Cloud & Virtualization

Hyperconvergence: Nutanix and VMware

May 9, 2019

Hyperconvergence: Nutanix and VMware

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Nutanix VS VMware: choose wisely in this hyperconvergent duel

Good stories are always told from the beginning and so this duel between Nutanix and VMware is no exception, we must start from the basic concepts behind these solutions.

Convergence: the beginning of everything

First we need to understand what convergence is, a term that refers to the union of several elements. In the particular case of the IT infrastructure, it is understood as the combination of networks, storage and processing, in the same solution. In this scenario, we will still have to resort to third-party solutions to cover all the key points of a data processing center (DPC).

The next step to convergence is redundancy, hyperconvergence, since it not only encompasses the above-mentioned elements but also goes beyond them, and additionally integrates key CPD solutions, such as monitoring, backup, deduplication, data compression or disaster recovery, among others.

We can divide the concept of convergence into three levels:

  • Tier 1, for solutions where, by opening our rack door, we can visually differentiate network, processing and storage elements.
  • Tier 2, integrates all these elements into a single appliance.
  • Tier 3, an appliance that not only integrates network, processing and storage elements. It also delivers management, backup, migration, deduplication, compression, restoration, and single pane of glass solutions for monitoring our hyper convergent solution (HCI).

You must have noticed that hyper convergence is a worldwide trend including large hardware vendors such as DELL, HP, and IBM, to name a few, as well as the software solutions that make it possible. This debate between Nutanix VS VMware.

The fact that new hardware or software is becoming a global trend is not something that happens overnight. Of course, this is not going to be the exception. If we look back at past technologies, it will be evident how this process of convergence has been raised and a good reference of this is HP BladeSystem, one of the most innovative proposals of 2004 in terms of IT infrastructure.

However, while such solutions offer the possibility of containing more than ten servers where there would usually be four, they still rely on external centralized storage solutions for their operation, which translates into additional devices, cabling and labour.

As we mentioned earlier regarding the evolutionary process of IT solutions, it was expected that, eventually, a single device or appliance would have the capacity to contain all the key elements of a CPD infrastructure. This invites us to evaluate the best hyperconvergent solutions and to discuss between Nutanix VS VMware.

Nutanix VS VMware, under discussion

Let’s keep in mind that the objective of both solutions is to face the deficiencies of the traditional architecture, increasing the efficiency of the available resources, simplifying the management processes by means of pre-configured solutions, which do not require a network storage infrastructure. In other words, both are infrastructure solutions (HCI), which integrate processing, memory, network and storage in the same container or cluster.

A common feature among HCI solutions is the presence of multiple nodes in the same container. These nodes are the ones that will provide our cluster with processing, network, storage and memory capabilities.

Among the highlights of HCI solutions is Software Defined Storage (SDS). This is where our hyperconvergent solution will begin to display its features, taking all the disks present in each node to create a centralized data store.

It is also important to note that this data store is made up of the storage provided by the disks, which are directly connected to each of the nodes and, therefore, there is no need for a centralized storage solution such as a SAN or NAS.

This translates into an increase in the overall performance of our infrastructure by preventing data from having to travel over a network to be manipulated.

Another characteristic element of HCI solutions is the presence of one or more solid-state disks (SSDs), combined with conventional high capacity hard disks (hybrid HCIs) or only SSDs (All-flash HCIs). This gives us the possibility to increase I/O for applications with high traffic volume.

This is possible because, by default, HCI solutions take care of moving data within our SDS based on algorithms that detect what data virtual machines most frequently access. In this way, data that is accessed less frequently is considered “Cold Data”, so it is stored on conventional hard disks, and data that evidences much more frequent use is considered “hot data”, so it is housed on SSDs to ensure optimal performance.

Well, we already know the elements that define a hyperconvergent solution; however, what brings us to this Nutanix VS VMware is to know the different elements of each of these options to decide for one or the other.

VMware vSAN

It is a software-defined storage solution that was introduced in the vSphere kernel, combining multiple node storage drives to create a single distributed data-store, which allows the user to define storage requirements and data availability of virtual machines or a cluster through policies.

