Happy 10th Birthday AHV!

Migrating to AHV is now easier than ever for deployments of all sizes

May 21, 2024 | min

We are excited to announce new capabilities, innovative improvements to core virtualization technologies, as well as expanded deployment options, making it even easier for customers to migrate to Nutanix AHV and manage their environments at scale.

Ten years ago, Nutanix started on a groundbreaking initiative to develop a new enterprise hypervisor named Acropolis, now known as the AHV hypervisor. Inspired by the public cloud approach to virtualization, it was built as an enterprise hypervisor tailor made for the cloud era.

Unlike traditional hypervisors, which often saw virtualization as the defining architectural driver, AHV was designed to embrace a flexible and robust distributed architecture. Nutanix engineers recognized the potential of virtualization to abstract workloads, similar to the strategies employed by leading public cloud providers. Free from the constraints of legacy technologies, AHV emerged as a streamlined, powerful, and modern hypervisor optimized for the future of IT.

The Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure (NCI) software was designed to be hypervisor agnostic, with early versions built to deliver hyperconverged storage to VMware vSphere deployments. By 2014, the compute virtualization hypervisor wars had run their course with VMware as the clear winner, so the conventional wisdom was against investing in building a new enterprise hypervisor.

Yet, when Nutanix introduced its groundbreaking hyperconverged architecture, the company’s engineers began envisioning the potential of a new kind of hypervisor – one that seamlessly integrated storage and network virtualization alongside traditional compute virtualization. With a foundational data platform already in place, they designed a lightweight yet powerful hypervisor that leveraged an existing distributed database for maintaining state, unlike other mainstream hypervisors that required a separate database to be built and maintained.

This full-stack design enabled streamlined operations not previously possible: from one-click full stack patching and upgrades to plug-and-play self-service workload provisioning, along with optimized data path for high-performance storage. The tightly integrated architecture also facilitated focused and streamlined development efforts, enabling AHV to support advanced virtualization features within a few short years

A decade later, innovation continues at pace while traction with the partner ecosystem continues to accelerate. Today, over 17,000 customers run Nutanix AHV in production, with over 1000 certified applications.

Expanded Deployment Options

As traditional virtualization customers seek alternatives, upcoming new deployment options will make it even easier and more cost-effective to migrate to Nutanix AHV. This enables them to modernize their infrastructure to take advantage of the latest server hardware. Whether customers are interested in migrating away from traditional three-tier or existing HCI deployments, these new capabilities will make it possible to repurpose existing hardware for their Nutanix infrastructure.

For organizations aiming to deliver more cloud-like services and agility, moving away from a legacy three-tier architecture is crucial. The ability to repurpose existing servers, including blade servers, will streamline the migration process for customers seeking to modernize their operations by moving to Nutanix HCI.

This new AHV Server capability, currently under development, makes it easier than ever for three-tier customers to migrate to Nutanix by enabling them to repurpose existing VMware ESXi hosts to run the Nutanix AHV hypervisor. This innovation will address concerns some customers had regarding early HCI implementations, namely the fixed ratio of storage and compute resources.

Nutanix has elegantly solved this challenge with an architecture that supports storage-only nodes, compute-only nodes, and a mix of node types and configurations within a cluster. This flexibility will expand upon existing deployment options, facilitating even simpler migrations and increased cost efficiency. Additionally, support for blade servers will increase deployment flexibility beyond rack-mounted servers, a common deployment pattern for traditional virtualization environments. Nutanix is working to first certify Cisco UCS blade servers as part of the Nutanix Elevate Program.

VMware vSAN customers are also increasingly looking to migrate to the Nutanix platform. Soon, they will be able to repurpose their vSAN ReadyNode configurations for Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure (NCI), including AHV. vSAN ReadyNodes are server configurations specifically qualified to run VMware’s HCI product vSAN, but customers looking to transition away from VMware will appreciate the opportunity to leverage their existing hardware investments.

Nutanix engineers are spearheading the effort to support NCI on widely deployed vSAN ReadyNode configurations. This initiative is based on market presence and customer demand.

New Capabilities and Core Innovations

AHV includes a full suite of enterprise capabilities, enabling organizations to transition completely to Nutanix without needing to compromise functionality. Ongoing innovation is now focused on streamlining management at scale, simplifying migrations to AHV, and continuing to innovate core virtualization technologies.

One of the most important parts of enabling a cloud operating model is the ability for users to self-service deploy and manage their applications. As deployments scale, it can take extra effort from administrators to keep resources balanced. Automatic Cluster Selection addresses this issue by automatically balancing across multiple clusters as new VMs are deployed. This feature simplifies the delivery of a cloud-like experience from Nutanix administrators to their users, requiring minimal management overhead.

Balancing resources within a cluster is crucial, a task which is managed by the Dynamic Scheduling feature (ADS). This capability ensures that resources are kept balanced by live migrating VMs from hosts with high utilization to those with lower utilization. While live migration has been part of AHV since it launched, the introduction of Micro Stunning has made migrations even faster and less impactful on the applications running within migrating VMs. By handling memory replication and CPU throttling on a per CPU basis, Micro Stunning reduces the impact of migrating VMs, resulting in faster migrations and more consistent application performance, especially for highly active VMs and in highly dynamic environments.

Another important capability for virtualized environments is Metro Availability, which AHV has supported since 2021. Metro Availability enables synchronous data replication between clusters, usually in different locations, and automatically restarts workloads on the destination cluster in the case of primary cluster failure. Thanks to the full stack integrated Nutanix HCI architecture, configuring and managing Metro Availability on NCI is simpler than with legacy three tier-systems.

Building on this capability, the upcoming Metro Multisite capability, currently under development, will enable simultaneous replication to two clusters, increasing resiliency in the case of natural disasters or other catastrophic events. This capability is particularly relevant as it helps customers adhere to the Digital Operations Resilience Act (DORA), which will become a requirement for financial institutions in the EU and their respective information and technology (ITC) vendors starting January 2025. DORA requires institutions to maintain at least one secondary site to aid in business continuity in the face of a disruption.


After a decade of relentless innovation, AHV has evolved into a mature enterprise hypervisor, trusted by some of the world’s largest organizations. Not only does AHV deliver critical enterprise capabilities required for supporting the most demanding enterprise workloads, it also delivers unmatched simplicity for deploying and managing various workloads at scale.

The pace of innovation remains rapid, exemplified by the new micro-stunning live migration enhancement, automatic cluster selection, and multi-site metro clustering features. With an expansion in server platforms, particularly the ability to re-use previously deployed servers, migrating to AHV has become even easier and more cost-effective.

If you’re already an AHV customer, take advantage of the latest and greatest features by upgrading to AOS 6.8. For those interested in trying out AHV for the first time, take a Test Drive to see AHV in action.

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