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Nutanix Files Delivers End-User Computing Without Compromise

By John Williamson

Enterprises turn to end-user computing, and VDI in particular, to secure an array of benefits, including lower administrative overhead, increased employee productivity, and costs savings. Unfortunately, storage problems can all but erase these advantages. File servers store essential profile, user, and departmental data, which means they can make or break an end-user computing (EUC) deployment.

External controller-based network attached storage (NAS) promised to alleviate the pain points associated with file storage, but as an infrastructure silo, it remains encumbered by complexity and inefficiency. Nutanix Files, a fully integrated file server solution, lets you get the most out of your VDI investment, with first rate performance, enterprise-grade availability and resilience, and cloud-like flexibility, ease of use, and scalability.

NAS is not the answer

Despite being one of the most common forms of on-site data storage, NAS is hobbled by numerous technical and administrative challenges, particularly for VDI use cases.  

Management Complexity:

  • Difficult to set up, deploy, and operate.
  • Siloed management that introduces complexity, expense, and risk.
  • Proprietary concepts and tools.

Constant Monitoring:

  • Administrators must continually monitor system performance.
  • Ongoing manual intervention, which is tedious, time-consuming, and error prone.

Inefficient and Expensive:

  • Requires specialized skills and larger teams.
  • Relies on guesswork for planning, longer planning cycles, and larger up-front investments.

File services for the cloud era

Nutanix Files eliminates the NAS silo by consolidating VMs and unstructured data into a single, simpler infrastructure stack. Completely software-defined, it is an integrated part of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud and uses the same underlying scale-out architecture.

Nutanix web-scale design means that administrators no longer need to choose between ease of management and great end-user experience. Unlike traditional file servers that scale poorly due to a single controller and storage array, Nutanix Files is fully-distributed, self-healing, and automatically balanced.

Cloud-like agility and simplicity means that Files deploys in minutes, rather than weeks. VDI administrators get end-to-end control of their deployment, doing away with the frustration and inefficiency of depending on other teams for storage provisioning—no more late nights working with storage admins to resolve end-user support calls.

Prism, the management plane, provides a single pane of glass for monitoring and maintenance, including one-click non-disruptive upgrades and node-additions. Scale Files up or out for Windows environments, all while supporting thousands of connections.

Nutanix Files is ideal for a wide range of general and proprietary EUC solutions, including:

Files provides consistent and scalable performance, as well as the availability and resilience, that each of these functions requires.

One-click performance optimization

End-users cannot afford to waste time waiting for profiles and data to load. Undersized and overwhelmed file servers cause lengthy log-on times and delays in accessing desktop personalization and files. As a scale-out and -up solution, Nutanix Files eliminates these sorts of performance bottlenecks that ruin user experience and impede productivity.

Files monitors the file server virtual machines (FSVM) throughout the session as well, and, when necessary, recommends actions: either rebalance, scale out, or scale up. Rebalancing involves moving connections to a more optimal FSVM. Scale out may involve either instantiating and bringing another FSVM online or simple one-click node addition. Scale up can include hot plugging more memory and CPU into the existing FSVM. Files recommends the action and the administrator need only click to initiate the process.

One-click capacity planning

Prism provides predictive algorithms, “what-if” scenarios, and capacity runway functionality to eliminate guesswork and over-provisioning, allowing you to pay as you grow. For a VDI workload, Prism recommends FSVM configuration based on current and future needs.

Files exports a single namespace

With Files, a single file cluster represents a single distributed namespace.  Every share that you create is a sub-directory, or sub-share, under that global namespace. This functionality provides naming convention path consistency, which translates into simplified discovery, access, and management. This feature is especially valuable for migration in heterogeneous environments with replication.

Tight integration with Active Directory

Files uses industry-standard (rather than proprietary) user controls for Active Directory. Files also integrates with Active Directory when setting soft or hard quotas, allowing admins to easily control storage consumption. Finally, Files supports self-service restore with Windows Previous Versions. Files exports internal snapshots to Previous Versions, allowing end-users to recover their own data without administrator intervention.

Multiple file server clusters can exist on the same Nutanix cluster

This functionality enables multitenancy, allowing, for example, service providers and large enterprises to support multiple clients on the same cluster. Enterprises providing storage as a service to their internal customers get greater security from granular access rights and isolated networks and user directories, while delivering improved up-time and reduced administrative workload. Files also recently improved storage density, with max share or max top-level directory sizes up to 140 TB.

Analytics improves security

Advanced file analytics provide deep insights into how files are being accessed and by whom, providing another layer of security. File Insights helps administrators better understand user activity via auditing, file lineage, and alerts around suspicious activity on user credentials or unusual user access patterns, which may indicate malicious activity such as a virus or ransomware. Files uses machine learning to alert the administrator if patterns fall outside a band of normal behavior.

Rich enterprise storage features

Files enjoys the advantages of enterprise-grade availability and resiliency, asynchronous DR, cross-hypervisor DR, and best-in-class data reduction technologies such as deduplication, erasure coding, and compression. Protect your environment with enterprise-grade backups through a single management plane, while seamlessly backing up data to remote sites with an unlimited number of virtual disk snapshots.

You have better things to do

Nutanix Files means there is no longer any need to choose between management simplicity, security, and reliable performance. EUC administrators get end-to-end control, while built-in machine learning and self-healing free you to improve end-user services instead of wasting countless hours on low-value monitoring and maintenance tasks.

You can learn more about Files and Citrix EUC here, and more about Files in general here. To hear about how some of our customers have used Files as part of their Enterprise Cloud journey, check out these success stories from  Mauritius Union Group and Sheppard Mullin.

Already a Nutanix customer? Then try Nutanix Files on your AOS cluster today with a free TB of files capacity and see for yourself how radically simple and flexible Nutanix Files is.

© 2019 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. Nutanix, the Nutanix logo and the other Nutanix products and features mentioned herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nutanix, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder(s).

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