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Manage Infrastructure Cost and Monitor Applications with Prism

By Steve Carter and Mayank Gupta

As of the AOS 5.18 release, Prism ships separately from AOS, increasing product velocity and improved flexibility for customers. We have also introduced a new licensing tier, Prism Ultimate, which enables IT to better serve engineers and developers with increased agility. As part of this transition, Prism licensing now includes Starter, Pro, and Ultimate tiers. Prism Starter is the set of infrastructure management capabilities that have always been included with every AOS license. Prism Pro has existed for years and continues to be enhanced and improved. Prism Ultimate contains a new set of capabilities specifically designed for engineering and development operations.

A Brief Clarification about Prism Central and Prism Element

Prism can be accessed via either of two consoles: Prism Element (PE) or Prism Central (PC), both of which are available to Nutanix AOS customers without any licensing costs. PE is embedded in each AOS cluster as part of the controller virtual machine (CVM) and can be used to manage the infrastructure and VMs for the cluster. PC runs as a separate service, either as a single VM or as a cluster of VMs (for fault tolerance) and can be used to manage all of your AOS clusters from a single interface. PC communicates with each cluster by being registered by the PE instance deployed with the cluster. PC is also where the Pro and Ultimate tier capabilities are delivered.

Figure 1 - Prism PE and PC

Introducing Prism Ultimate

A new offering to deliver enhanced infrastructure and operations management for Nutanix, Prism’s Ultimate tier enables IT to serve engineers and developers with greater agility. In addition to the functionality currently included in Prism’s Pro tier, Prism Ultimate adds application insights for targeted troubleshooting of application-related infrastructure bottlenecks. As illustrated in the table in Figure 4, the first application to be supported is SQL Server, with additional workloads coming in future releases. The Ultimate tier will support additional automation capabilities, as well as integration with Xi Beam to offer clear insights on cost metering for on-prem resources. These features for budgeting and chargeback powered by Beam Services help drive practical, enterprise-wide efficiency efforts in organizations. 

Recent PC Releases

The first independent PC release was 2020.7, released in July of 2020. In addition to enabling independent releases, PC 2020.7 added right-click support on the PC Entity Browser page for streamlined VM and entity management workflows.

PC 2020.8 shipped in August, within the same timeframe as AOS 5.18, and includes general improvements to PC performance and responsiveness as well as a set of new capabilities.

X-Play Enhancements

PC 2020.8 includes a new set of X-Play enhancements, extending the codeless task automation capabilities of Prism. These include conditional execution workflows, data parsing actions for parsing specific information from strings, playbook portability, and the ability to add wait actions and enhancements to time triggers. Together these new enhancements enable you to automate more sophisticated workflows with greater flexibility.

Analysis Dashboard Sessions

The Analysis dashboard enables the creation of charts that can dynamically monitor a number of performance metrics, from entire clusters to specific VMs, as well as the inner workings of AOS components. PC 2020.8 introduces the concept of Sessions to the Analysis dashboard to simplify troubleshooting, particularly for large environments with multiple administrators. Administrators can create Sessions and add charts and metrics for troubleshooting specific issues, and the list of Sessions are listed on the new Sessions dashboard.

VM Exclusion Policies

Prism uses machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies in VM performance and utilization and to identify VMs that are inefficiently sized or configured, bringing potential problems to the attention of administrators quickly and automatically. PC 2020.8 introduces a new Operations Policy dashboard from which you can apply an exclusion policy to VMs that you do not want to be evaluated for anomaly detection or inefficiency measurement. This enables administrators to “override the AI” for applications that have been sized deliberately or for services that are known to perform in ways that might appear anomalous without deeper insight into their inner workings.

SQL Server Visibility

PC 2020.8 includes a new Monitoring Integrations dashboard from which you can collect application metrics for applications with integration into Prism, extending Prism capabilities beyond infrastructure into application monitoring. Microsoft SQL Server is the first application integrated into the Monitoring Integrations dashboard, with more to come in future releases. This additional visibility into database queries and metrics, when combined with Prism’s behavior learning and anomaly detection, can greatly reduce the root cause analysis time for service issues.

Figure 2 - SQL Server Visibility

Application Discovery Support

PC 2020.8 includes a new Application Discovery dashboard from which you can search selected clusters for existing applications, collect and analyze the discovered application data, and publish that data to an internal database. The database can be accessed through the Prism API. The agentless discovery allows real-time discovery of applications, providing a better understanding of the full stack of applications running within your infrastructure.

Figure 3 -  Application Discovery in Prism Ultimate

Cost Management

PC 2020.8 brings cost governance capabilities of Nutanix Beam to PC, allowing you to manage and analyze the cost of your Nutanix environment from within Prism. Now Prism users have out-of-the-box visibility to unit VM cost and can use chargeback reports for business units and costs centers. With automated budget alerts and algorithmic projections, it has never been easier to track infrastructure spend. 

Prism License Tier Breakdown

 
STARTER
PRO
ULTIMATE
 
HCI Management
Infrastructure AIOps
IT Service AIOps
Nutanix HCI Management
Infrastructure management      
Monitoring & troubleshooting      
Enterprise AuthN + RBAC      
1-click upgrades via LCM      
Comprehensive search      
Operational Insights
Customizable dashboard      
Reporting      
Application discovery​ (new)      
Automated Optimization
Capacity forecast      
VM Inefficiency detection and right-sizing      
Just-in-time planning      
Proactive Remediation
Anomaly detection      
Advanced troubleshooting      
Monitoring for non-AOS virtual infrastructure​ (new)      
Application monitoring (*)​ (new)​      
Smart Automation
Low-code/no-code operations automation      
Cost Management for Nutanix (**)​
Cost metering for resources​ (new)       
Budgeting and chargeback​ (new)      
Content Pack
SQL Server monitoring​ (new)     Included

4 – Prism Licensing Tiers

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