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Hyperconverged Systems Enable Scalable On-Premises Deployments

Nutanix Hyperconverged Systems


Cloud deployments come in all types and sizes. Solutions that work for nimble startups may not be appropriate for large enterprises with stringent data sovereignty and compliance needs, for instance. But a requirement to keep mission-critical applications and proprietary data on-premises doesn’t necessarily preclude organizations from leveraging the flexibility of cloud infrastructure.

To address these needs, IBM announced a multiyear partnership with Nutanix, a provider of cloud infrastructure software. The result: IBM Hyperconverged Systems powered by Nutanix.

“A lot of clients—and a lot of IT shops in general—are realizing that public cloud doesn’t solve all their problems,” says Anirban Chatterjee, product marketing manager for IBM Power Systems*. “They need to have a strategy that has resources on-premises, but at the same time, they see a lot of things they like about the simplicity of public cloud. They want to be able to use that same way of thinking on their own on-premises infrastructure too, which is where Nutanix software provides a tremendous amount of value.”

The systems combine the simplicity of Nutanix and the performance of the Power Systems platform for data-intensive workloads, to deliver a cognitive cloud that’s simple to manage and deploy, according to Chatterjee.

Building Blocks to the Cloud

IBM Hyperconverged Systems are the first servers on the market that marry the one-click simplicity and limitless scalability of Nutanix software with the reliability and performance of IBM POWER* architecture. This allows a whole new class of workloads—such as MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Db2*, and SAP products—to run well in a scale-out Power Systems environment.

“Nutanix pioneered a concept in the IT industry for private data centers where we bring together compute, storage, virtualization and the connectivity fabric into a single appliance. An endless number of these appliances can now talk to each other as a single software-defined resource pool to run enterprise applications,” explains Brian Cox, director of product marketing at Nutanix.

The concept has origins with web companies: Traditional infrastructure such as storage area networks couldn’t be deployed quickly enough or managed simply enough to handle the capacity and growth rates of the internet explosion. “They threw out the old model and came up with this simplified building block of what we now call a hyperconverged appliance,” he says.

A standardized building block allowed these web companies fueling the public cloud to start small and grow endlessly—what’s often referred to as “web-scale,” according to Cox.

Rapid Deployment

With the public cloud, an IT manager can whip out his or her credit card and spin up a new instance of infrastructure in a matter of minutes. Nutanix hyperconverged software makes the process just as simple for private cloud deployments.

Clients can deploy nodes with a few clicks. Once the infrastructure arrives at their data center, they simply plug the nodes into the network and they automatically join with each other as an ever-growing resource.

The Best of Both Worlds

The simplified building block-style deployment makes it easy for clients to only purchase what they need and to add additional resources later on. “You don’t have to overbuy,” Cox says. “The same kind of pay-as-you-grow experience you have with the public cloud, we bring to you in your private data center for your private cloud.”

That’s a boon for clients searching for a cloud deployment that meets their organizations’ unique requirements. “A lot of clients are at various stages of deployment or design of a cloud strategy, and many of them are looking for a simple way to deploy a private cloud that also adapts to client needs,” Chatterjee explains.

Simplified Management

Clients want to be able to use cloud infrastructure for a variety of workloads—including data-intensive ones such as cloud-linked databases—and not just applications like email. Because the Nutanix cloud software can accommodate x86 and POWER under a single management console, clients can choose whichever platform is most appropriate for any particular workload and still retain the simplicity of common administration.

The Nutanix software treats all of these separately defined nodes in the clusters as one common pooled resource through Nutanix’s Acropolis cloud OS. “Given that it’s now all one common pool, as you want to deploy workloads you’re not having to assign RAID groups or create new volumes. You avoid all of that so the ongoing management is very, very simple, not only from load balancing, expanding and securing resources, but also for installing new capabilities,” Cox says.

This software-defined common pool of resources eliminates the need to carefully orchestrate virtualization as required in traditional storage environments. “When you’re setting up traditional storage you have to align logical unit numbers, volumes and RAID groups with your virtual machines or virtual disks. We eliminate all of that because we’ve converged the storage, compute and virtualization in a seamless single appliance,” Cox explains.

What’s more, clients can perform upgrades with a single click, driven by an intuitive UI called Prism, which incorporates the best thinking from our favorite products at home—what Nutanix refers to as consumer-grade design. One-click upgrades are scripted into the interface, eliminating guesswork and opportunities for errors that can bring down your system while substantially reducing management time.

Business Benefits

Not only do IBM Hyperconverged Systems allow for quick deployment and one-click management, but they also offer substantial financial benefits. A study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) to quantify the benefits of Nutanix infrastructure found that clients receive a 60 percent reduction in the cost of operations and a 534 percent return on investment over a five-year period1.

While those financial figures are impressive, the value in Nutanix-powered hyperconverged systems comes from its ability to slash the administration burden. The aforementioned IDC study also cited an 85 percent improvement in deployment speed of storage, a 71 percent reduction in management time for the environment and a 98 percent decrease in unplanned downtime.

“We allow IT to be much more responsive because they’re not stuck micromanaging complex infrastructure for an endless number of hours,” Cox says. That last point, Cox says, is attributable to the simplicity of the highly integrated infrastructure and the ability to circumvent problems by having systems management for compute, storage and virtualization across all the nodes and clusters consolidated intuitively on a single console.

Additionally, IBM testing has shown that IBM Hyperconverged Systems with the advanced design of the POWER processor can deliver better than double the price-performance as comparable x86-based hyperconverged solutions for workloads such as MongoDB, EDB PostgreSQL and WebSphere* Application Server.

Best-Fit Infrastructure

One-size-fits-all often falls short in some areas (e.g., clothing), and the same holds true for the IT infrastructure clients run their business applications on. Some of that infrastructure will come from the public cloud—but a large portion is best deployed on-premises in a private cloud.

Clients now have the choice to match off-premises or on-premises infrastructure to meet their organizations’ needs. IBM Hyperconverged Systems offer infrastructure simplicity enabled by the Nutanix software, combined with the performance advantages of POWER architecture to optimally run a private cloud.

1. “Nutanix Delivering Strong Value as a Cost-Effective, Efficient, Scalable Platform for Enterprise Applications” (#US42905717, 2017, IDC, bit.ly/2iejSCK)

Claire Walling is the managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition.


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