Nutanix has recently published a Best Practice Guide for Mictosoft Exchange on VMware vSphere and Josh Odgers explains some of it’s contents and benefits of Exchange on Nutanix in his blog article here. If you are interested in virtualizing Exchange, and/or using Nutanix, you might want to get hold of the guide and have a read through it. It explains how to simply set up Exchange on Nutanix, the benefits of it, how it compares to a traditional physical JBOD approach and much more. The paper introduces the capability of running Exchange on the Nutanix NX-8150 nodes, which have been specially designed to run large applications, such as Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle and SAP. This is the node type Josh Odgers and I used as part of a design capable of hosting 1.4 million Exchange 2013 Mailboxes, which demonstrates the building block architecture of Nutanix and the ability to scale to meet requirements for large environments. Let’s take a look at that design at a high level.
Nutanix is synonymous with Web Scale Converged Infrastructure, which brings a simpler, easier and much faster model for deploying virtual infrastructure from small scale, to any scale. Web Scale is really about standardized hardware, simplified systems and operations that are designed to be always on, resilient to failure, non-disruptively upgraded and maintained. This article will give you a real world example from one of Nutanix larger customers that recently deployed a fairly large number of new Nutanix systems and all the VM’s they needed in a very short space of time. In this case the customer deployed 240 Nutanix nodes (in groups of up to 32 hosts per cluster) on VMware vSphere, and 5000 VM’s in just over 2 days. So what does this look like? Take a look at this tweet that was sent out, including photo’s of the customers datacenter.
I’ve recently been working with one of our large customers that has been virtualizing SQL Server and Oracle on Nutanix 6060 nodes. I thought others might like to know the sorts of enterprise scale business critical workloads that are being run on Nutanix. This particular customer still has a lot of room for growth in the environment, and like all Nutanix customers gets to benefit from non-disruptive upgrades and performance enhancements with each release. They are also by no means at the limits of the capability of the platform, but this is a good example of what can be done for enterprise applications on Nutanix Web Scale Converged Infrastructure, from a real customer that has done it.
If you thought Ebola was deadly to humans wait till you get a load of the latest security issue impacting the world wide web and most everything connected to it including potentially your phone, lights, servers and the list goes on (excluding Windows systems). If Heart Bleed wasn’t bad enough at the start of the year the new Shell Shock bug certainly is. It is what I would term the Mother of All Bugs (MOAB). It impacts almost all Unix, Linux and Mac systems and allows a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code and potentially steal your data, credit cards and other information. So how serious is this? Well the NIST CVE Alert Rating on this is a 10 for severity, and a low for complexity to exploit (read my 7yr old could exploit this bug). So basically the worst possible kind. Oh, but wait, there’s more…
As I type this I’m flying 36,000 feet above Australia on my way to Singapore. It’s great now that Singapore Airlines has Wifi on their flights from New Zealand. I’m connected into my virtual desktop back in Auckland and have some performance tests running on my Nutanix 3450 system, using Oracle RAC. The same system that also happens to host my virtual desktop and all the supporting VM’s. But is my desktop session performance impacted while I’m running a high performance Oracle RAC database test? No. No longer is it necessary to have completely separate silos of resources to support different performance requirements in a virtualized environment. This is the same system that just days ago I upgraded the storage controller firmware and system firmware with a single click, without any downtime at all, without a reboot, without even having to migrate a single virtual machine. This is a new way of operating, a much simpler way, for a new always on world. This is what we at Nutanix call Web-Scale. This new way is even suitable for business critical enterprise applications, such as Oracle databases, even Oracle RAC, which I have been very successful virtualizing for a long time and at large scale. This is a much easier way to implement, manage and run the applications you need to support without compromising SLA’s, functionality, or performance. Now I’ll share with you a demonstration of this capability in action and also some of the best practices, along with where to get the complete best practices guide.
I had heard the murmurs through the ether that something might be up. But it was at that time an unsubstantiated rumour. I couldn’t really believe that a tier 1 storage company would have an array that involved complete data migration / destruction and disruption in order to do a software/firmware upgrade between firmware versions. This isn’t the SDDC you’re looking for. I didn’t see the point in slinging mud for something that may be untrue, or be corrected in time for a GA release (Customers are still hoping). Everyone who’s been in the IT game for long enough knows that things do go wrong from time to time, despite the best efforts of everyone, but planned data destruction for an upgrade is kinda hard to take in this day and age. This is certainly not the always on, non-disruptive upgrades that we’ve all gotten used to, at least some of us. It appears however that the rumours are true and they’ve been reported by Andrew Dauncey – The Odd Angry Shot XtremIO Gotcha, Chad Sakac – Virtual Geek on Disruptive Upgrade (transparency on this issue is good), El Reg – No Biggie: EMC XtremIO Firmware Upgrade Will Wipe Data, and IT News – Extreme upgrade pain for XtremIO Customers. To upgrade XtremIO from 2.4 line of code to 3.0 will involve removing all of the data and putting it back after the upgrade completes. That’s right, anything left on the array during the upgrade, will in effect be lost. Not to mention the required downtime. What’s my take?
Although my Monster VM panel was in the top 10 sessions of VMworld 2013 and we did a Monster VM and Business Critical Apps panel for TAM day this year neither session will be included at VMworld in the USA or Europe. But not to worry. There is plenty of great content at VMworld for everyone to enjoy and I’ll be there to talk about Monster VM’s on vSphere as always, but mostly at the Nutanix Booth #1535. This doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the Monster VM goodness though, you can grab it all online right now, for free, thanks to VMware opening up the session catalog to some great sessions online through VMworld TV. So below I include two great panel discussions from VMworld 2013 that you can review now, and get a better understanding of how to virtualize critical apps and Monster VM’s.
The great thing about working for a company that is in the business of making software defined datacenter a reality (Nutanix) is that whenever we make a software improvement every existing customer benefits. They get all the software benefits even without changing hardware. This often includes things like performance improvements, but it also includes things such as manageability improvements and also support improvements. Let’s briefly cover some of the great enhancements to one click upgrade, and the support user experience of the revamped Nutanix customer support portal that was released tonight.
As part of the development of Virtualizing SQL Server with VMware: Doing IT Right (VMware Press), which I co-authored with Michael Corey and Jeff Szastak, I needed to provide guidance around virtual networking. To do this I figured it would be a good idea to do some performance testing of various different virtual network adapters in VMware vSphere 5.5, as there wasn’t much in the way of performance data around. In all I would have performed approximately 600 individual test runs. All of the important details and much more (including tuning advice to get optimal performance) can be found in the book. But I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights of the results.
As more and more companies start to look at hyperconverged, web scale (such as Nutanix – where I work) or just converged solutions for your vitualization platform there is a need to make sure you know what your looking at and go in eyes wide open. There are a number of different aspects to evaluate, none of the different options are the same. There are no right or wrong answers, as many different solutions may meet your requirements, or be best suited to your requirements. The idea behind this article is to give you a list of questions to consider and to ask any potential vendor. This list is designed to be vendor neutral, and there are really no right or wrong answers, it’s just so you understand what you’re getting for some important aspects, based on my experience.