Nutanix launches Clusters in AWS for hybrid cloud hyper-converged infrastructure

HCI pioneers launches Nutanix Clusters, which will provide hyper-converged deployments across customer datacentres and the Amazon cloud, but only in Acropolis and on AWS for now

Nutanix has announced general availability of Nutanix Clusters hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud. Key use cases targeted are the ability to lift and shift workloads to the public cloud, in particular in cloud-bursting scenarios as well as disaster recovery uses.

Nutanix Clusters on AWS was already available as an early-access scheme and is aimed for use on bare metal instances on EC2. According to Nutanix senior vice-president (SVP) of engineering, Manoj Agarwal, the product will run equally on-premise or in the cloud because, in both cases, what’s happening is deployment of an operating system to commodity hardware.

“In terms of the operating system, deployment on AWS is identical to the private cloud,” said Agarwal.

Key use cases, said Agarwal, will include lift-and-shift of legacy applications from datacentre to the cloud, as well as those that are characterised by the use of the cloud’s elasticity, such as the ability to rapidly spin up extra compute and storage capacity – for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) desktop provision at busy times, for example – as well as ephemeral test and development workloads and disaster recovery (DR).

Customers will see deployed AWS instances as if they were just another datacentre via their Nutanix Prism management plane, with compute and storage portable between on-site and cloud locations. Having said that, while Nutanix supports its own Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV), VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V in its on-site deployments, it will only support AHV in the AWS cloud.

According to Agarwal, the company has made provision that means that lack of hypervisor support is not a problem. For example, customers that use VMware on-site can carry out DR using AHV on AWS and fail back to VMware. Agarwal said there were “no plans” to extend the use of other hypervisors to AWS and that any moves in this direction will “depend on customers”.

In addition, Nutanix Clusters will only be available on AWS for now. Agarwal didn’t rule out that the product would be available on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform “at some point”, but stressed that would also depend on customer demand.

Nutanix cluster licences will be portable between on-site and cloud and the company also plans to introduce a pay-as-you-go option.

Nutanix emerged as one of the pioneers of hyper-converged infrastructure. This is where compute and storage are bundled into nodes complete with a virtualisation hypervisor that can be built into scale-out clusters.

It has gained popularity for small to larger (though not usually the largest) deployments because of its ease of roll-out and maintenance. Early on, HCI was dubbed “datacentre in a box” for its ability to provide everything needed – server, storage and virtualised operating environment – in one product.

Suppliers such as Nutanix have now taken that concept to the cloud, with Clusters allowing customers to deploy HCI to bare metal instances in AWS.

That chimes with the recent trend towards hybrid cloud and multi cloud operations. We have seen suppliers develop distributed file systems and object storage products that can operate between on-site and cloud locations, mainstream storage suppliers that allow tiering to the cloud from array products as well as network-attached storage (NAS) products that can run in the cloud, and here we have hyper-converged infrastructure providers with the ability to operate across multiple on- and off-site locations.

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