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Nutanix puts software-defined networking in hyper-converged boxes

Hyper-converged appliance pioneer Nutanix puts software-defined networking features in its combined server/storage products to give better networking manageability

Hyper-converged infrastructure supplier Nutanix has added features aimed at bringing enhanced networking capabilities to its products.

Functionality added focuses on improved software-defined capabilites such as end-to-end network monitoring, internal firewalling between apps and their data, and network service profiles for individual workloads.

The company will not, however, be adding networking hardware capability as some other hyper-converged suppliers have.

Key networking functionality announced by Nutanix at its Next event in Vienna, taking place between 8 and 10 November 2016, is headlined by end-to-end visibility of how apps connect via the underlying physical network infrastructure.

This will allow admins to monitor and manage the health of the connection to deal with mis-configured VNICs and VLANs, for example.

All the new features are aimed at reducing the need for specialist networking skills.

A second key functionality launch sees the inclusion of internal firewalling between applications via micro-segmentation.

There will also be the ability to orchestrate different network services in the datacentre, such as firewalls, application delivery controllers and load balancers.

Nutanix made its name as a pioneer of so-called hyper-converged infrastructure in which customers buy compute and storage bundled in appliances (or as a software product for deployment on commodity hardware) that can be linked in a scale-out fashion.

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While the company has focused on the compute and storage aspects of its products over the past five years, the attention to networking squeezed these out at the Next event.

Product marketing director Prabu Rambadran said this is because Nutanix has largely solved the problems it wants to solve in compute and storage.

“They provided a different set of problems that we have solved. But dealing with compute and storage are only stages on a journey. We want to apply software-defined to networking too, and help deal with underlying issues of the network infrastructure,” he said.

In September 2016, Hypergrid launched physical networking capability for its hyper-converged appliances with top-of-rack switch hardware as part of its offer.

Rambadran said Nutanix would not go down this road. “We are essentially a software company and we have no plans to add network hardware,” he said. “We will solve any problems in the networking layer with software and will continue to partner with Arista and Brocade.”

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