FEATURE Nutanix appliance

Hyperconvergence vendor Nutanix has signed PC giant Lenovo as an OEM partner in an attempt to bolster its market reach. Lenovo will install Nutanix’s software on its own service, which will be available from Q1 2016.

Nutanix offers virtualized infrastructure, merging together storage, networking, and computing in a single appliance. It goes beyond the traditional converged market, which simply bolts together these three pieces of equipment, by merging the storage component directly into the server.

“It eliminates one of the big tiers of the stack, which is the storage array,” said Howard Ting, senior vice president of marketing at Nutanix, explains that this essentially “disappears” inside the server component. “What you get as a CIO is much faster deployment and simplified management, and better scalability, because there are challenges with scaling a traditional storage array.”

Lenovo's TD350 server will now serve up Nutanix's virtualized offering.
Lenovo’s TD350 server will now serve up Nutanix’s virtualized offering.

Nutanix nodes can be clustered together in small increments, and the storage and compute capabilities can be rebalanced across the entire cluster, he said. This enables CIOs to buy small amounts of storage rather than spending lots of capital on large storage array additions that may then go unused for long periods of time.

The Nutanix appliances are used for a variety of applications, from virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to big data analytics, server virtualization and remote office management. Nutanix spent years layering its software atop its own equipment, but in June 2014 began striking out with OEMs, creating a partnership to install its equipment on Dell machines.

The Lenovo deal is slightly different, according to Ting. “Dell essentially sold that product through their existing salesforce and channels,” he said. “What’s different about this deal is that while the products will be available through Lenovo’s existing channels, they will also build a dedicated salesforce focused on this product.”

The announcement should please CIOs who have already standardized on Lenovo equipment, said Ting. Not insignificantly for Nutanix, it will also help the firm expand into the Chinese market, which is Lenovo’s home turf, and which has considerable market potential, he added.

Nutanix sells two software stacks under its Xtreme Computing Platform banner. Acropolis, which manages the infrastructure across the Nutanix cloud, dealing with tasks like storage optimization and virtual machine placement. The second part, Prism, automates repetitive IT workflows, including maintenance and upgrades, and IT troubleshooting.

The idea is to mirror some of the benefits found in the public cloud by making private cloud environments equally flexible. In June 2014 the company also announced Cloud Connect, a service that enables private Nutanix appliances to integrate with public cloud-based instances, operating on infrastructures like Amazon Web Services.

Nutanix is finding traction with Canadian customers.  Sudbury, Ont.-based B2B hosted services Agilis Networks began using Prism on Nutanix hardware to serve its customer base, which consists entirely of businesses with highly rigorous uptime requirements.

The firm wanted greater than RAID 10 availability on its storage networks, and was looking for cross-site replication between nodes. It settled on the Nutanix NX-6000 series, installing clusters of three nodes, and calculated a $12,000 ROI over three years.

 



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