VDI Series: Part 4 – Manageability

In my previous blog post, I talked about how the how the Nutanix architecture is designed to rapidly scale while maintaining high performance, enabling organizations to grow their VDI deployments. In this post, I will discuss manageability, an often under-represented facet that is key in making a VDI deployment successful. With large VDI deployments, it is crucial to enable organizations to focus on managing virtual desktops, rather than having to worry about allocation of compute and storage infrastructure resources for these virtual desktops.

Steve Jobs has set a very high bar for manageability. I am a die-hard Apple fan, and firmly believe that the device (or appliance in this case) should do whatever the user wants easily and without fuss. It should be visible and available when needed, and simply get out the way when not.

At Nutanix, we aspire to these same manageability goals. From the get-go, the Nutanix architecture has a distinct advantage in that our platform converges compute and storage. This means that the administrator doesn’t have to worry about multiple instances of storage arrays, and the monolothic pieces of management software that have to be installed on a single management station / desktop. Nutanix gives the admin a single pane of glass that provides visibility to one single system that grows over time to fit the needs of the organization.

At the same time, since the Nutanix architecture greatly simplifies the infrastructure for virtualizing by converging compute and storage together into a single tier, we’re able to streamline existing management processes.

Knowing our end user is a VMware admin these days, we’ve taken an approach that streamlines and simplifies their workflows.  For example, VMware Tools is what VMware admins are spending their time using, so seeking not to disrupt this workflow, we simply stay out of the way.  Rather than reinventing the wheel around these VM management workflows, we defer to VMware on the front-end and instead integrate into the VMware stack on the backend.

Examples include:

– VMFS Support: VMFS datastores are created by default on the Nutanix Complete Cluster. Admins can thus create and manage their virtual machines using standard VMware tools.

– NFS Support: We are about to release support for NFS datastores on Nutanix. With this, VMware will see the Nutanix backend via a standard NFS datastore. See screenshots for how this integrates into the VMware client

– VAAI : With NFS support, we will also release support for VAAI. This allows VMware admins to seamlessly leverage Nutanix snapshots from the VMware console.

– SRM Integration: We are working on Backup and Disaster Recovery integration into VMware SRM (Data Protection is a whole different topic which I will cover in a subsequent blog post)

So how does this make life easier for VDI admins?  VDI admins are accustomed to managing their deployments using a VDI management tool – the two market leaders being VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop.  Nutanix  integration into the VMware stack enables VDI admins to focus on virtual desktops versus worry about the underlying storage management as they would in traditional server and SAN infrastructure solutions.

Having said all of the above about being invisible when we have to be, the Nutanix Console is available when an admin needs it. The Console offers a rich set of functionality that the admin can access when needed:

– Analyzing System Bottlenecks
– Storage usage and forecasting
– Measuring the compute and storage footprint of various applications
– Alerts on various system events
– Managing failed drives
– System expansion and scale-out
– Call Home and Remote Support (More on this in a subsequent blog)

In summary, the key manageability benefits from the Nutanix Complete Cluster are that a) Seamless integration with the VMware front-end workflow and b) Simplification of the configuration, management and troubleshooting for the backend. The Nutanix Complete Cluster removes the complexity in managing a virtualized datacenter, and allows an organization to focus on enabling end users with what they need to be productive, whether the application is delivered via virtual desktop or streamed.