Finding an Efficient Way to Hybrid Multicloud

An expert in validating cloud technology performance, who evaluated Nutanix Clusters, offers clues to discovering more economical operations of cloud environments.

By Tom Mangan

By Tom Mangan February 10, 2022

Is there any hope for efficiency in the cloud? Tony Palmer says yes…it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.

Palmer is a principal validation analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group [esg-global.com] (ESG, a division of TechTarget), a technology consulting group based in Newton, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb. One of ESG’s specialties is validating the effectiveness of popular enterprise technologies and publishing in-depth reports on the company’s findings.

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“A technical validation has elements of testing to see whether a product or solution works as advertised,” Palmer said in an interview with The Forecast by Nutanix.

Palmer noted that validation goes beyond documenting performance of hardware and software: It must demonstrate the business value of a technology solution.

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Validating the business case for the cloud has become a popular pastime of technology analysts. There’s no question that the cloud delivers agility, speed and scale. But what about cloud efficiency? That’s a much taller obstacle because cloud costs typically rise in tandem with cloud consumption.

This quandary inspired an influential article published by Andreesen-Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, in 2021. The article noted that as enterprise cloud deployments expand, businesses’ costs explode, shaving billions off their market capitalization and diverting money that might be better spent on more pressing concerns like expanding market share or transforming the customer experience.

As a validator of technology products — particularly cloud offerings — Palmer has a front-row seat in businesses’ embrace of cloud technologies. 

“Maturation is rapidly accelerating,” he said. “It's a viable place for your business to live.”

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ESG’s market research supports this thesis. Nine out of 10 companies ESG surveyed were digitally transforming their businesses. 

“Eighty percent said they have applications and workloads that are strong candidates to move to the public cloud over the next five years,” Palmer added.

Many of these cloud adopters will face sticker shock when the full cost of renting space in the cloud at scale becomes clear. Moreover, they’ll soon discover the complications of repatriating workloads to on-prem data centers, even if on-prem costs less.

At the same time, they want to preserve the speed-and-scale advantages of the cloud. The savvy response is to optimize — scanning for efficiencies that make cloud expenses manageable.    

The Economic Advantages of Virtualization and Automation 

One path to cloud efficiency emerged in a technical validation Palmer and co-author Kerry Dolan conducted in 2021. They took a deep dive into the performance of Nutanix Cloud Platform, which uses virtualization, automation and intuitive dashboards to simplify cloud management.

Nutanix pioneered software to emulate the conventional three-tiered data center (compute, storage and networking) with what’s called hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). HCI allows IT admins to spin up a computing environment in a fraction of the time required with previous generations of technology.

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The result: “A business that needs to deploy a new application gets it into production faster,”  Palmer said.

How much faster?

Palmer has studied the process in detail. Once company he analyzed was averaging about 38 person-hours week to deploy a cluster in the cloud. Nutanix’s software slashed that time to about an hour.

“It’s really spectacular,” he added, thanks to automation that removes painstaking manual processes.

Automation also and dramatically reduces the consumption of cloud resources, which is crucial to improving efficiency.

“You're leasing hardware by the minute” in the cloud, Palmer explained. Every reduction in the minutes, hours and days of cloud operations helps companies economize and optimize the management of their cloud environments.

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“We validated significant cost and productivity savings for any sized organization through orchestration and automation of IT resources and operational tasks,” he said. 

“Some of those included up to a 97% faster time to a day-one infrastructure deployment in the cloud — rather than on premises — and up to 96% reduction in IT administrator costs for deployments with clusters on AWS when it was compared to traditional infrastructure in a data center.”

These findings reflected ESG hands-on testing of AWS-based clusters and calculations based on discussions with customers using the software in the field, Palmer said. 

“We tried to be as conservative as we could and only use data we got directly from customers. That's why we can stand behind those numbers.”

What Goes Into a Technical Validation

A quick review of Palmer’s validation of Nutanix tools illustrates the hallmarks of a sophisticated appraisal of cloud-relate technologies. These are the kinds of factors that all companies need to explore when appraising software options, though ESG cautions that these tests are just a starting point because every company has different needs.

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In its Nutanix validation, ESG focused on three primary technology disciplines that crop up often in cloud environments.

Databases

Running databases in the cloud requires high-performance technology infrastructure. ESG assessed Nutanix software on MY-SQL and Oracle databases, measuring data points like input/output per second (IOPS) and transactions per minute (TPM). Test results named the specific hardware and software for each test and described in-depth how the results were tabulated.

ESG also compared how the 2021 version of Nutanix software compared to the 2021 version. A fair assessment of the results was that Nutanix lived up to its promises across all the experiments ESG conducted.

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Big data and analytics. ESG put Nutanix software through its paces with big data/analytics technologies such as data lakes and Splunk SmartStore.

For instance, ESG assessed how well Nutanix tools optimized the query and copying processes in data lakes, which provide a central location for structured and unstructured data that learning algorithms can analyze to cull business insights.

In the Splunk test, ESG measured Nutanix’s ability to scale mixed Splunk workloads, comparing random IOPS, sequential IOPS, random throughput and sequential throughput. They also compared the total cost of ownership of Splunk on bare metal against Splunk SmartStore on Nutanix.

End-User Computing

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology proved critical to companies enabling remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ESG set up experiments to test Nutanix’s VDI solution in two key areas: the linear scalability of a Citrix VDI environment, and a log-on storm of 1,400 virtual desktops.

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The first test measured Nutanix’s VDI technology on a small cluster with users running advanced applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, then ramped up to a much larger environment to ensure performance didn’t lag as the scale expanded. The second test assessed the user performance of more than a thousand people logging in at the same time, which would be common on most workdays.

“Our lab is virtual, so all the testing was done remotely,” running clusters on AWS, Palmer said.  “Anyone can set up exactly the same cluster and run it — and validate almost everything in the report.”

Editor’s note: Download Evaluating Nutanix Clusters for Hybrid Multicloud Environments here.

Tom Mangan is a contributing writer. He is a veteran B2B technology writer and editor, specializing in cloud computing and digital transformation. Contact him on his website or LinkedIn.

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