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Nutanix offers scale-out storage options for its Complete Cluster

Todd Erickson

Nutanix Inc. today released a new series of its scale-out storage and compute cluster products, and updated its Nutanix Operating System. The new NX-3000 series lets customers scale storage and compute separately with performance nodes, and software advances include compression and replication for disaster recovery.

Nutanix's

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converged data center products combine solid-state Fusion-io PCI Express (PCIe) flash cards, hard-disk drives (HDDs), Intel processors for computing, and a file system for a "software-defined data center" in a box. "This is your entire data center. You don't need to use a SAN [storage area network] or NAS [network-attached storage] from NetApp or EMC," Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said.

Nutanix emerged from stealth in April 2011 with its NX-2000 Complete Cluster product, the first of what has become known as hyper-converged storage because it combines storage, networking and virtualization in one box. Scale Computing and SimpliVity followed with hyper-converged products this year.

Pandey said early Nutanix customers told him they wanted the ability to independently scale compute and capacity. The NX-2000 Nutanix Complete Cluster systems came in fixed node configurations with no options for the customer.

The 2U NX-3000 line features several node configuration choices to enable scale-out storage. Customers can independently scale compute and capacity nodes that will vary the number of CPU cores per socket, PCIe flash cards, SATA solid-state drives (SSDs) and SATA HDDs.

The Nutanix Operating System (NOS) 3.0 features dynamic cluster expansion, disaster recovery (DR) tools at the virtual machine (VM) level, and inline and post-process compression technologies. The new DR tools allow users to set VM-level policies for native asynchronous multi-way replication between Nutanix systems. Replication is an optional software feature requiring a separate license.

As data becomes less used, NOS 3.0 will compress it post-process for capacity optimization, while not affecting input/output (I/O) during busy time periods. Data subject to system writes is compressed inline. Both post-process and inline compression are also optional software features requiring a separate license.

"We need to go and put [in] all the bells and whistles to make sure that [converged technology] is enabled to cross over the hump, and is palatable to the great majority," Pandey said.

NOS 3.0 also added support for the Linux Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor technology. Nutanix originally supported only VMware's vSphere, but Pandey said it will add support for Microsoft Corp.'s Hyper-V hypervisor, as well as Amazon Web Services LLC's public Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) next year.

Dave Russell, Gartner's research vice president for storage technologies and strategies, said Nutanix is an emerging vendor that is getting the most attention from users interested in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and private clouds.

Pandey said Nutanix will never offer a product without a virtualized storage controller. "A lot of [these features] are not possible if you land your storage controllers on bare metal," Pandey said. "Architecturally we have made this promise that we'll never run a storage controller on bare metal. And that is the only way to build the next-generation software-defined data centers."


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