Hyper-converged infrastructure options, vendors and installation tips
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The Nutanix Acropolis scale-out, memory-based data platform combines software-defined storage with virtualization in a well-defined, hyper-converged infrastructure. Acropolis runs on x86 server nodes across a series of four hardware platform lines.
Nutanix Acropolis natively combines two or more components into a single unit for compute, storage and networking. It is designed to function at scale, whether that scale is minimal or extremely large.
It creates distributed autonomous capabilities or roles among all nodes in a cluster, including built-in fault handling to avoid or minimize disruption in the event of node or component failure. Such systems are often described as self-healing to reflect their ability to keep running in the face of failure and to accommodate repairs at the convenience of the administrator.
Scale-out is linear for Nutanix's HCI software, so adding new nodes to a cluster means increasing the number of hypervisor and compute nodes and storage controllers, overall compute storage and capacity and resilience in the event of failure.
Simplicity and complexity
Nutanix offers a variety of hardware platforms with differing CPUs, storage types and capacity and memory options. The Acropolis software is available in three versions:
- The Starter option offers the core set of the HCI software's functionality. It's good for small scale deployments.
- Pro, along with Starter features, offers rich data services and resilience and management features. It's ideal for organizations running multiple apps with large scale single workload deployments.
- Ultimate provides the full Nutanix software suite and is more suitable for enterprises with multisite deployments and for organizations that have to meet advanced security requirements.
Ultimate customers must also decide if they wish to use Nutanix Prism -- which comes in both the Starter and Pro editions -- to manage clusters. The numerous platforms and options from which to choose can make evaluating Nutanix Acropolis somewhat challenging.
Clarity and intelligibility
There are many capabilities and features to consider, with numerous examples, illustrations and case studies to examine. There's even the Nutanix Bible, a downloadable e-book that details the narrative of Nutanix's architecture. The material is clear, helpful and informative, but it represents a huge learning curve with not many tools or much information to help potential customers get oriented.
The hardware family consists of four product lines:
- NX-1000 Series: Two models that run up to four nodes per appliance and have up to 6 TB of storage data (hybrid) or 3.84 TB (all flash) and up to 1 TB of memory.
- NX-3000 Series: Three models that run one to four nodes with up to 6 TB of storage data (hybrid) or 3.84 TB (all flash) and up to 1.5 TB of memory.
- NX-6000 Series: Three models that run one to two nodes per appliance with a storage capacity of 6 TB (hybrid) or 3.84 TB (all flash) and up to 1.5 TB of memory.
- NX-8000 Series: Two models that run up to two nodes per appliance with a storage capacity of 6 TB (hybrid) or 3.84 TB (all flash) and have up to 1.5 TB of memory.
Prospective buyers must pick from a variety of configurations for CPU, storage, memory and so on. There are thousands of potential combinations possible. Navigating these combinations is made easier with the Nutanix Size Your Data Center configuration tool.
Overhead and efficiency
Nutanix Acropolis works at the kernel level to enable storage and hypervisor access that provides the most efficient compute and I/O services. Such claims make proof-of-concept implementation and testing incredibly important once a prospective customer gets down to a short list of candidate vendors. The key is to model workloads as carefully as possible, and then to observe how well the proof-of-concepts perform and compare to one another.
Pricing and licensing
Nutanix does not publish pricing information for its HCI software, nor does its sizing tool provide such information. Pricing is available by request.
There are two support tiers:
- Production: Offers 24/7 web and phone support. Subscription and support program fees are available in one- and three-year packages. Next-day parts delivery is included, as is auto-support monitoring directly from Nutanix and spare support and integrated logistics planning, in addition to a vast array of online resources.
- Mission Critical: Provides all of the services in the Production tier, as well as direct access to senior-level engineers and up to four hours of on-site service.
Special features and capabilities
The vendor offers the all in one hyper-converged Nutanix Xpress product with built-in Nutanix AHV hypervisor and virtual machine management capabilities that require no extra licensing costs. Systems come preinstalled and ready to run.
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