Firstly thank you to all of the 2,587 attendees that made the trip to Las Vegas for the second annual Nutanix .Next Conference. It was a sold out event and was great to meet a lot of new customers and partners and catch up with some familiar faces from last year. This year my team and I helped put together some of the demos for the day 1 general session, specifically for Oracle and SQL Server on an All Flash Lenovo HX Cluster, in addition to presenting a few of the breakout sessions. There was a clear progression of Nutanix not only being good at VDI, but being great for all virtual workloads, including large SQL Server databases, and now with Acropolis Block Services (Based on iSCSI) being able to support any workloads that for some reason need to remain physical. There is also a clear trend towards all flash systems, and Nutanix announced that almost all platforms have a configuration option for all flash. I explain why Nutanix has some unique benefits with all flash configurations in Your Network Is Too Slow For Flash And What To Do About It. This article takes a look at some of the highlights from the conference specifically around business and mission critical applications, large databases, and all flash solutions.
This year I had the pleasure of presenting a deep dive databases on Nutanix break out along with Leopoldo Salgado, Director IT Infrastructure from Kellogg. Kellogg runs a lot of different workloads on Nutanix, including Oracle and SAP. Thank you to all those that attended and filled in the survey. It was one of the top 5 break outs of the conference. I was also lucky enough to co-present All Flash, All Apps on Nutanix with Tim Isaacs, Sr Director of Product Management and Chris Cate, CIO of ValPak. This session also made it into the top 10 most highly rated.
For the Business Critical Apps – SQL Server and physical Oracle RAC components of the the day 1 general session we had a cluster of 6 x Lenovo HX All Flash Appliances running Nutanix AHV, and 2 x physical Lenovo 3850-X6 systems, running Oracle Linux 7. This is in addition to the 100 Citrix XenDesktop’s running on the same cluster while it was under load, and one of those Citrix desktops was used for the keynote demo itself. The image below shows the architecture and setup for this part of the keynote.
As luck would have it this was the 13th time we’d run through the demo for the keynote and it turned out to be lucky number 13 as everything went flawlessly. The cluster was under heavy load of approximately 150K IOPS with a mix of the VDI Desktops, SQL Server VM’s running batch jobs and the Oracle RAC environment running a transactional workload. Even though databases generally don’t reduce well with data reduction features in this environment we saw approximately 3:1 data reduction, excluding any smart clones and data avoidance. The image below depicts one of the earlier trial runs for the demo.
Even with all of this load the cluster performed well, the latency was low, and the end user desktops were very responsive. The demo infrastructure was hosted by Lenovo in their labs in Durham, North Carolina. There were a number of us connected into desktops on this infrastructure during the demo to monitor the systems as it progressed. For those interested in watching the video from this demo of the day 1 keynote it starts just on the hour mark and I have included a link to the YouTube video below.
One of the key reasons why we didn’t suffer noisy neighbor problems and why the desktops, SQL and Oracle Databases could coexist on the same cluster is due to the way Nutanix uses data locality to try and ensure reads are accessed locally to where the VM’s exist. This helps reduce network saturation that could otherwise occur on all flash systems, leaving more network capacity for real end user workloads. When you compare the various different flash technologies and their potential impact on network utilization it becomes obvious that the only way to future proof your architecture is with a system that has data locality as part of it’s core. The image below compares different flash technologies with different network technologies. Without data locality it is impossible to take advantage of modern flash to its potential, and without data locality you also experience the noisy neighbor problems where one workload on one host can interfere with the performance of other hosts and virtual machines in a larger cluster. This is prevented in the Nutanix architecture, due to the way we intelligently place data as close to the applications as possible. If you want to run large database servers then the Nutanix NX8150, Dell XC730-24 and Lenovo HX7500 systems are the best suited to large database workloads.
One of the best things about working on the keynote demo’s this year was that all the functionality and performance that we were showing in the demo as I described above was delivered in the Nutanix AOS 4.7 release the week following the .Next conference. This means that the additional functionality and performance is only a simple one click upgrade away for all of the Nutanix customers. Some of the more futuristic announcements as part of the day one keynote are still in a future release, but the bulk are available today in the GA of AOS 4.7.
In addition to Acropolis Block Services, which allows bare metal workloads such as Oracle RAC to run on the storage of a Nutanix cluster through iSCSI there was another feature released that didn’t get much attention. That feature was TRIM or Unmap, which is now natively available in the Nutanix architecture, and will allow customers to automatically reclaim space when data is deleted from within a guest VM. This one feature provides more useable capacity without sacrificing performance and is yet another example of the continuous innovation that Nutanix bring customers so they can improve their existing investments on the same hardware. The TRIM process runs as a background task in Curator and when the guest VM marks blocks as reclaimed Curator will release them when it runs a partial or full scan. Because of the way this feature has been implemented there is no impact to performance of running VM’s, even when the background tasks are running and reclaiming space.
For those of you who couldn’t make it to .Next Conference and would like to watch the full Day 1 AM Keynote, I have included it below.
There is still way more to come this year from Nutanix. The innovation will not stop. There is another major release scheduled for later on this year and customers and partners will get to hear more about some of the other interesting things we’ve got planned further out by attending our European edition of .Next in Vienna in November. If you pre-register you could save 40% on admission.
Join @nutanix #NEXTConf EMEA Pre Register to Save 40% – https://t.co/rhEkqMbhrp pic.twitter.com/BxON38yulQ
— WebScale Webster (@vcdxnz001) July 5, 2016
As we say goodbye to Las Vegas for this year of .Next Conference US we plan to bring .Next Conference to Washington, DC next year. Mark this date in your diary and be prepared for an even bigger event as Nutanix bring more of the enterprise cloud goodness to our customers and partners.
Let the countdown to @nutanix #NEXTConf 2017 begin! Gaylord National in DC, June 28-30. pic.twitter.com/GAcMVJH6I6
— Howard Ting (@howardting) June 23, 2016
This post first appeared on the Long White Virtual Clouds blog at longwhiteclouds.com. By Michael Webster +. Copyright © 2012 – 2016 – IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.
Hey Michael! I sat in on your “DBs Love Nutanix” at .NEXT recently. Very good session.
We’ve been waiting for something like the UNMAP/TRIM primitive for a long time. You can achieve the equivalent by writing zero’s within the guest, but in a large environment this really isn’t practical.
Can you tell me, is UNMAP only supported in AOS4.7 on AHV, or is it supported with AOS4.7 on ESXi 6.x as well?
Due to using NFS on ESXi the unmap commands will not be passed through as it requires block storage. However writing zeros will work. If you are using AHV it gets passed through and works automatically. I agree writing zeros isn't practical in an enterprise environment.