Kathy Gibson reports – Nutanix has repurposed the acronym HCI.

To the rest of the world the letters stand for hyperconverged infrastructure, but to Nutanix they will henceforth describe hybrid cloud infrastructure instead.

Dheeraj Pandey, outgoing CEO of Nutanix, today disclosed that the reasoning is simple: whereas hyperconverged infrastructure refers to on-premise systems, new technology takes convergence to a new level and into the cloud – hence hybrid cloud infrastructure.

“Instead of thinking about siloes of cloud applications, we have to bring them together for a singular experience – not just the edge and the private core, but the public cloud as well.

“This is the journey for the next few years: to converge all the clouds.”

HCI is the process of virtualising the data centre, the development environment (DevOps) and the desktop – and having them all running as a service.

“What Nutanix means by consolidation is to virtualise everything. This creates true mobility – not just app mobility but data centre mobility.”

Virtualisation and consolidation has happened in the infrastructure, he says. “In the next five years, we will see data centre consolidation. But where we think it needs to go is cloud consolidation.

“HCI is the trifecta of run better, run faster, run anywhere,” he says.

HCI is beyond hyperconvergence. It is about building apps faster, simpler. It is about writing apps once and deploying them anywhere.

Helping to make this goal a reality, Nutanix today announces that its HCI will be available on Microsoft Azure.

“This means we will be running all of our software inside Azure; and now we have it running inside two of the hyperscalers,” Pandey says.

The two companies will word together to fuse on on-premise and off-premise infrastructure, he adds.

The partnership will enable both companies to deliver a hybrid solution with seamless application, data, and license mobility as well as unified management across on-premises and Azure environments, using Nutanix Clusters on Azure.

As a result of the partnership, Nutanix and Microsoft will deliver:

* Nutanix Clusters on Azure: As part of this collaboration, both companies will focus on extending Nutanix hybrid cloud infrastructure to Azure. The collaboration will include the development of Nutanix-ready nodes on Azure to support Nutanix Clusters and services. Customers running workloads on Nutanix Clusters on Azure will benefit from Azure Hybrid Benefit as well as extended security updates to improve cost, security, and efficiency. They will also be able to deploy and manage Azure instances from Nutanix’s management interface. This will deliver a consistent experience, tooling, and operational practices. Most importantly, it will enable customers to run hybrid workloads seamlessly across private and public clouds without needing to rearchitect their applications. This solution aims to provide the flexibility of choosing the right cloud for each workload, without the operational and technical challenges of managing multiple environments, potentially resulting in significant cost savings to the customer.

* Seamless procurement and support: Microsoft and Nutanix will collaborate to offer customers seamless sales and support experiences. Microsoft Azure customers will be able to use their existing Azure credits, as part of Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC), to purchase Nutanix software; in turn, Nutanix customers will be able to port their existing term licenses to Nutanix Clusters on Azure or get on-demand consumption of Nutanix software through the Azure Marketplace, enabling frictionless movement between private and public clouds within Azure. Additionally, to deliver a truly end-to-end hybrid experience to customers, Nutanix and Microsoft Azure will partner to provide customer support.

* Integration with Azure Arc: Nutanix and Microsoft will also enable managing servers, containers, and data services on Nutanix HCI, on-premises or in Azure, through the Azure Arc control plane. This integration will allow customers to extend key Azure services to their Nutanix environment, including running Azure Arc servers, Azure Arc containers, and Azure Arc data services, adopting Azure cloud practices on-premises, and extending Azure security anywhere.

“There is tremendous excitement in fusing the experience of on-premise and off-premise,” Pandey says.

By signing up Azure, Nutanix is able to prove the concept of hybrid cloud infrastructure, he points out.

“In the coming months, you will see us do the same with others.

“With two hyperscaler partners, we show that we can leverage our software across all clouds; and with the third and fourth we prove it further.

“What Java did for application, I thing we can do for cloud with our software portfolio. You no longer have to think about writing for a particular hyperscaler, but can write once and run on many.”

