Nutanix holds a large virtual event this week to announce the latest developments within the company. The most important product innovations in our view are the Kubernetes PaaS platform; Nutanix Karbon Platform Services and a new collaboration with Microsoft to bring Nutanix Clusters to Azure.
Where Nutanix in its early years had to compete against the established tech order, it has now entered a phase in which it increasingly collaborates with these companies. Previously Nutanix had to deliver the hardware itself, now you can use your own hardware from one of the well-known brands with a software stack of Nutanix. Now they are also partnering with the big hyperscalers.
Nutanix Clusters on Azure
Nutanix has made the step from Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) to a hybrid cloud platform, they know integrate with the big hyperscalers. You can run Nutanix in your own data center, in a Nutanix data center or with Nutanix Clusters on AWS in your own AWS account. Nutanix Clusters on Azure is now also added to the portfolio, thanks to a new collaboration with Microsoft. What is unique about these collaborations, is that the Nutanix technology and hypervisor runs on top of these cloud infrastructures. Nutanix is not adapting to the AWS or Azure hypervisor.
In the end, the vast majority of customers do not run Nutanix in just one of these environments, but in a hybrid cloud model where on-premises and cloud are combined. The freedom of choice has once again increased. It is now waiting for Nutanix Clusters to be available on Google Cloud.
Nutanix and Microsoft have also partnered in a so-called procurement collaboration, in which it is possible to use Azure Credits to purchase Nutanix software. On the other hand, existing Nutanix customers can port their license to Nutanix Clusters on Azure.
Nutanix Karbon Platform Services, an all-in-one Kubernetes platform
Nutanix has developed a new service with Karbon Platform Services that goes beyond most container orchestration services. It positions itself as a PaaS solution that offers more than containers as a service. Actually you can speak of an all-in-one Kubernetes platform.
Besides the normal Kubernetes container orchestration that Nutanix already had in its portfolio, several services have been added to make the platform more valuable. The platform also has Serverless functions, data pipelines for data processing and analysis (Apache Kafka as a Service, NATS as a Service) and AI and machine learning have also been made available through Tensorflow as a Service and Openvino as a Service.
Security, logging and monitoring are also part of the platform. For example, there is an Ingress controller and service mesh (Istio as a Service and Promotheus as a Service).
Although the reference to PaaS may insinuate that you can only get Nutanix Karbon Platform Services in the cloud, this is not the case. Karbon Platform Services is completely hybrid cloud and can be used at any location, also on-premises.
As one is used to from Nutanix, everything can be managed from a single control plane.
Faster application development
For application developers, the arrival of Nutanix Karbon Platform Services means that they can develop applications faster. They don’t need to manage or worry about the infrastructure. In addition, they will receive a load of microservices that they can use, which will also speeds up development.
In addition, the application works identically in a small on-premise test environment as in a large cloud environment where the application is used intensively. Also, the developer does not have to adjust to cloud-specific requirements because the Nutanix environment is the same everywhere.
Improvements to the HCI platform
Although the focus at Nutanix seems to be on expansion to the cloud, it hasn’t forgotten the on-premises environment. The company has made the necessary improvements to its HCI software to make the solution work better.
For example, Nutanix now states that performance has increased by as much as 50 percent. For example, the software is now more suitable for NVMe-based SSDs and the Intel Optane SSDs. It is a new way of data storage that has quickly conquered the market. This form is many times faster, but also requires software optimizations to make effective use of it.
It also means that Nutanix has become much more suitable for large database workloads that cause a high I/O load on the system. For example, Nutanix now sees opportunities in the health care industry where often huge databases are used.
Furthermore, Nutanix has developed a new file system which is now available. The name of this file system is Blockstore and according to Nutanix this file system is many times more efficient than traditional file systems. It also combined the file system with Intel’s Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK), which enables is direct access to NVMe storage, which can improve performance. This toolkit is currently in a preview, but Nutanix has high expectations. Nutanix is working closely with Intel to take performance to a higher level by making more effective use of the available Intel hardware.
Flow Security Central relies on Zero-Trust
Finally, we talked to Nutanix about security. Flow Security Central is a SaaS solution which makes it is possible to do security management. Think of compliancy, network traffic, applications, key management and policy settings.
Nutanix now mainly focuses on Zero-Trust security, something that has dominated more tech companies in recent months. Zero Trust seems to become the new trend in security because everyone is talking about it now.
With Zero Trust, the infrastructure between all available services, applications and cloud environments are automatically mapped. After this, specific policies and network rules are automatically defined and everything else will be blocked. This means that deviations are no longer possible. An application cannot suddenly communicate with another server or access another port. Unless a system administrator will allow it by hand.
Nutanix Flow helps users achieve this and improve security by analyzing the environments and making recommendations for configurations based on best practices.
Nutanix will continue, but under new leadership
All in all, Nutanix continues to build a hybrid cloud platform on which all applications can run, where the infrastructure is as invisible as possible and management is minimized. Nutanix tries to automate as much as possible and use simple procedures to make the infrastructure work for the client. This strategy has been very successful for the company.
The most striking announcement, however, is that one of the founders and current CEO of Nutanix, Dheeraj Pandey, has decided to leave the company. A successor is now being sought. The main goal seems to be to improve the sales organization and optimize the ROI from the subscription model. The strategy remains as it is. The new CEO will most likely come from outside the company. We are very curious who will take on this role. No names are mentioned yet.