The Nutanix Solution

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is a web-scale converged infrastructure solution that consolidates the compute (server) tier and the storage tier into a single, integrated appliance.

Nutanix uses the same web-scale principles and technologies that power the IT environment at innovative web companies and cloud providers such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Nutanix makes web-scale accessible to mainstream enterprises and government agencies without requiring an overhaul of their IT environments.

The Nutanix solution is radically simple compared to traditional datacenter infrastructures.

  • Rapid time to value: deployment in under an hour
  • No disruption to ongoing operations
  • Predictable, linear scaling
  • Powerful off-the-shelf, non-proprietary hardware
  • Lower cost and complexity of storage
  • Advanced, enterprise-class storage capabilities

How Nutanix Works
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The modular building-block design allows your organization to start with small deployments and grow incrementally into very large cluster installations. With one appliance, you can move from a small operation to handling large enterprise deployments including server virtualization, virtualized business applications, virtual desktop initiatives, test and development environments, big data (e.g. Splunk, Hadoop) projects, and more.

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform integrates high-performance server resources with enterprise-class storage in a cost-effective 2U appliance. It eliminates the need for network-based storage architecture, such as a storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS). The scalability and performance that the world’s largest, most efficient datacenters enjoy are now available to all enterprises and government agencies.


Converged datacenter infrastructures deliver services more economically and efficiently with fewer dedicated resources. The power of convergence is best demonstrated by the integration of shared storage into the server tier to drive faster I/O performance. Cloud pioneers like Google and Facebook have demonstrated that older technologies like SAN and NAS have no place in a modern datacenter. Compute and storage resources must be co-resident to deliver data I/O with low latency and with the ability to scale without constraints.

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform converges compute and storage into a single system, eliminating the need for traditional storage arrays. Each Nutanix node runs an industry-standard hypervisor and a Nutanix controller VM, which handles all I/O operations for the local hypervisor. Storage resources are exposed to the hypervisor through traditional interfaces, and are pooled and made available to all VMs. The convergence of compute and storage into a single appliance provides a flexible, scalable building block for the modern datacenter.


Scaling datacenter infrastructures by deploying increasingly more powerful and expensive servers, storage and networks is no longer a viable strategy. It is too expensive. It is inflexible. It does not deliver resource elasticity. This vertical scale up approach is being rapidly superseded by Google-like scale-out strategies that increase scale horizontally – using large numbers of commodity x86 services managed and orchestrated by distributed software.

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is the antithesis of a single machine. It provides a unified, always-on cluster of compute and storage nodes that can run any virtual machine at massive scale. If more storage or compute capacity is required, additional Nutanix nodes can be added non-disruptively, one at a time. Newly powered-on nodes are instantly discovered by the running environment and can be added to the cluster within minutes while the cluster remains active. At this point the compute nodes can be added to the cluster and tools like VMware’s DRS or Microsoft’s PRO can dynamically balance the workload to the newly added nodes. Unlike traditional SAN/NAS solutions that are limited to a small number of hardware-based controllers, the Nutanix, software-based, n-way controller architecture scales proportionately with cluster growth. Enterprises benefit from a scale-out technology that is economical, flexible and predictable.

Software Defined

A software-defined solution is one that de-couples policy control from the hardware substrate. Intelligence is abstracted into a distributed software layer, rather than being ‘baked’ into specialized hardware, for programmatic control and simpler centralized management. Enterprise data storage is an emerging software-defined service that delivers greater flexibility, improved agility and superior economics than traditional storage solutions whose feature sets are tightly coupled to hardware.

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform employs a highly distributed software architecture to deliver enterprise data storage as an on-demand service. The system embeds all control logic into intelligent virtual machines that run on each cluster node. As a 100% software-driven solution, all Nutanix services are ‘late bound.’ Policy controls are never tied to hardware. Additionally, all software-defined services are entirely VM-centric, including snapshots, high availability, disaster recovery, de-duplication and more. The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform transforms storage from a passive keeper of data to into an active system.

Server-attached Flash

With dramatically faster I/O performance than traditional hard disk drives (HDD), flash technology is rapidly pushing into mainstream datacenter architectures. Flash-based storage, however, must be placed as close as possible to the compute tier in order to fully utilize its performance advantages. The benefits of flash are degraded when data is separated from the application/server tier by a storage network, which can often bottleneck performance. Server-attached flash must also provide an elastic storage resource for the entire infrastructure, not just for the workloads running on that physical server.

The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform integrates enterprise-grade flash into each node – converging flash and compute resources into a single appliance to deliver the fastest possible application performance. The Nutanix Distributed File System pools server-attached flash capacity across all Nutanix nodes into a single shared resource that is accessible to all virtual machines in the cluster. Unlike competing flash-based storage solutions, Nutanix maintains a fully persistent data tier in flash – not just a cached copy. The Virtual Computing Platform also distributes metadata intelligently throughout the flash tier to enable massive and truly linear scale-out.


Datacenter architectures are evolving along multiple dimensions. Broad acceptance of public cloud infrastructures (e.g., IaaS and SaaS) enables enterprises to build hybrid cloud datacenters, which fuse public and private cloud resources. At the same time, the growth in virtual workloads is motivating IT teams to embrace multiple virtualization technologies to lessen any dependence upon a single virtual ‘stack.’

Nutanix has designed its Virtual Computing Platform for hybrid deployments. Its distributed software architecture is completely hypervisor agnostic, and runs on all popular hypervisors, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and open source KVM. Nutanix customers, for example, can run vSphere virtual machines (VMs) adjacent to KVM-based VMs to facilitate mixed workload environments. Similarly, Nutanix is built to function independently of storage media. Besides storing data using local high-capacity hard disk drives and advanced solid-state flash, the Nutanix architecture is extensible. It will enable easy consumption of public clouds via standards-based APIs to build seamless hybrid cloud environments.