster, Storage Pools, SNMP etc.

  • Smart Support

When enabled by the administrator the smart support feature collect statistics from all the nodes in the cluster and send a summary to Nutanix via email. This information is used for debugging and troubleshooting. In the future this data may also be used to auto-diagnose and alert administrators of possible miss-configurations or problems.

Keep tuned, more news to come soon!

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

4 comments

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  1. Bjorn Lagace

    Hi Andre, concerning the Disaster Recovery Support for Hyper-V. Can I conclude that in case of a two block setup, you will have two nutanix clusters with VM specific async replication between the two blocks? And that in case of a Disaster (loss of block), the replicated VM can be brought online on the other block? In this scenario do we have one or two Hyper-V clusters?

    Regards,
    Bjorn

  2. Andre Leibovici

    @Bjorn Lagace, your assumptions are correct. You need a Nutanix cluster in each site. The replication will happen asynchronously and with built-in de-duplication to reduce bandiwtdh consumption. In case of a disaster you can activate your DR site and all VMs will be automatically powered on in the DR site. Yes, you need a Hyper-V cluster in each site, but this is the same as Nutanix cluster; it’s a single solution.

  3. Fabrizio Da Pra

    based on the new Availability Domain feature, what is the minimum configuration per rack/site to survive a rack/site total failure? One Block with three nodes for each site? or more.

  4. Andre Leibovici

    @Fabrizio da pra, a minimum of 3 blocks must be utilized for block awareness to be activated, otherwise node awareness will be defaulted to. It is recommended to utilized uniformly populated blocks to ensure block awareness is enabled.

    I recommend you reading the following two blog posts:
    http://stevenpoitras.com/the-nutanix-bible#avail_domains
    http://nutanix.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/40-features-fault-domain-awareness.html

    -Andre

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