Driving the adoption of HCI is a concept Nutanix is known for: one-click simplicity. “We did one-click simplicity on the private cloud; now, with collaboration, we offer a one-click hybrid cloud experience.”

Automation is a big part of this, and already forms a big part of Nutanix’s software offerings.

“For us, the key in automation is simplicity, seamlessness and security – these are the three legs of the invisible computing framework. And you have to automate across the stack.

“The as a service concept pushes the envelope for developers: you can’t have to write a lot of code in order to automate. So out automation initiative, CALM, offers a drag-and-drop visual interface that lets any IT operation be an autaomtion expert.”

Thanks to automation, many more applications are now viable as services, Pandey adds. “Business continuity, disaster recovery multi-cloud monitoring – you have to do these as a service.

“With a service you have to automate more, monitor more and have more security – you have got to do more for the customers. And this automation must truly be one click.”


Software enhancements

Nutanix has announced some major new capabilities in its HCI software, delivering up to 50% faster performance, native virtual networking to simplify multicloud deployments, end-to-end security monitoring to support a Zero-Trust strategy, and expanded automation and budgeting capabilities for cloud resources.

Nutanix has advanced its HCI architecture to exploit the latest in storage technologies, including NVMe based SSDs and Intel Optane SSDs.

The resulting lower latency will deliver up to 50% faster performance for I/O intensive workloads, such as large databases and large-scale healthcare applications. The advancements also improve VM density to lower the overall total cost of ownership (TCO) for all applications.

The company’s new Blockstore technology self-manages storage with significantly greater efficiency than traditional file systems.

In addition, Nutanix HCI software adds support for Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK), currently available to customers as a technology preview, an open source library developed by Intel that enables applications to access NVMe capacity directly, avoiding any operating system or kernel-level overhead to drive even faster workload performance.

Together, Blockstore and SPDK reinforce the benefits of Nutanix’s software-defined architecture, enabling continuous advancements in both performance and resiliency.

The company has also announced Flow Security Central, a centralised SaaS-based management plane delivering compliance monitoring, network visibility, and security operations across both Nutanix-powered private clouds and public cloud environments.

Central provides customers with a hub for their security operations so they can easily assess the overall security posture of their Nutanix deployments, generate detailed recommendations to bring environments into compliance, and provide the network visibility and context needed to secure cloud networks and applications.

In addition to Security Central, Nutanix also announced new security capabilities, currently under development, to help customers strengthen their Zero-Trust strategy.

These include extensions to Nutanix’s native key manager and data encryption to deliver a simplified and secure environment for edge and ROBO deployments; AHV support for Microsoft’s Virtualisation-based Security (VBS) and Credential Guard that helps protect Windows VDI desktops against sophisticated memory attacks.

Lastly, the company announced new security certifications, including updated FIPS 140-2 certificates, the government’s acceptance of all Common Criteria evaluation work, as well as the completion of testing for a listing on the DoDIN Approved Products List (APL).

Meanwhile, new virtual networking capabilities in Nutanix Flow are under development. Based on VPC (virtual private cloud) constructs used by major public cloud providers, Flow Networking will simplify the tasks of creating, isolating, and managing software-defined networks that connect applications running in private data centres and in public cloud environments, significantly simplifying networking for hybrid and multicloud deployments.

Integrated with the company’s AHV virtualization, it will provide customers with expanded options to connect their multiple clouds, incorporate advanced networking features, and support DevOps teams through agile networking that facilitates rapid and automated provisioning of new applications into multiple environments.

Nutanix also announced enhanced infrastructure operations management to better serve IT teams and application developers.

Prism Ultimate, a new edition to Prism, adds advanced application insights and automation for troubleshooting application-related infrastructure bottlenecks. It also offers visibility of cloud IT resource consumption for targeted IT cost reductions and more accurate budgeting.

Additionally, Nutanix Prism can monitor non-Nutanix environments, including popular virtualization stacks, giving Nutanix customers a single pane of glass for their entire infrastructure, including legacy infrastructure environments.