7 Reasons to Upgrade to AOS 5.5
After much anticipation, AOS 5.5 is here! While many are focused on the star of this release, Calm automation and orchestration, I thought it would be good to share some thoughts on the top reasons to upgrade to 5.5 beyond Calm. Though Calm is a very cool new offering, our engineers have not forgotten the rest of the Enterprise Cloud OS software as AOS 5.5 brings over 50 new features and enhancements. There are too many items to cover in a quick blog post so below are a few highlights. Remember to check the release notes for complete details.
Reason 1: Achieve low RPO times with Near Sync Replication
Nutanix is the clear leader in hyperconverged infrastructures (HCI). One of the reasons for that status is our attention to storage and data features and functions needed by enterprise applications. For some time, we have offered site-to-site replication in two forms: asynchronous and synchronous. Depending on budgets or technical restrictions additional options are needed that can still meet business goals. Synchronous replication is frequently a highly desired function for business continuity or disaster recovery (BC/DR) use cases, but it can have latency and distance requirements that may be cost prohibitive or impractical. AOS 5.5 introduces a third option that can bridge that gap between sync and async: near-sync replication. With near-sync, it’s possible to achieve 1-minute RPO times without the distance and latency requirements of traditional synchronous replication implementations.
Reason 2: Protecting Data with Software Based Data at Rest Encryption
Not a week goes by that there isn’t news about security breaches or consumer data loss. This has brought needed attention back to enterprise IT that is tasked with protecting corporate assets and valuable customer data. One of the key tools in data protection is encryption. Nutanix currently supports use of hardware-based data encryption using industry standard self-encrypting drives (SED). SEDs are a great solution for encryption, but they bring a couple of challenges. SEDs can be more costly than non-encrypting drives and they must also be deployed as an independent cluster. Acropolis Data Encryption (ADE) offers a an additional option in a software based encryption solution that does not rely on any specialized hardware and can still deliver data encryption that meets FIPS 140-2 standards.
Reason 3: Additional Security from Network Micro-segmentation
Continuing the security topic, the concept of defense-in-depth is a cornerstone of IT security that is designed to reduce attack surface and restrict the reach of any compromised asset. The complexity of creating and managing smaller (VM to VM) zones or enclaves of security has long be the reason for not implementing granular VM or application level network security. With the microsegmentation feature Nutanix not only allows policy and enforcement around very granular network communication policy, we introduce the concept of categories which greatly simplifies the policy definition and ongoing management. Network policies are not restricted to only using network endpoint identifiers, like IP address. Policy writers need only define the policy containers (e.g. production, dev/test, DMZ) and set rules around the allowed or denied communication between those containers. VMs are easily added and removed from those categories and will automatically inherit the correct policy. To further simplify the policy generation task, comprehensive visualization is provided so that even applications where the “correct” communication is unknown can be observed to ensure correct rule creation. Micro-segmentation is included in AOS 5.5 as a technology preview so that all customers can try the feature and provide feedback.
Reason 4: Expanding Customer Choice with Microsoft Hyper-V 2016
Another unique characteristic of Nutanix is our broad support of hardware and virtualization platforms. We have many customers using Hyper-V and are looking to take advantage of some of the enhancements that came along with Server 2016. AOS 5.5 now fully supports Hyper-V 2016 and we have made it even easier to upgrade via our popular 1-click management functions, Hyper-V customers can quickly upgrade their hypervisor without leaving the Prism management interface.
Reason 5: Prism Central Enhancements for Dynamic Alerting and Management
Prism is the face of Nutanix and where the genius of how Nutanix makes IT operations simple can be seen. Even though Nutanix makes infrastructure simple and invisible, the applications that we support can be complex. When managing and troubleshooting complex applications it’s important to have deep operational insights and this is what Prism provides. With AOS 5.5 we have added many additional functions into Prism Central to help ensure continued operation of those applications. The biggest additions are: Dynamic alerting, VM right-sizing, and scheduled reporting. Dynamic alerting takes the noise and guess work out of alert monitoring. By looking for anomalous behavior in key performance indicators (KPI) the operator is no longer restricted by high utilization watermarks or less granular event thresholds. Alerts and alarms are generated when the system deviates from “normal operations”. With VM right-sizing VM resource allocation and reclamation is a breeze – resulting in optimal utilization of the Nutanix environment. Detailed guidance for identifying over and under provisioned, idle/zombie, and even bully VMs that may be hogging resources is provided. Lastly scheduled reporting ties it all together by making it even easier to share utilization and other insights with the team or out to application owners. Take the detailed Prism dashboards and create PDF versions that are scheduled to automatically be delivered via email.
Reason 6: A New IO Subsystem Delivers Increased Performance
If you have been a long-time customer of Nutanix, it will be no surprise that this release brings performance enhancements. This time, in addition to the normal tweaks to storage performance we are seeing both the support for new storage technologies and a new software enhancement that delivers additional performance just by upgrading. The biggest enhancement is tied to both areas and it called AHV Turbo. AOS 5.5 will enable remote direct memory access (RDMA). RDMA is a direct memory access from the memory of one computer into that of another with no remote CPU or operating system involvement. This enables low latency networking and high-throughput. Nutanix leverages this technology in the data replication paths between CVMs. As a result, writes can have up to 30% lower latency. To best support new low latency storage tech like NVMe drives or RDMA communications, it was necessary to ensure that the entire software stack not only supported the devices but also could take advantage of the added performance. AHV Turbo is a completely new IO subsystem. (Apologies to those not using AHV yet. This one is AHV only and should be one more reason to consider the option). Since AHV is completely in our control, we can optimize the full Nutanix software stack to support these new devices and deliver optimal VM performance for the most demanding enterprise applications. The great thing about AHV Turbo is even existing deployments will see the performance benefit. Check the release notes or our AHV Turbo specific blogs for more details.
Reason 7: Enhanced Desktop Graphics with AHV vGPU Support
We can’t leave out virtual desktops (VDI) when discussing Nutanix. VDI remains a very popular workload for Nutanix customers based on performance and the financial benefits of leveraging the build-in and license-free AHV virtualization stack. AHV has been certified Citrix Ready since 2015 and is the best HCI solution for Citrix VDI. We are now enhancing that solution with support vGPU support based on NVIDIA GPU cards. Desktops with vGPU get the additional horsepower needed for the Windows 10 power user or graphical intense applications like medical imaging, CAD or photo editing.
It was hard to keep this post short, and hopefully you stuck with it to the end and are excited to download and try out AOS 5.5. There still is quite a bit more that I didn’t cover, you can get all the documentation, read the release notes, and download the upgrade bundles from the customer portal at my.nutanix.com. We encourage you to try out the 5.5 release and let us know what you liked, what you didn’t and what else you would like to see in the product.
If you are new to Nutanix, we invite you to start the conversation on how Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform can work for your IT environment. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter Nutanix and join the conversation in our community forums.
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