We just released the 5.1 version of our AOS software last friday, packed with several goodies that you will love. Like past releases, 5.1 includes innovation across the entire stack, further expanding on the choice and simplicity that customers have come to love with their Nutanix deployments.
Let’s go through each of these in detail.
Core Storage Stack
In addition to several performance and stability enhancements, the following are some of the big ticket items in the 5.1 release in the core storage stack.
All flash and Hybrid nodes in the same cluster: As more and more enterprises are deploying business critical applications on Nutanix Enterprise Clouds (with over 50% of new workloads falling in this category), customers want an option to add just performance to their clusters by increasing the size of their SSD tier. They can now accomplish this by just adding an all-flash node to an existing hybrid cluster and the new SSDs are seamlessly added to existing storage containers.
Additionally, as customers move to an all-flash only world, instead of doing forklift migrations from hybrid systems to all-flash systems, they can add all-flash nodes to existing clusters and retire their older hybrid gear.
This capability helps with the consolidation of workloads within the datacenter further – including the following:
- Tier 1 virtualized applications including Oracle databases and applications, SAP Business suite and more,
- Non-virtualized and virtualized enterprise applications workloads such as Oracle databases and IBM DB2 running elsewhere that need a lot of storage performance,
- Archives and user home directories that need a lot of storage, and
- VDI that requires a good balance of both can all sit on the same cluster.
With 5.1 our customers can add just storage, compute + hybrid storage or all-flash storage.
Capacity Optimization Enhancements: While “under the hood”, we have made a couple of important enhancements to both compression and erasure coding in this release. Post-process compression is turned-on by default for hybrid systems as well in the 5.1 release for new storage containers. As you may be aware, with 5.0 we enabled this on all-flash systems. Additionally, the erasure coding algorithm is more intelligent in 5.1; where every time a node gets added, new EC strips or existing EC strips on writes will automatically take advantage of the new nodes. This functionality improves capacity utilization across while still maintaining the same protection levels as the cluster grows and shrinks. Related to this, Prism now provides a consolidated view into capacity savings as a result of compression, deduplication, erasure coding and more.
Docker Integration in Nutanix Self-Service Portal through Acropolis Container Services
With the 5.0 release, we introduced support for persistent storage for Docker containers using Acropolis Container Services. In 5.1, ACS is significantly enhanced with integration into Nutanix Self-Service Portal. Admins can expose Docker containers and virtual images to their end-users through the Nutanix Self-Service Portal. End-users can deploy docker images just the way they would deploy virtual machines, without having to worry about any of the complexity underneath. Deployment of Docker hosts, managing them, load balancing these workloads across different container hosts etc. are all automated in the backend without any administrator intervention.
AHV – AHV has a couple of important updates with the 5.1 release.
- Hot-add of memory and CPU was introduced in 5.0 in tech preview. This capability is now generally available and is production ready.
- AHV also supports GPU pass-through. Virtual desktops that are graphics intensive including those used for Computer aided design and manufacturing can now take advantage of GPUs by directly talking to them from VMs.
We announced support for XenServer late last year and this capability has been available in Tech Preview till now. With the 5.1 release, this capability is generally available and customers can run their production workloads on XS. With support for XenServer 7.1, Citrix workloads such as XenApp, XenDesktop, NetScaler VPX, and ShareFile can get the best experience on Nutanix while still standardizing on the Citrix stack. This is ideal for XenDesktop deployments needing vGPU support or leveraging PVS for provisioning.
One-Click Centralized Upgrades – With the 5.1 release, you can now manage non-disruptive upgrades for multiple clusters across multiple sites, all from Prism Central. Non-disruptive One-Click upgrades has been a core ingredient of our story, enabling customers to take advantage of the latest software innovation without any planned downtime or maintenance windows. For customers who have multiple clusters or remote and branch office sites, managing the entire upgrade process centrally is important. AOS 5.1 allows customers to:
- Upgrade one or more clusters centrally
- Perform rolling upgrades. Clusters can be upgraded one after the other or all at once.
For service providers who manage multiple tenant clusters, enterprises with multiple sites or retail / remote and branch deployments, this capability will take management simplicity to whole a new level.
User-defined Alerts – In addition to existing Prism VM/infrastructure monitoring, customers also see a need to customize and see only the alerts they want and care for. As an example, customers may want to monitor certain VMs and specific characteristics within those VMs (show CPU and memory usage when latency is over 5 ms). Prism now enables customization of alerting so that based on user-defined thresholds specific alerts are shown or automatically resolved.
This is powered by the same machine learning Nutanix X-fit algorithm that capacity planning, intelligent placement of VMs use and is an important step for us in the move to complete machine intelligence-driven datacenter monitoring and operations.
Prism also has a couple of other important updates with this release
- Started in 5.0 release, Prism was made available in 2 localized languages (Simplified Chinese, Japanese) in addition to English. In 5.1, Prism extends its support of internationalization with 15 more regional settings of date and number formats.
- Prism Central, the multi-site/multi-cluster management solution which we’ve discussed earlier in the blog, can now be installed from Prism Element with a single-click.
Other important updates:
- Acropolis File Services (AFS), the native file storage solution from Nutanix, now supports Apple Mac clients (v10.10, 10.11, 10.12)
- In addition to this, there are also several enhancements to file server snapshots around retention policies and self-service recovery. There will be detailed blogs around this soon.
- Acropolis Block Services, the capability that enables Nutanix to expose storage to non-natively run applications now has more supported client operating systems. Solaris 11 and RHEL 6.8 clients are now officially supported. Additionally, ABS CHAP and Multipathing in now certified by Oracle for Oracle VM 3.4.
- We are also hardening the admin password requirements to meet the common criteria security guidelines, making your Nutanix clusters even more secure. As a part of this, clusters upgraded to 5.1, will require a one-time password change.
As we march past 5,350 customers across the globe and tens of thousands of Nutanix powered nodes running different kinds of workloads, we have continued to be razor focused on innovation. But that is only half the problem solved – till you use these new capabilities in your environments and provide us feedback, we will never get better. We encourage you to upgrade to 5.1 today.
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