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VM Deployment at Enterprise Cloud Speed: Simplified Management and Silent Installation for Nutanix Guest Tools

By Mike McGhee

Nutanix Guest Tools (NGT) are a set of software features installed within virtual machines for the purpose of enabling advanced functionality. Some of the features enabled by NGT include application consistent snapshots, self service restore of snapshot data, and virtual machine mobility between hypervisors with the Nutanix Application Mobility Fabric.

The functionality driven by NGT is important and powerful but that’s not the reason for this post. Installing and enabling NGT and its features represents either a manual or scripted administrative action, which in large environments can be a frequent operation. At our Phoenix/Scottsdale .NEXT On-Tour event, we announced several planned features for streamlining and simplifying the management of NGT.

Bulk Enablement of NGT

With the 4.7.1 release of Prism Central, you can select multiple virtual machines simultaneously to enable NGT with the AHV hypervisor. This feature greatly simplifies enabling NGT for a large number of virtual machines in existing environments.

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Application Feature Selection

Once NGT is enabled you can choose which features should be exposed to a virtual machine. These features include VSS for application consistent snapshots and self service restore. In current software versions, managing the state of these applications requires the use of a command line interface. We are planning to add feature control directly into the Prism interface. This can be used to enable or disable NGT, control the mount state of the NGT ISO, and control which applications can be used by the guest operating system. This combination of granular feature selection and bulk control gives you the best of both worlds and is a practical example of what it means to run your IT infrastructure at enterprise cloud speed.

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Unattended Installations

After enabling NGT and mounting the ISO, you will then need to install NGT within the guest operating system. Current installation procedures for NGT in Windows operating systems require an administrator would have to click through several steps to complete the installation wizard. The installation is straightforward, but requires human intervention. To improve this process, we are planning to add in a future release the ability to silently install NGT. The installation is streamlined not only from a GUI wizard perspective, but command line processes can take advantage of a silent install option which benefits environments looking to perform unattended installations.

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Ensuring Continuous Value

Delivering a product that delights users takes steady and unwavering focus on the details. On the surface, these features might appear to be lightweight in code complexity. However, focusing on the details and improving NGT has a significant impact in the overall experience. Nutanix is committed to adding new features with every release, but for you to truly benefit from these features, we must make them easy to consume. We believe continuous innovation coupled with continuous consumption are core principles for deriving value from your Enterprise Cloud. Please continue the conversation on the Nutanix Next Community and let us know what you think.