In 2019, Transparency Market Research predicted that by 2025, the global HCI (Hyper-converged infrastructure) market will be worth 31 billion. That very same article listed Nutanix as one of the top 5 companies using convergence.
So it was something of a treat to have Martin Walshaw, Strategic Account Manager, Nutanix, break down how their systems work.
Hyper-convergence infrastructure is described by Nutanix thus. As one that “natively integrates compute and storage into a single turnkey x86-based system. It reduces power and space, and dramatically eliminates storage complexity, making IT infrastructure as easy to consume as public cloud services.”
How to begin again
For a start, attempting to do things in the new business environment that we are in, and taking all technologies and trying to utilise them, just does not work. 40 years ago, the Pontiac was one of the most sought after cars globally with all the features and functionalities.
Problem is, they did not change, move or grow with technology. Four decades later, and everyone is now talking about Tesla. They have revolutionised what cars can and cannot do. They have taken something that was a traditional standard model – at the end of the day, a car gets you from point A to point B – and simplified it. They are the same, but also very different.
Another example is taxis and Uber. The latter took what the former did, and was, and turned technological tables on it, changing everything about the way it works. Again, it is the same, but very different.
These two are a case of what happens in an Internet Minute. Companies that do not adapt or go ahead with technology and rested on their laurels are no longer there. Take 2012. It was presumed the number of connected devices would double. Instead, they tripled.
There are now 21 billion connected devices at the moment from smartwatches to IoT or smartphones. It means creating an infrastructure at home that supports all these and asking yourself questions such as what are you going to have to cater for? How much data would you have to put in place for your personal infrastructure?
The deployment from a legacy perspective comes with multiple areas to look at, from the top of the stack to the bottom, with lots of layers to deploy. It is also very difficult to upgrade. If you have a problem with your legacy environment, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem would be.
Connecting the dots
How is all this connected, you may ask? A lot of companies have had to adapt over time to survive and thrive such as Amazon (nary a store), Netflix (not a TV station), AirBnB (owns no homes), Alibaba (has no inventory), Uber (no cars). Businesses that instead of taking what was available, figured out how to adapt.
What you have now may be old technology, but where you need to be looking, is where do you go now? What should you be doing? Your legacy infrastructure, like the Pontiac and the old-school taxis, cannot provide you with the speed of change of Tesla and Uber. It even leaves you vulnerable to malware and is a security risk.
Hypervisors, a term that came up 20 years back, revolutionised the ability to be able to make more usage out of the server that you had available. It was a great efficiency tool to get more usage out of your infrastructure. Hypervisors scaled, adding more apps and services to computing. But at the bottom was still storage, and storage needed to be upped and expanded just like everything else as more and more data was used as time goes by.
Back to legacy infrastructure, whose problem is that it is fragmented, with multiple pieces that need to be put in place for functionality and solutions. In most cases, the hypervisor, which is at the top, has no concept of what is working at the bottom in the storage area network.
What Nutanix, the internationally acclaimed HCI company has done, is to “allow users to be able to scale, bringing their storage to the core with the single management core that scales without limit. A flexibility that allows you to mix and match different generations, solutions, et al, but from a hyper-convergence perspective. It gets rid of the need for multiple different management centres. It is about simplification, and getting rid of old technology and looking at how to integrate instead,” explains Walshaw.
The deployment from a legacy perspective comes with multiple areas to look at, from the top of the stack to the bottom, with lots of layers to deploy. “It is also very difficult to upgrade. If you have a problem with your legacy environment, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the problem would be,” he says.
“Nutanix gets rid of all of that. We have a simple, easy to use management console. We can manage and install in a very short period of time. It is a single installer for all your deployments and manages across multiple clusters,” explains Walshaw.
It can even deploy remote sites globally whether large or small without sending out staff on location to configure it. “We have a bank that has 20 different locations, but they manage everything from one central location with a hardware contract in place, with the software managed centrally.” This includes supporting all the vendors a customer is likely to use.
This is where invisible infrastructure comes in.
We have a bank that has 20 different locations, but they manage everything from one central location with a hardware contract in place, with the software managed centrally.
Input/Output operations per second
The challenge with existing legacy infrastructure is IOPS around performance. To scale, they must add more functions and features to add more users. So you add more servers, but this does not work. Once again you add another server and virtualise it. But the problem is you keep on buying more servers without getting the performance.
The fact is no matter how many servers you buy because the top is decoupled from the bottom, it will make no difference to the storage at the bottom. So, you add more discs, but you’re still sitting there with the same problem because the storage containers have not expanded with the servers. Essentially, you are throwing money away when it comes to legacy infrastructure.
Scaling with HCI allows for additions to compute, add capacity, have high IOPS (input/output operations per second), mix and match. Once you get one of these babies, you plug it in, and in an hour’s time, it will be up and running with very little needed intervention.
Walshaw states, “From that perspective, you can automatically add capabilities to the existing cluster. I have a customer who has been running us for a year or so and decided they will replace their system with Nutanix. All that they are doing is adding two storage-heavy nodes to their existing infrastructure to be able to cater to their solution. Not only that, but they are also migrating all of their workloads onto the Nutanix solution. Extremely easy and extremely fast to do.”
Should there be a solitary failure in one of the nodes within that cluster, because they keep multiple copies of that data, they can switch on that node with zero interruption. The data is automatically backed up and moved, and will not in any way be affected. “All our customers have a minimum of three nodes that will be able to cater to just such conditions or failures,” concludes Walshaw.
For a more in-depth insight into this fascinating topic, click here for the rest of the webinar including the Q&A segment.
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