Some pros of VMware vSAN would be:

  • Single data store: All the disks of each node are joined and presented to all the hosts that are part of the cluster. Therefore, when adding disks to a node this will increase the capacity of the cluster and the data store.
  • Distributed fault tolerance: It is a concept similar to RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), whose purpose is to tolerate the failure of one or more disks within an array. Distributed fault tolerance, or Distributed RAID, focuses on tolerating the total failure of a node or one of the resources it brings to the cluster.
  • It does not use networked storage services: The storage infrastructure is managed locally between host nodes, which translates into savings by not relying on a network solution that requires infrastructure and skilled labour.
  • Improved platform performance due to increased I/O.
  • Centralized management: Through the vSphere client, so there is no need to train staff in new technologies.
  • Fully integrated: vSAN is part of the vSphere kernel suite, so it is compatible with all its elements and will give us a performance level bonus.

Some cons we can see:

  • Licensing: Unless you already have a VMware-based infrastructure, licensing costs will be a factor to consider; especially if the reason behind the implementation is to lower costs. While vSan is built into vSphere, you will need to purchase specific licensing to use it. This will undoubtedly be a determining factor in this duel between Nutanix and VMware.
  • Investment in storage: It is necessary to incorporate at least one SSD to each node to implement vSAN.
  • Hypervisor: You will only have access to VMware.

Nutanix

It entered the market ten years ago in order to bring the benefits of cloud computing to the masses, offering an operating system for hyper convergent infrastructure, with multiple features oriented to virtualization in a high-performance environment, with data protection, scalability, security, optimization of resources and space.

Nutanix has many advantages over VMware:

  • Unlike other solutions (HCI), Nutanix gives you the ability to choose the hardware and virtualization platform that best suits each scenario.
  • Excellent quality documentation, available online: The Nutanix Bible.
  • Single data store: All the disks of each of the nodes are joined and presented to all the hosts that are part of the cluster, allowing for scalable growth.
  • Distributed fault tolerance: Thanks to integrated high availability solutions and metadata management, you have a highly available infrastructure with minimal effort.
  • It can be monitored from Pandora FMS console thanks to its plugin.
  • Savings: Not relying on a network solution, which requires infrastructure and skilled labor.
  • No additional licensing required; all Acropolis tools, no additional licenses.
  • Nutanix Community Edition: Allows you to use the current infrastructure to install Acropolis OS and test Nutanix.

Nutanix is not perfect; let’s see some cons:

  • The high flexibility it supports at the hardware and hypervisor level can turn against you.
  • Although it is one of the references when talking about Hyper convergence, it does not have the same level of renown as other virtualization solutions.
  • The fact that Nutanix AHV does not have any licensing costs could be interpreted by some as not being a robust enough solution.
  • If you decide to invest in a host sold and certified by Nutanix your entire operation will be tied to a single provider.
  • Conclusions

    It is evident that both are very complete tools, which have the ability to take any (CPD) to the next level, which makes this debate between Nutanix and VMware special.

    So, we should ask ourselves:

    -Does the current operational burden deserve to migrate to a hyper convergent solution?

    -Does the company already have infrastructure deployed over VMware?

    -Based on the current infrastructure, what will be the additional costs of licensing and support?

    -Which solution offers me the best cost-benefit ratio?

    Once these questions are answered, it will be much easier to choose the right solution for each scenario. I hope I’ve helped you clarify questions about hyper convergent solutions and, most importantly, the data needed to choose between Nutanix and VMware.

    Still want to know more about computer systems monitoring? Luckily, you’re in the right place to learn more. In this blog there are dozens of articles that can introduce you to this exciting world. Here you have a link to our homepage: https://blog.pandorafms.org

    Do you want to know better what Pandora FMS can offer you? Find out more by clicking here:
    https://pandorafms.com/

    If you have more than 100 devices to monitor you can contact us through the following form: https://pandorafms.com/contact/

    Also, remember that if your monitoring needs are more limited you have at your disposal the OpenSource version of Pandora FMS. Find more information here: https://pandorafms.org/


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