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Nutanix Inc. adds flash appliance to hyper-converged platform

If you're riding on the hyper-converged and all-flash bandwagons, Nutanix has an appliance for you.

Nutanix Inc. announced today that it has added a flash appliance to its hyper-converged platform for performance and will soon support stretch clustering for high availability.

The NX-9000 all-flash model is available today and the Metro Availability feature will be part of the Nutanix Operating System 4.1 release later this year.

Hyper-converged platforms combine storage, compute, networking and virtualization in one unit. Nutanix was the first into the market, but now faces competition from other startups and larger vendors getting into the market through partnerships with VMware.

The NX-9000 ships with either 4.8 TB or 9.6 TB of flash per node, with two nodes in each appliance. Nutanix's other hyper-converged systems are hybrids mixing flash and spinning disks.

Greg Smith, senior director of Product and Technical Marketing at Nutanix, said the all-flash models are for "applications with a lot of hot data that need consistent, predictable latencies." These include large databases used for online transaction processing. He said Nutanix has early customers running large Oracle deployments on its all-flash boxes.

Smith said customers can scale out NX-9000 systems to get more flash capacity. Nutanix does inline deduplication and compression to reduce data on solid-state drives.

Pricing for the all-flash systems begins at $110,000 per 4.8 TB node. At least three nodes are needed for Nutanix storage to run as a distributed file system.

The Nutanix Metro Availability feature uses synchronous mirroring to stretch databases for virtual machine clusters across sites up to 400 kilometers apart with less than 5 millisecond latencies, according to the vendor. Customers can have any Nutanix hyper-converged system on either end of the wire; they don't have to be identical.

Metro Availability supports VMware ESXi today with support for Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors on the Nutanix roadmap.

"We are providing database stretching as long as you have a hypervisor with HA [high-availability] capabilities with the ability to fail over on the other site," said Suda Srinivasan, Nutanix director of product marketing. "You take a container, stretch it over two sites, and you're done."

Srinivasan said the clustering supports zero recovery point objectives and "near-zero" recovery time objectives. It joins other data protection features built into Nutanix systems, including snapshots, replication and the ability to back up to the Amazon AWS cloud.

Hyper-convergence has accelerated in 2014 in customer adoption as well as vendors on the market. The most notable new player is VMware, which added VSAN and EVO: RAIL hyper-converged products to challenge early players Nutanix, SimpliVity and Scale Computing. Others, such as Maxta Software and Nimboxx, have added hyper-convergence software that runs on commodity hardware.

Nutanix remains the market leader. The privately held company said it had more than $50 million in revenue for the quarter that ended in July, and claims 29 customers have bought more than $1 million of its products and services. Nutanix also signed an OEM deal with Dell, which will begin selling its hardware with Nutanix software beginning in November.

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