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Data Centre

Nutanix looking for a way to burst VMware's bubble

Hypervisor wars and nullifying EVO:RAIL

Impalement

Comment Rumours are circulating about a hypervisor built by Nutanix, and Nutanix open-sourcing its software; two intriguing moves. Why would Nutanix make these moves as VMware ratchets up its attack on hyper-converged vendors with EVO:RAIL?

Start-up Nutanix is a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance (HCIA) supplier, widely-regarded as the leading such company in terms of units shipped.

It started out in 2011 as a combined hardware-software shipper, using commodity hardware powered by VMware's ESXi hypervisor and providing a virtual SAN from its SOCS (Scale-Out Converged Storage) software.

SOCS is a virtualised controller that implements a clustered file system. The storage underneath is a combination of SSDs (Intel) and SATA disk drives. Nodes are linked across 10 GbitE cables for cluster traffic. SOCS became NDFS (Nutanix Distributed File System) and Nutanix says its appliance provides a Virtual Computing Platform.

Competitor and fellow HCIA shipper SimpliVity took a similar route, but uses ASIC hardware and firmware to accelerate its performance. Latecomers such as Maxta provide a SW-only HCIA offering, with channel partners building complete HCIAs from hardware meeting required standards for performance and capacity.

Nutanix SW capabilities

The NDFS software has developed and now supports both Microsoft Hyper-V (in 2013) and Red Hat KVM (in 2012) hypervisors. It does not support Docker containers. Its storage capabilities have grown and a brief list shows it having:

  • Cluster RAID
  • HOTcache tiering to put high-priority data in flash and ordinary data on disk
  • Medusa distributed metadata
  • Curator data distribution services
  • Snapshots
  • Thin-provisioning
  • In-line or post-process compression
  • Replication for disaster recovery
  • Prism user interface
  • Real-time inline deduplication
  • Post-process deduplication using MapReduce
  • Synchronous mirroring
  • Cloud Connect data protection using an Amazon cloud target

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