Creating a Common Experience Across Clouds With Nutanix Clusters on AWS

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Hybrid cloud deployments offer many advantages—but they also require spending time and money managing multiple locations. Often, organizations have a different platform for each location, which typically means completely different processes for each platform. In addition to purchasing extra tools, employees must be trained on various systems. Using multiple tools usually results in lower productivity. Businesses that use multiple cloud providers have even more challenges because of the differences between clouds deployments. For example, API calls are handled differently by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

To overcome these issues, many organizations are now utilizing Nutanix Clusters on AWS (NCA) to create a common way of performing tasks across different clouds and environments. Nutanix’s hyperconverged platform eliminates the need for disparate management between on-premise and cloud, as well between cloud services providers. By putting the Nutanix software on top of the cloud ecosystem, Nutanix handles the heavy lifting—and users do not have to understand the subtle differences between different clouds.

To further explain, I have asked my colleague Derek Raebel, a senior systems engineer at Nutanix, to elaborate. “The point is to have a common management platform across the private cloud vendors you work with and the public cloud vendors you work with. Today that’s AWS; in the next six months Azure will be included in that with more to come. The Nutanix experience stays the same regardless what hardware you’re running on or what cloud you’re running in,” he says.

With its self-healing architecture for clusters running on AWS, the system automatically resolves most issues without user intervention. To implement data resiliency, NCA deploys cluster hosts across as many partitions as AWS exposes for their bare metal instances. Each AWS partition corresponds to a rack in Nutanix ensuring replicas are across AWS failure domains.

Determining the Best Cloud Configuration

By adding in the orchestration automation software Nutanix Calm (Cloud Application Lifecycle Manager), organizations create even more unified processes for their multiple clouds. “Calm acts as an API translator with a construct called Blueprint to draw out what you want your end state to look like, whether that be a LAMP stack or a single server deployment,” Raebel says.

Calm then translates the API to implement the Blueprint in multiple environments, such as Azure, Google or VMWare. Regardless of where you are running your cloud, Nutanix provides the same experience.

By merging on-premise design practices with cloud strategies, you create similar fault-tolerant principals with AWS as your on-premise infrastructure. You have likely already developed fault-tolerant domains for your on-premise infrastructure, such as data center colocation. As you develop a service in AWS, you can use availability zones (i.e., discrete data centers) to make the connectivity highly available across different fault-tolerant regions in the AWS data center. “It’s really the merging of on-prem design practices you can mirror to AWS and its fault-tolerant principles,” Raebel says.

You can also create a cluster on a separate availability zone and mirror between clusters. If the availability zones are in the same region, the low latency allows you to synchronize replication across the clusters in real time.

Providing More Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery

Business continuity is a core element of a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) strategy. Because NCA allows organizations to only pay for the resources used, many Nutanix clients appreciate the total cost of ownership from deploying Nutanix Clusters on AWS for DR. Traditional DR strategies require a significant capital outlay for duplicate production gear as an insurance policy. “Every company should have a DR strategy. If you don’t have a DR strategy, please put one together—and Nutanix Clusters on AWS can be a part of that,” Raebel says.

Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure typically replicates your on-premise configurations, meaning if you used 15 on-premise servers, your cloud infrastructure would likely include approximately 15 servers. The cloud configurations give you the flexibility of reducing your footprint, because you do not have to keep all servers running when cold. Instead, you can configure a three-node cluster. When a disaster is declared, you can turn on the required capacity. “When the disaster is over, you can spin it down. The organization’s only cost incurred is from what was running in the cloud during the period you were running there,” he explains.

With an on-premise cold DR configuration solution, the order, delivery and installation of new servers can take weeks in a best-case scenario—and often much longer when attempting to make your cold DR solution all hot and active. With NCA, you simply  spin up additional nodes in Nutanix Clusters Portal, then send the replication data to the services so you can quickly get your business back up and running in a matter of hours. IDC cites that an hour of downtime can cost a large organization upwards of $100,000—so a timely DR solution can result in huge savings.

Creating Additional Layers of Protection

By using Nutanix Flow, a software-defined virtual network security product, you can secure your VMs with micro segmentation for both on-premise and in NCA.

Instead of using two different tools and strategies for on-premise and cloud, you can use a common platform and process regardless of your cloud provider and infrastructure.

If your servers are attacked by ransomware, Flow quickly quarantines the VM on the network to prevent malicious code from spreading through your network and other trusted VMs. You can then use forensic tools to investigate the VM and repair damage before getting the VM back on the network.

The ability to adapt quickly is invaluable to any organization, and an IT infrastructure that can flex accordingly is critical. By using NCA, organizations create the continuity and flexibility needed in today’s environment. And because you only pay for services used, organizations save money while providing a superior experience for users.

Nutanix Continuity and Flexibility

The ability to adapt quickly is invaluable to any organization, and an IT infrastructure that can flex accordingly is critical. NCA allows organizations to create the continuity and flexibility needed in today’s environment. And because you only pay for services used, organizations save money while providing a superior experience for users.

Evolving Solutions Author:
Jim Pross
Systems & Storage Consultant

What’s New for Cloud

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According to Forrester Research, the global public cloud market will hit $178 billion in 2018, up from $146 billion in 2017. Forrester also predicts that enterprise public cloud adoption will be above 50% for the first time. Sounds like a busy year!  Today let’s look at an article by Clint Boulton on CIO that reviews the trends driving this cloud growth and the current landscape for CIOs and IT leaders.

Trends driving cloud growth

Cloud computing has become essential for enterprise modernization and agility.  Cloud computing is helping more and more organizations improve systems and response times.  The use of a multi-cloud strategy has developed and is growing.  Mr. Boulton points out in his article that CIOs are “hedging their bets” more often and placing applications in more than just one cloud service provider. Plus, industry leaders expect an increased focus on disaster recovery both on-premise and in the cloud.  This focus will fuel more cloud use to ensure data and application safety.

Current cloud landscape

So what are CIOs and IT leaders facing as cloud growth continues?  With utilizing a multi-cloud strategy being a key growth driver a number of complications arise. First, cost containment and management. Multi-cloud use can also add to the complexity of managing costs and vendors.  IT leaders in 2018 will be honing in their management skills.  IT leaders also need to ensure they have comprehensive security practices in place to ensure that data and applications are secure where ever they reside and that there are clear lines drawn between who does what between IT and vendors. Finally, Mr. Boulton points out that more cloud use is also creating a culture change in IT. With increased speed and agility comes the need to learn new skills and set in place new processes.

Where is your organization at in your cloud journey?  What trends are you experiencing?  Our team can help you explore and implement a multi-cloud strategy. Contact us today.