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Nutanix is now making it possible to run its own platform without a hypervisor. As a result of Project Beacon, the company aims to serve not only hundreds of thousands of data center users, but also millions of cloud-native customers.

According to Lee Caswell, SVP Product & Solutions at Nutanix, Project Beacon is the most interesting innovation during Nutanix. NEXT. The project itself is not new; in fact, it has long been the name for the vision for Nutanix’s future plans.

Project Beacon’s initial aim was to decouple applications and data from the underlying infrastructure. That would make it much easier to move workloads between on-prem, edge, and public cloud. Previously, Nutanix enabled its own Database Services on public cloud services. Now, the cloud capabilities are being scaled up further.

Hybrid cloud stumbling blocks

Both data and storage tend to be trapped in the public cloud in which it is housed. Those who want to move an application from AWS, for example, have to painstakingly transfer storage from Amazon’s own storage services to an alternative themselves. Nutanix wants to avoid that, as solving this problem prevents data silos, accelerates development time and thus time-to-market and -crucially- simplifies things.

Currently, another core aspect of Project Beacon is its approach to Kubernetes. Caswell indicates that it is up to platform engineers to get a consistent Kubernetes platform in each environment. Kubernetes itself has effectively been standardized, with all sorts of cloud workloads taking advantage of it. “Containers are the fastest way to develop applications today,” Caswell explains.

However, these teams need tools to deploy, manage, secure and operate Kubernetes continuously. They also need data services for block, file and object storage that get applications up and running quickly in new environments. Finally, there is the need to keep access to platform data services and AI services consistent through any cloud. All those capabilities Nutanix is making available through Project Beacon under the name Nutanix Kubernetes Platform (NKP).

Nutanix Kubernetes Platform

NPK is the first product to emerge from the acquisition of D2iQ. That company was already focusing on large-scale Kubernetes management, but Caswell says the scale at which Nutanix is thinking is still a step above what D2iQ itself had in mind.

NKP specifically provides a “single pane of glass” for enterprise-scale Kubernetes management. Specifically, it is a layer on top of an existing Kubernetes development environment such as Red Hat OpenShift, AKS, EKS or Rancher. “There is still plenty of development in that area,” Caswell said. With that, it builds on the big advantage of Nutanix that customers look for: adding simplicity to complex material.

Just as important is integrating security. “Kubernetes has no inherent security approach,” states Caswell. So it’s up to a software layer on top of Kubernetes itself to provide that. So it offers the same security known from container VMs, such as secure snapshots and disaster recovery. While Nutanix may not be a security company, it does offer some of these features to ensure business continuity in the event of a cyberattack or cloud failure.

Dot on the horizon: Cloud Native AOS

“A project at Nutanix is a 2 to 3-year vision,” Caswell says. The next dot on the horizon is also already clear. It’s going to offer its own stack without a hypervisor on a cloud-native basis. That starts with Cloud Native AOS (Acropolis Operating System), which handles services and workloads in an abstracted/simplified form. It will appear first on AWS EKS.

It is the first building block of offering Nutanix without its own hypervisor, but Caswell emphasizes that this does not actually matter too much to his company. This is because the hypervisor is not a paid option on top of the Nutanix offering. Cloud Native AOS enables automatic replication of all container data, so a container can address all the data it needs. In time, all Nutanix features seen elsewhere should make their way to cloud native platforms.

Also read: Nutanix CEO says many VMware customers will switch to Nutanix