Nutanix – What do you mean: “You are not a storage company”…?

9 08 2013

Image copyright of the Davis Museum

Image copyright of the Davis Museum

“You are a black guy, you must be great at dancing and basketball”. “You’re a blonde? Let me explain that joke to you once more”.

Stereotypes. We all know them, we all apply them in some form or the other. We put things in boxes after a quick look, and every drawer has a different label and content to separate the stereotypes. But what if it doesn’t work that way?

Since I joined Nutanix, I’ve been in several customer and partner meetings. Some of the people I’ve get got the idea right away. We are doing something new. Others put us in to a respective box or drawer. “You are a storage company” is one of the classic pieces of feedback. Or, “So you do virtual desktop infrastructure?”.

But there’s more to it. We offer a combination of commodity hardware, combined with a piece of software, and sell that as a solution. And while the use case of virtual desktops is a great one, we can also run things like Splunk, Hadoop and classic server virtualization workloads.

And while we combine the benefits of a shared storage approach to run workloads, we’re not a storage company. We utilize features offered by shared storage to make your life easier. Each node performs its operations on the local storage, but I can use the “Nutanix Distributed File System” or NDFS to create an abstracted layer that offers many of the shared storage benefits. An example would be a shared container for my virtual machines, that are accessible to all of the hosts, enabling features like live migration between hosts.

While that works out really well with our customers, and it gives you the idea you have a SAN or NAS underneath the hoods, Nutanix’s main point is not to replace your SAN or NAS. We want to offer you a “Virtual Computing Platform”, a way to make your life easier when installing, configuring and deploying virtualized workloads and solutions.

That works great, and we’ve received great feedback. There seems to be a slight disconnect though. That begins when people start asking questions like:

What do you mean: “You are not a storage company”…?

A fair question by all means, but the simple answer is: No, we are not.

A simple example that seems to come up as of late is the following. How do I share disk space from your file system directly in to a virtual machine? While there is a way to export the storage directly in to a VM (for example via NFS), this bypasses some of the concepts we utilize. By default, we mount a datastore using an NFS IP address of 192.168.5.1, which runs over a virtual switch that has no uplinks. Since we are talking about traffic that stays within the same vSwitch, we can work at blazing speeds that are not limited by the speed of the physical NIC.

If I were to mount the NFS share from a virtual machine (or a different host), we could use the external IP of the Controller VM. The problem here, is that since the external IPs are different between controller VMs, if you were to migrate your NFS client VM to a different host, everything would go over the regular network. Also, if the controller VM that you connect to as an NFS Server would be offline, your NFS share is not accessible.

The thing is, the Nutanix block is designed to work this way. It offers great flexibility when it comes to running virtualized workloads, but it is not a 100% distributed storage system. We didn’t intend on being a storage system.

It then boils down to design. Is there a way around this? Certainly.

If you want to create a distributed CIFS file share, take a look at solutions like DFS from Microsoft. You can run multiple VMs inside of a container/datastore, and just pass the disk space of the VM through. If you need more space, just add more VMs on a different node, and add capacity, and off you go. And if you run out of space on your cluster? Just add another Nutanix node, get a VM up and running, and follow the same procedure.

That way, you are actually utilizing the distributed nature of our virtual compute platform, and running your storage services in a distributed manner. Gluster FS could be a possible solution to achieve the same thing with NFS on Linux.

And like I said, if this sounds like we are not a storage company? You are absolutely right, we are not. So you might want to categorize us under a different label, put us in a different box, or create an entirely new stereotype. ;)


Actions

Information

12 responses

9 08 2013
Dave Demlow

You can call yourself whatever you want, but your CORE IP is software that presents file storage via NFS – and in turn stores blocks of data redundantly in multiple places and retrieves it … I think that makes you a storage company … No? What else do you really “make” other than storage functionality? Without someone else’s hypervisor (which your customers must buy) and 3rd party virtualization management tools your storage software doesn’t have anything to do. You connect to VMware and other hypervisors the same way as any other storage hardware or software (VSA) using storage protocols (and with the overhead of creating TCP packets even if they don’t go out on a wire). Sounds to me like you are bringing storage software to the party.

11 08 2013
Bas Raayman

Dave, if I’m not mistaking you work for Scale Computing? It would be nice to identify if you are working for a company with a similar solution. Also, please say hi to Vanessa Alvarez for me. A great addition to the Scale team! :)

Our core IP is a way to combine local storage, so that a hypervisor can leverage the speeds of local storage in a way that adds a lot of the benefits of shared storage.

