Serve Files with Enterprise Cloud Agility, Security, and Availability with Acropolis File Services


By Dwayne Lessner
| min

We are happy to announce that Acropolis File Services (AFS) is planned to be generally available (GA) in the Asterix software release. We have been working on adding several features to this GA version, building upon the exciting Tech-Preview version of AFS that has been available since AOS 4.6. This simple and easy to manage scale out file service will be integrated into the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform to make daily operations a breeze. Once fully released, AFS can be enabled on any Nutanix cluster in a few clicks.

Faster Deployment Times

The deployment times for the file services VMs are to be streamlined for faster deployment and lower impact if other workloads are running on the cluster. The AFS components are downloaded automatically by the Nutanix cluster or can be uploaded separately in the case of dark sites.

Once the AFS gold image is copied into the AFS-specific container, it is cloned multiple times, once per file server VM using the same security baseline as the virtual storage controller which meets and exceeds the highest security standards. This is great for service providers or customers supporting multiple domains in their organization.

Backup and DR

Nutanix provides an integrated and automated disaster recovery solution, either replicating to a storage only (NX-6035C-G5) Nutanix cluster for backup and/or secondary Nutanix cluster. AFS cluster can be managed from Prism and uses the same familiar async replication interface.

When protection is enabled, a corresponding protection domain is created. Once AFS is protected, all future operations on it such as adding/removing file server VMs or adding/deleting file server VM would automatically updated.

Multi-Hypervisor Support

vSphere support is planned to be added along with AHV to allow for customers who have spare compute to add file services to their existing clusters.


AFS Share and User level quotas are intended to be one of the key features bringing granular file and share security to AFS. Quotas will have the ability to set soft and hard limits so users can be warned before access to writing is stopped. Email alerts will be sent to the user and additional administrative can be setup as well.

Access Based Enumeration

Access Based Enumeration (ABE) is a Windows (SMB protocol) feature which allows the users to list only the files and folders to which they have read access when browsing content on the file server.

ABE filters the list of available files and folders on file server to include only those that the requesting user has access to. This can be used to hide file folders that may contain sensitive data or files that only certain users need to see. It improves upon granular read only access by filtering and hiding files/folders.

Hot Detection Load Balancing

We are also working on AFS recommendations based on how hot the data is being accessed on the share. Options will be given to scale out by adding more file server VMs or scale up by adding/moving the backing Share to a different host by another file server VM. Once the user selects the recommendation the background work is automated for the user.


In true Nutanix fashion, each individual file server VM has been tested to support 15 million files. A small 3 VM AFS cluster could support 45 million files. Both adding and removing filer server VMs to the AFS cluster with Prism provide extra support head room.


Per-Connection cache to be implemented for enhanced metadata operations. This would allow for great performance but also speeds backups if using backup tools like Commvault that will scan the metadata looking for changes.

User and General Purpose Shares

We have two proposed share types, User and General Purpose. The User Share is designed to distribute data by dividing the top-level directories across all of the file server VMs that make up the file server. This solution provides the ability to have a huge name space while not running into bottlenecks. Since the top-level directories are distributed, files cannot be written to the root of the share.

If a user creates a share called “\FileServer1Users,” which contains top-level directories Bob, Becky, and Dwight, Bob may be on file server VM1, Becky on file server VM2, Dwight on file server VM3, and so on. The file server VMs use a string hashing algorithm based on the directory names to distribute the top-level directories.

Image Serve Files

General shares have been available in current preview versions of the software. General shares do not distribute top level directories. The files and sub folders for a General share will always be owned by one file server at any one time. If, for example, we have two General shares, Accounting and IT, on the same file server then it would be distributed like the diagram below.

Image Serve Files

General shares allow for writing to the root of the share if needed.

TRIM Support

The ability to unmap deleted files and reclaim the space for incoming files. Keeps the file system clean and maintain high performance with future write operations.

Health Checks

Save time with troubleshooting with built-in in health checks that are designed to look for problems that might exist outside of AFS, like Active directory and time drift issues.

If we look at the picture I’ve painted for you with all of these planned features, we begin to see that Acropolis File Services is designed to bring the Enterprise Cloud mindset to file shares. Administrators will no longer waste time with manual configuration or need Active Directory and load balancing expertise. Moreover, the Nutanix Prism UI makes scaling your solution easy and fast. AFS is the perfect start or building block that takes you beyond just hyperconverged infrastructure and into the Enterprise Cloud. Reduce your administrative time and effort, maintain your enterprise file services with efficiency, and check out what AFS can do for you.