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Nutanix’s Acropolis free hypervisor takes aim at VMware

Hyper-converged server/storage pioneer launches free-of-charge hypervisor in an explicit move to tempt customers from existing VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V deployments

Nutanix has launched a free-of-charge hypervisor, named Acropolis, in a move aimed at taking a swing at virtualisation environments from VMware and Microsoft.

The launch came at Nutanix’s June .NEXT event in Miami, with the Acropolis hypervisor launched in tandem with an enterprise-class virtualisation management platform, Prism, in its so-called Xtreme Computing Platform (XCP).

Nutanix, until now a pioneer of the hyper-converged server/storage appliance, will provide the products free of charge to its customers.

They provide the capability to convert and move virtual machines and applications between hypervisors. Nutanix product marketing director Greg Smith described this as “decouple[ing] the application from the virtualisation layer”.

Smith said customers could move apps from another hypervisor to the Linux KVM-based Acropolis in “two minutes” by powering down, converting virtual machine (VM) formats, installing Acropolis and migrating the converted components.

“It’s not overly challenging – it’s a format conversion and the injection of the necessary drivers,” he said.

This functionality is explicitly aimed at making it easy for customers to move from existing hypervisors to Acropolis and avoid the high costs involved, said Smith.

“It’s aimed at customers that want to move from an existing virtualisation environment and overcome the virtualisation tax,” he added.

Read more about VMware and Nutanix

  • VMware is fighting some vigorous skirmishes, most notably with hyper-converged storage supplier Nutanix. Its fight with Nutanix has the character of that between incumbent empire and new, upstart rival.
  • It's rare that a storage-related technology arises without there being any acquisitions, but hyper-converged compute/storage has seemingly sidestepped that familiar cycle.

Smith outlined Nutanix’s aim to make the hypervisor free to customers. The move comes amid an atmosphere of conflict between VMware and Nutanix.

“We see the hypervisor as a commodity. Acropolis and Prism come at no cost – these things should be the new sheet metal in the datacentre,” he said.

“If customers like VMware and Hyper-V, they can stay with them. We’re simply giving a choice. With Acropolis and Prism they can provision a handful of VMs to evaluate their needs very easily.

“Our goal is to make the infrastructure invisible. We’ve succeeded with storage, with a 52% share of the hyper-converged market according to IDC. Now we’re going to make the infrastructure stack invisible.”

Nutanix emerged in 2011 as a pioneer in the hyper-converged space, with products that combined servers and storage that could be grown in scale-out fashion. Starting with three or four nodes customers could add compute and storage in a grid-like way to theoretically limitless scale. It initially supported VMware, but added support for KVM and Hyper-V hypervisors in 2013 and 2014.

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