Introducing Project Beacon

By Thomas Cornelly, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Nutanix

May 9, 2023 | min

Today Nutanix announced Project Beacon. With Beacon, we are completely reimagining how data-centric platform services are architected and delivered to customers. The vision of this multi-year effort is to unshackle these data services from the underlying infrastructure on which they run, enabling true application portability.

It’s a thorny but important problem to solve. 

Data-centric platform services, such as Database-as-a-Service, are extremely popular with developers and operations teams alike. They enable easy, fast access to powerful data processing capabilities needed to support modern applications without the hassle of managing and maintaining the services themselves. The result is improved developer productivity, simpler database and data services management, and faster time-to-market for new software products and features.

Most enterprises also have or plan to adopt hybrid multicloud architectures. They are doing so for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important ones is to provide the flexibility to run different workloads and applications in different operation environments - on-premises, in colo facilities, in public clouds, and at the edge - based on cost, compliance, latency or other factors. 

In short, enterprises want both ease of application portability and access to powerful data-centric platform services, but today they can only have one or the other. Containers and Kubernetes have made applications portable across environments, but the platform services used to manage, process, and analyze the data associated with applications are tied to specific clouds. As a result, you can run your applications in whatever operating environment you want, but you’ll need to adopt a variety of disparate services, software, and processes to provide the required data services. 

For example, let’s say your development team built a killer retail application running in containers on AWS, and it uses Amazon RDS to provide the database services the app needs to manage customer data. The app serves US-based customers, but it proves so popular that you decide to launch the same application in Europe. The EU has strict data sovereignty laws, so you decide the best operating environment in Europe is a colocation facility in Germany. Containerization makes it easy to move the application as written to the new environment, but you can’t take Amazon RDS with you! You’ll need to deploy and manage databases to support the application in Europe yourself, and you’ll have to rewrite parts of the application to work with the new databases. It’s a costly, complex, and time-consuming process.

But what if the same data-centric platform services were available in all of the major public clouds as well as in your private data center and colo facilities? And you can manage them all from a single control plane? Then you would be able  to run your applications wherever you deem most appropriate AND have ubiquitous access to the simple but powerful data services you need to empower developers and make your applications sing, no complicated application rewriting required. That’s what we have set out to achieve with Project Beacon.

Our initial efforts will focus on making Nutanix Database Service, our Database-as-a-Service offering, available natively on each of the public clouds, easily accessible via cloud marketplaces, and running on public cloud infrastructure. Following that, expect to see us expand to other data services like data streaming, messaging, caching, and AI/ML.

Project Beacon represents a bold, new chapter for Nutanix, and we are excited to take this journey with you, our customers. You can sign up here to get updates on Project Beacon and participate in the beta process as we roll out new capabilities and services in the future.

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