Evolution of the Datacenter

Traditional datacenter architectures employ discrete tiers of compute (servers) and storage, which are connected by a dedicated network such as a storage area network (SAN) or a network attached storage (NAS) system.

While SAN and NAS-based architectures have been the mainstay of many enterprise datacenters, they are straining under the demands of a modern virtualized environment. They simply were not designed to handle the explosion of VMs and the resulting I/O needs of today’s enterprise.

While SANs have served admirably, they are quickly becoming a handicap for the next generation of datacenters. SANs have:

  • Poor scalability for virtualized workloads
  • Lack of IT agility. VM provisioning tightly coupled with inflexible back-end storage systems
  • Network performance bottlenecks under the explosion of I/O requirements in VMs
  • Prohibitive capital expenditures on oversized storage arrays
  • Unsustainable operational costs to support SAN fabrics built from multiple vendors

A Radical Change is in Order

Fortunately, leading datacenter architects have designed a better approach. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft have embraced converged architectures that collapse disparate compute and storage tiers into unified systems. These completely eliminate the need for network-based storage systems like the SAN.

IT organizations are moving toward data center convergence, forcing storage architects to
re-evaluate SAN protocol selections, storage processes, and best practices.

- Gartner, November 1, 2012

Source: 2013 Planning Guide: Data Center, Infrastructure,
Operations, Private Cloud and Desktop Transformation


The infrastructure convergence pioneered by these trailblazing companies preserves the benefits of shared storage and reduces the cost and complexity of the storage network. It greatly increases overall datacenter performance, scalability, and efficiency.

Datacenter Visionaries

Datacenter Innovators

When Google, Facebook, Amazon and other leading cloud providers set out to design a next-generation datacenter, they threw away the playbook. They understood that if they relied upon traditional hardware-centric architectures, which demanded ever more powerful servers, networks and storage arrays, they would fail. Instead, these technological pioneers re-invented how scalable datacenters were built and managed.

They embraced a highly distributed software model that was implemented on clusters of commodity hardware. They also took the bold step of converging compute and storage resources into a single tier, thus removing the complexity of a storage network. By integrating datacenter intelligence into software instead of hardware, and eliminating costly network infrastructure, Google and others have been able to realize both massive scale and rapid feature velocity. At the same time, they have achieved unheard of economics by eliminating the need to upgrade hardware simply to achieve greater performance or scale, while still increasing overall reliability.

Nutanix has incorporated these same design principles into its Virtual Computing Platform. For the first time, Google-like scale and performance is available to mainstream enterprises.


What the experts are saying

Quote ebay

The TCO of internal cloud creation, usage and maintenance is often larger than one initially expect. Nutanix helped us bring this down significantly and the NX-3000 series continues this trend of savings through better density, lower latency, and keeping the simplicity. For us, at scale, simplicity is key.

- Drew Trieger, Virtualization Architect, eBay

Quote George Crump

Scaling the virtual environment is critical to realizing the ROI potential of server and desktop virtualization projects. The moment more server hosts have to be added because virtual machine (VM) density has reached its limit the ROI for the project stops. One of the biggest limitations to VM density are storage performance and the complexity of SAN designs caused by the virtual environment.

—George Crump, “Building The SAN-Less Data Center,” Storage Switzerland