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Hyper-converged infrastructure appliance maker Nutanix has added support for containers, the ability to use its boxes as iSCSI block storage for physical servers and all-flash storage options for all its products.
The company’s new Acropolis Container Services – announced at its .Next event in Las Vegas, which took place on 20-22 June 2016 – allows customers to run containers in the on-board hypervisor.
The new feature will allow Nutanix to provide persistent storage to containers, which are, by default, stateless.
Nutanix marketing director Prabu Rambadran said: “Containers have been popular for a small set of use cases, such as test-dev and scale-out web-based apps where data can be ephemeral.
“We’re trying to democratise them for use with enterprise apps as well, for example with transactional data on Oracle, SQL, where that data must be retained.”
Containers have gained popularity for their ability to aid rapid deployment of internet-ready apps, without some of the overheads associated with virtual machines.
By default, container storage is stateless so when containers stop running for whatever reason – planned or unplanned – storage (especially databases, logs and user data, for example) is lost and isn’t resumed when they are re-started.
However, recently storage suppliers have come out with ways of allowing container storage to be persistent, so making containers suited to applications where data integrity is critical.
The ability to run containers on bare metal (actually on the Nutanix OS) will be added by the end of 2016.
Nutanix also added the ability for its appliances to be used as block storage for physical servers, via iSCSI, in Acropolis Block Services.
This keys into the fact that, for many organisations, up to half of workloads may still not be virtualised. Reasons include licensing and the need to ensure performance for critical apps.
Will Nutanix add Fibre Channel connectivity? This might be seen as important, given an organisation’s most critical SAN-based applications often run on Fibre Channel.
Rambadran said no. “The goal is to eliminate that layer of infrastructure. That type of network should not be needed with 10Gbps and 40Gbps Ethernet deployed now. So, we’re not actively pursuing that option.”
Nutanix has also announced the capability for all its hyper-converged appliances to be all-flash. Previously, this was possible only in the all-flash NX-9000 series.
Hyper-converged products combine compute and storage in one box with virtualisation capability. They have emerged in recent years as competition to discrete server and storage products, with key suppliers including Nutanix, Scale Computing, Simplivity and VMware’s EVO:Rail.