I can see where you say that our IP lies in the development of a “storage software”, but that is just a way to reach a goal. We don’t offer a storage appliance, we offer a way to make it easier to deploy a virtualised infrastructure.

Jeremiah Dooley made a good remark in saying that the title should have been “You are not just a storage company”. The wording might have been better that way, but in the end neither VCE, Nutanix or Scale are 100% storage companies. We add storage as part of the solution, but we bring much more to the table to add value for our customers.

12 08 2013
Dave Demlow

Yes the “not JUST a storage company” would have clarified where you were going. I expect we agree that any company who thinks their core value is JUST storing and serving up blocks to someone else’s software infrastructure stack has a rude awakening coming. (and yes I work for Scale Computing )

10 08 2013
Marco Broeken

Nutanix is a ditributes storage software company. Placed on Supermicro servers and by using VMware vSphere or KVM it scales out. I agree Nutanix is not a storage company alone. Nutanix is a linear scale-out distributed storage software company… they connect all the dots… and there is nothing wrong with that.

Nutanix is the first of many that does a great job at distributed storage.

Read This: Great piece on Why You Should Consider VMware A Serious (Future) Storage Vendor”: http://chucksblog.emc.com/chucks_blog/2013/08/why-you-should-consider-vmware-as-a-serious-future-storage-vendor.html

I’m a big Nutanix fanboy, but this is the year it has to happen. There are so many working on distributed filesystem. where VMware itself is the biggest threat of them all..

10 08 2013
Marco Broeken

Nutanix is a ditributes storage software company. Placed on Supermicro servers and by using VMware vSphere or KVM it scales out. I agree Nutanix is not a storage company alone. Nutanix is a linear scale-out distributed storage software company… they connect all the dots… and there is nothing wrong with that.

Nutanix is the first of many that does a great job at distributed storage.

Read This: Great piece on Why You Should Consider VMware A Serious (Future) Storage Vendor”: http://chucksblog.emc.com/chucks_blog/2013/08/why-you-should-consider-vmware-as-a-serious-future-storage-vendor.html

I’m a big Nutanix fanboy, but this is the year it has to happen. There are so many working on distributed filesystem. where VMware itself is the biggest threat of them all..

16 08 2013
Ed Grigson

Nice distinction Bas. I’ve been familiar with (and a fan of) Nutanix for quite a while but hadn’t considered the fact that NDFS is there to provide compute via a hypervisor, not a complete shared storage replacement. Slightly undermines your NoSAN campaign though (depending of what your SAN does for you today) although as you say there’s often an alternative solution. Thanks for the article.

2 12 2013
Data Locality – SQL & VDI On The Same Nutanix Cluster

[…] Nutanix – What do you mean: “You are not a storage company”…? […]

3 12 2013
Data Locality – SQL & VDI On The Same Nutanix Cluster | Nutanix

[…] Nutanix – What do you mean: “You are not a storage company”…? […]

14 04 2014
Environmental Job Descriptions

Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your website by accident, and I am stunned
why this coincidence didn’t came about earlier! I bookmarked it.

16 07 2014
Carole

This is among the consequences of failing to pay market wages.

Most of the home that is designed to consumers deal with
this choice is ultimately responsible. He also bought luxury cars, country club memberships and a lot of
money. When writing the contractor without meeting the structural integrity and professionalism go hand in the U.
Shortly after the job! It’s okay to ask for a
good source of the papers, you should ask for the North
Atlanta Georgia. Once you decide to sell it.

3 09 2014
Steve Smith

I would have to echo others’ comments on this post.

Nutanix is not JUST a storage company. But as far as I can tell that’s THE “play” for Nutanix. The pricing model and justification is based on the “Let’s throw your SAN and/or NAS head away and replace it with NDFS (on disk you bought from us).”

Take a look at the Virtual Computing Platform feature levels:

http://www.nutanix.com/software/

Virtually all of the added benefits of upgrading from Starter to Pro to Ultimate are storage-related.

You point out (correctly) that Nutanix offers more than just storage, and folks should look at all they get with the Nutanix package. However, please don’t fault them when they place Nutanix into the storage drawer.

19 09 2014
how to improve search engine ranking

It eases the process on each page of the user-friendly
features. In fact, America can do and only mention what most
people have graduated with technology if a browser that lead generation is a place where people desperately wanted to get connected.
An SEO is also visible on the project with any lead generation study program.
There’s pluses to using websites to cater to the theme of your site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,443 other followers

%d bloggers like this: