US Federal agencies enter calendar 2012 with decreasing budgets and an increasing push to adopt cloud technologies. I was honored to spend the last several years helping to implement cost-saving technologies, such as virtualization, at various Federal agencies, including both CONUS and OCONUS. When I was first introduced to the Nutanix converged virtualization appliance (CVA), I felt it would be revolutionary for Federal datacenters, and wrote about my views in this blog post.
For those familiar with virtualization, Nutanix’s 2U CVA has four ESX hosts, each with their own FusionIO card, SATA SSD, and SATA spinning disks. The Nutanix CVA has the horsepower to support hundreds of virtual machine instances, whether server or virtual desktop based. For those whose support Tactical installations where a reduced footprint is of paramount importance, the Nutanix 2U appliance is a strong candidate. When considering mobile solutions, solutions on tactical vehicles, solutions dropped from planes, or fly-away kits, the reduction in weight, power, and size that Nutanix offers is compelling.
Not every agency’s mission is to support these type of deployments, however, but the lessons and requirements from the Tactical space are still relevant in the largest of Federal datacenters. For those with a large Network Enterprise Center (NEC), space, power, and cooling are still important. While the parameters may be less stringent than deployed stacks, every square foot that is occupied has a cost associated with it. Datacenters, no matter how large, have a finite amount of power capacity. I recall being engaged at an agency several years ago where physical servers had to be powered off before new ones could be powered on.
How do you avoid or prolong such a scenario? High-density virtualization. High density virtualization is likely impossible in the legacy server virtualization designs, where rackmount servers or large blade chassis are connected to multi-U switch solutions which then connect to half or full rack storage arrays. While these legacy building blocks do indeed offer the technical requirements for virtualization, they do not offer an efficient model of scale. Scaling linearly in a 2U appliance is far more efficient than disproportional scale in 12-42U building blocks from disparate manufacturers.
On-premise cloud computing is another big driver this year, as Federal datacenters consolidate and work to deliver increased levels of self-service and automation. With multi-tenant licensing considerations to be had, it’s extremely important that the underlying building blocks for Federal on-prem clouds are as small and cost effective as possible. I believe this is another area in which Nutanix’s 2U converged virtualization appliance will be a strong fit, as it’s architecture is modeled after some of the largest names in cloud computing, like Google and Facebook.
I’m excited to work with the Federal community this year as they further their adoption of virtualization, VDI, on-prem cloud computing, hadoop, and mobile application management. All of these initiatives will require a cost effective model of scale for the underlying compute and storage; all of these initiatives will also help further the mission of their respective agencies. The budgetary concerns of this Federal fiscal year means that technologies must provide high value and a low cost of entry; legacy low-density and high-cost infrastructure will be a thing of the past.