Nutanix uses the image of a traffic sign effectively stating ‘no-SAN’ to make the point that its solution saves money in storage. The three year old VC backed venture produces an appliance where server and storage resources share Intel processor(s). The Nutanix appliance is called Complete Cluster because it embeds the physical storage and the storage control otherwise housed in disk array controllers. Not only is it called VM-aware but it embeds VMware vSphere 5 to manage the scale-out architecture of rack mounted appliances.
Storage is provided as in three tiers: SSD, SATA and embedded FusionIO PCIe SSD. Controlling the storage across the clusters is done via Scaleout Converged Storage (SOCS). Every node on the cluster runs a special virtual machine, called a Controller VM. Nutanix has developed its own IP to manage the tiering across SSD, RAID protection, distribution, migration & replication of storage data with added cloning and thin provisioning services. The net effect is that SAN functions typically provided by powerful external array controllers scales the internal storage of the appliances.
With a radically different compute model, Nutanix also has a higher educational hurdle to jump. Not least, because customers are so accustomed to using external arrays. The company messaging is focusing on the absence of a SAN and the associated benefits. It has chosen not to pursue the converged nature of the appliance and that makes sense as there are several offerings on the market using ‘converged’ in their names. Those often are pre-built IT stacks whereas Nutanix architects storage resources differently.
With a highly virtualised solution that combines virtualised storage and virtualised servers also offers the potential to better orchestrate all the elements that make up a workload. Here are our thoughts on storage virtualisation futures, which is an extension to our thoughts on storage hypervisors.
Picture credit: Stacked by /felix/