Nutanix de-converges by allowing dedicated nodes for compute and storage • The Register

Nutanix, which made its name with hyper-converged infrastructure that bundled compute and storage into single nodes, has decided the time is right to offer dedicated storage and compute nodes.

The change is significant because the nodes running Nutanix’s Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure (HCI) stack are ideally not a diverse collection of kits. Nutanix prefers that you use mostly homogeneous hardware.

By allowing dedicated nodes, HCI can be used for more workloads. Databases, for example, need some nodes geared for computing power and others for storage. While HCI is a pretty decent database platform, Nutanix thinks it can improve it now.

Diverse nodes also mean that Nutanix can pitch HCI as more flexible and therefore more attractive for more workloads. HCI, both Nutanix’s product and the concept of hyperconverge.d infrastructure, is rightly or wrongly associated with certain workloads, with desktop virtualization at the forefront.

On a more prosaic level, this change also gives Nutanix a better chance to pitch for database business, because scaling up an HCI rig today means adding a node with storage and compute. However, database vendors do not care that part of a Nutanix node performs storage services and charges for all cores of the host CPU. Customers can pay licenses to run databases on cores that run storage, not the DB.

Dedicated compute nodes, and the cores they contain, can now be fully mapped to databases, theoretically keeping database licensing costs lower.

Dedicated storage and compute nodes become even more interesting in the public cloud and Nutanix’s cloudy NC2 clusters – the part of HCI that runs on bare metal in AWS and Azure.

At Nutanix’s .NEXT conference in Chicago today, IT biz executives said The register that de-converging means that it becomes possible to use different types of cloud instances in the same virtual cluster. Users can therefore choose an instance type designed to host databases and another storage-oriented instance type to store data and manage them all as just another Nutanix cluster.

Competing hybrid cloud frameworks cannot currently work with a mix of instance types: Nutanix could be on to something here by enabling its cloudy stack to take advantage of the diversity offered by hyperscale clouds.

Data Services

Databases are also important to Nutanix, as the other main news from the .NEXT conference is more “data services.”

Nutanix has two definitions for that term. One can be applied to the managed database-as-service offering called NDS, which has been selling for some time. At .NEXT, it announced that service is now the flagship for Project Beacon, an effort to create a suite of PaaS products that run on any cloud and require no presence of Nutanix’s hybrid cloud infrastructure stack.

Nutanix’s view here is that PaaS is usually tied to a particular vendor. But the DBaaS will be available as a managed service on the native public cloud infrastructure. Execs haven’t said what other PaaS products Nutanix plans to make, or when they’ll debut, but the direction is clear: services that developers rely on to support apps — mostly data-related — are becoming PaaS products Nutanix will be happy to announce. use them wherever developers want them.

No timeline for the delivery of more PaaS products under Project Beacon was discussed, nor were details of future services detailed at the conference.

The other meaning of “data services” relates to data protection. Nutanix has taken its software-defined storage, snapshots, and disaster recovery technology and applied it all to Kubernetes.

Another newcomer is Multicloud Snapshot Technology (MST), which allows snapshots to be moved from Nutanix rigs to cloud-native object stores, starting with the AWS S3. This gives Nutanix users a new option for data protection and DR.

Nutanix also likes the idea that you can take a snapshot of an app, move it to a cloudy data store, and then run the app in that same cloud. Kubernetes should, in theory, make apps more portable. Nutanix thinks this effort adds to that story.

Cloudy control

Also confirmed at the conference was Nutanix Central, a cloud management tool that provides “a single console for visibility, monitoring, and management across public cloud, on-premises, hosted, or edge infrastructure.” Provided the infrastructure is running Nutanix, of course.

Nutanix Central includes observability and other tools that app orchestrators covet. The tool is in addition to Nutanix’s existing Prism management tool for local clusters.

The thinking behind all of the above is that organizations have moved into hybrid cloud without planning how best to deploy, or with the tools to manage it elegantly. Nutanix hopes to develop and offer those tools.

Even Project Beacon reflects the company’s desire to tame the hybrid cloud. Today, Nutanix argues, deploying an application to numerous targets and locations is painful. A PaaS approach therefore continues the company’s long-held strategy of making technology easier to deploy and manage.

No salesperson ever says otherwise. But few try to overlay the many hyperscale and IT-as-a-service platforms for buyers to consider in these cloudy times.

Nutanix has one major rival with similar ambitions and capabilities — VMware — and upstart executives told The register that some of its current efforts are designed to attract the attention of Virtzilla’s customers who are concerned about what the Broadcom acquisition could mean. ®

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