Enterprise Cloud for SMB: Invisible Operations

SMB (Small Medium Business) is one of the worst terms that is in the information technology industry. The acronym implies that there is a big difference between what a small company would need versus a large company in terms of requirements. I personally think that is couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you are company of 500 people or 50,000 people you still want the highest levels of service and uptime for your customers. Both small and large companies want operational efficiency, fractional consumption and reduce security risk in the sector that they operate in. You can also make the point the smaller business has to more efficient than bigger companies because they don’t have same economies of scale their bigger enterprise versions.

While I don’t think the vast majority of SMB’s are saying “I need to get a cloud strategy”, they are saying things like, “how can finish all of this work on my plate before the weekend?”, “How do I get to the use feature X so I can put off buying more capacity?”, “How can I spend more time with the customers instead waiting for this upgrade to finish?”.
Nutanix is giving the benefits of Public cloud to business but on your terms to answers a lot of the above questions. The time spent on reading complex HCL’s and performing an nuanced cha cha in upgrading separate pieces of infrastructure just so you can stay on support doesn’t provide any real value to the business. Along with a mounting headache a lot of these upgrade activities bring a lot of risk when these tasks are not automated using a health check before you proceed. People want to talk about hardware failure rates but I most often it’s us as humans that bring the most risk in regards to downtime.

A Gartner study projected that through 2015, “80 percent of outages impacting mission-critical services will be caused by people and process issues, and more than 50 percent of those outages will be caused by change, configuration, release integration and hand-off issues.” With these high numbers it’s easy see why people look to cloud to reduce the risk. Nutanix’s commitment to one-click everything including upgrades for the hypervisor, Acropolis software, BIOS/BMC and the hard drives can save countless hours and contributes to uptime.

A lot of time is also spent on the management layers which really only exists to run applications. The virtualization management layer has become a sore sport in terms of training and maintenance to keep the lights on. Nutanix ‘s control plane, Prism run on every node and eliminates the need for an outside management layer. When you combine Prism with AHV you don’t have to worry about installing, managing and supporting a product to provide services like analytics, call home and live migration. No extra SQL or Oracle licensing in supporting your management layer.

Nutanix’s ability to achieve one-click everything is possibly because it was designed for web-scale. Scale allows self-healing, ability to have clusters in mixed versions/states to handle complicated upgrade scenarios, add capacity independently of the hypervisor, and allow seamless patching for security updates. A key enabler is the ability to handle metadata in a dynamic fashion, from 3 nodes to 1000 nodes, all Nutanix customers reap the benefits. Let’s take a look at the upgrade use cases that highlight why Nutanix is the best choice of all business sizes including SMB.


So a new version of Acropolis was released and you want to get the updated SCMA (Security Configuration Management Automation) and the new performance improvements. What will be the impact to the running VM’s?

Below is a Nutanix Cluster in a healthy state. All VM’s are writing 1 copy locally and 1 remote copy. As more writes come into the system the remote copies are evenly distributed across the cluster because of the intelligent metadata afforded by web-scale technologies.


Controller VM on Node 1 goes down for an upgrade


The SQL VM will already have knowledge of the controller VM’s and it’s business as usually. No VM’s or data needs to be moved for an upgrade so the process is fast and efficient. The system is designed to transparently handle these gracefully. In the event of an upgrade/failure, I/Os will be re-directed to other controller VMs within the cluster. Nutanix ALWAYS writes the minimum 2 copies of data which is not the same for other Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) vendors. By enforcing availability the new working set can also invalidate old data on the node that is being upgraded. This protects you from data loss if a drive goes down in the system during the upgrade and allows for quicker rebuild if the something bad happens with the node that is being upgrade.

This clearly better than a 3 Tier Architecture were typical if you lose 1 controller your down to 50% of your storage performance. Other HCI vendors will give you the option to move all of the data off the system first or use RAID to overcome the oversight. If you take the use case of moving all data off the node how long will that take?

Other HCI vendors requiring to move data off the node


By moving data off the node the flash tier can quickly fill up and queueing will occur. Performance will impacted and not to mention the time to copy off TB’s of data. Some vendors that use RAID have no current way of rebuilding the data on the upgrading/failed node. The point to make here is that having elastic metadata like Nutanix allows you to self-heal and have low impact when carrying out maintenance operations.

So what happens if the node never comes back up for Nutanix?


Nutanix has the ability to rebuild data at the same tier at which failed at. This allow the cold storage tier not to impact the performance tier which would then have to be down migrated with ILM. HDD rebuilds to other HDDs and SSDs will rebuild to SSDs. This control and limiting of rebuilds helps to prevent network congestion especially on clusters that are only running 1 GB.

While getting down into the weeds can highlight why Nutanix is different from other traditional and other HCI vendors the point is Nutanix allows you elevate your IT staff. You can forget the non-value tasks and start to focus on bringing delight to your customers. The person that might have 5 different hats, like security, networking, storage, virtualization and backup can now find a glimmer of hope in their daily work lives and start to think about work-life balance. Nutanix as the platform for Enterprise Cloud is perfect of any size, especially the small and medium sized business.

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