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Building A Data Services Platform with Nutanix

By Sachin Chheda and Chris Paap

The power of information is undeniable. Whether you are an organization in the business of hosting motorsports events like ISC or safely moving millions of passengers like JetBlue, collecting and utilizing information in a timely manner can be a significant competitive advantage. It is no surprise that businesses like Microsoft, Oracle, Tableau, and Nutanix that help other businesses better utilize information have generated tremendous value in the market.

It is also befuddling to see how little effort is put in by today’s organization in their data services infrastructure and applications, and instead deciding to put up with the bewildering variety of legacy systems that make data integration and insight near to impossible. It is not uncommon for organizations to have several silos for their structured databases and unstructured data stored in numerous file servers. The negative consequences of such a setup quickly mount, where the time and effort spent managing infrastructure, and the data may not be commensurate with the value the organizations can extract from it.

Silos of data not only result in complex and poorly utilized infrastructure, but they also reduce the utility of your data, making it difficult to access and analyze information across different sources. It’s not far fetched to extrapolate that organizations are unable to adequately address transformation goals because of their traditional approach to data and information. There is also a significant chance that data will be unavailable or even lost, putting critical application services and entire organizations at risk, or the cumulative cost of maintaining acceptable uptime across the board can be significant.

So how can one go about solving this problem? The first step is to consolidate the persistent data across the organization, including structured and unstructured data stored in databases and files/objects, respectively. This step of consolidation in a highly available and high performance shared service allows for greater control and utilization of the information in the organization. The platform that accomplishes this shared service is commonly referred to as a data services platform.

Nutanix customers have embraced the approach of building a data services platform, taking their data operations to the next level. Here is how:

Databases or Structured Data:

They create a single setup for structured databases i.e. relational database management systems (RDBMS) like Oracle databases, SQL Server, MariaDB, EnterpriseDB, and PostgreSQL. Administrators can deliver databases as a service, quickly with minimal overhead for everyone, traditionally involvement from infrastructure to the databases. Database management tasks like creating clones of existing production databases for developers and test teams, patching, and recovering databases using a time machine like functionality is greatly simplified using Nutanix Era. It is no surprise that large and small organizations have widely adopted this tool.

Data is the resource that drives our customer’s business growth, and ensuring the data maintains high availability includes the operational nightmare of securing the proper database patch levels. The process of eliminating database config and version sprawl requires a standardized method of patching and patch version control across database instances in all environments (Test/Dev/Prod). Nutanix Era simplifies patching by providing out of place patching automation by associating each database with a patching train. Once a new patch is tested and published the organization can automate and schedule updates of all targeted databases to test, dev, and production environments.

Organizations also leverage Nutanix’s DBaaS capabilities across multiple databases like those mentioned above in their existing setup. The most recent release of Era (version 1.1.1) extends DBaaS to Oracle 18c and 19c databases, and SQL Server 2019. DBAs can automate provisioning, cloning and data masking for purposes like development and testing by calling APIs through their existing CI-CD pipeline. Here is an informative blog showing how Era and Nutanix Calm integrate.

This solution brings together the best of on-prem database deployments and cloud-based RDS across a range of RDBMS. Nutanix’s web-scale architecture delivers the performance our customers need support to their transactional (OLTP) and analytical (OLAP) database workloads, ranging in size from modest 100’s of GB to 10’s of TB of active data. Regardless of the scale, zero-byte database clones to any point-in-time and space-efficient incremental snapshots representing full synthetic backups quick and efficient recoverability and availability.

Unstructured Data:

They consolidate their files and object storage, storing and serving their unstructured data from a single platform. For files, it includes serving Windows and Linux/UNIX end-users over SMB and NFS protocols (i.e. mixed protocol support on the same file share). For objects, it includes serving over S3-compatible object protocols. The Nutanix Files and Nutanix Objects are a software-defined scale-out file and object storage solutions. Nutanix customers typically start out using the included files and object licenses of 1TB and 2TB respectively.

Example use cases for files include home directories and group shares. More recently our existing business applications customers are replacing external file servers for storing reports from their SAP, Oracle, and other business applications.

Big Data:

They support their big data deployments including NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, Elastic and SIEM deployments using Splunk on VMware vSphere and increasingly on Nutanix AHV. These workloads are well aligned with Nutanix AOS because deployments like the clusters can start small and then scale both capacity and performance over time. The initial deployment of these applications is also simplified by using Calm blueprints like this one on GitHub for Splunk.

Nutanix has published numerous reference architectures and best practices for workloads like Splunk on AHV. Also, check out the Nutanix NEXT community for more information on the running Elastic on Nutanix including a design for support millions of documents per minute.

Availability and Security:

The data stored on Nutanix regardless of the type is protected by the self-healing web-scale AOS Enterprise Storage (built in as tunable redundancy) and replication to one or more sites including the cloud for backup and disaster recovery. You can read more about this on our data protection solution page here. Keeping on the topic of data protection, Nutanix has also introduced Nutanix Mine for backing up data with our partners Veeam and HYCU. You can read about that here. And on the disaster recovery front, Nutanix has launched Xi Leap, which delivers Disaster Recovery as a Service. This complements the numerous offering by Nutanix X-Powered Service Providers delivering a wide range of Data Services including DBaaS, Files services, Object storage, and customized DRaaS.

Nutanix Enterprise Clouds also takes a holistic approach to data security, integrating protections at every level. This includes built-in data-at-rest encryption using FIPS-140-2 validated encryption modules with software and hardware-based options, built-in Local Key Management, and support for industry-standard Enterprise Key Management solutions, data masking when cloning databases, network micro-segmentation creating VM to VM level firewalls, and enterprise-grade authentication with Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) among other functionality. Read more about this topic here.

Putting the Focus on Data at .NEXT Copenhagen

Nutanix’s CEO and co-founder, Dheeraj Pandey has repeatedly talked about data being at the core of our company. He touched on this most recently on his CUBEconversation with John Furrier as they discussed the upcoming .NEXT Europe 2019.

Those attending .NEXT Europe 2019 in Copenhagen will get their opportunity to dig into the details on how Nutanix is helping our customers build a data platform. Here are the sessions:

  1. On databases
    • Introduction to Database as a Service Using Nutanix Era
    • Oracle and Nutanix - Everything You Need to Know
    • Architecting SQL Server for Performance and Availability
    • Best Practices for Running SAP and HANA on Nutanix
  2. On unstructured data
    • Introduction to Nutanix Files: Intelligent File Storage for the Cloud Era
    • Deep Dive: Nutanix Files
    • Introduction to Simplifying Object Storage with Nutanix Objects
  3. Data Protection and Disaster Recovery
    • Essential Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategies
    • Introduction to DR as a Cloud Service Using Xi Leap
    • Nutanix Mine - Secondary Storage Simplified

The session details and timing can be found at www.nutanix.com/next/agenda.html.

If you are interested in learning more, we invite you to reach out on our community site https://next.nutanix.com and connect with our subject matter experts and your peers on building out a true enterprise-grade Data Services Platform. You can also reach out to the team on email at info@nutanix.com or over Twitter by tagging us @Nutanix.

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