Hyperconverge Your IT Staff

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Photo by flickr user Josep Ma. Rosell

At large IT organizations, traditional infrastructure departments tend to look more or less the same. They’re broken into segments of specialties such as network, storage, servers, virtualization, and service automation.

As infrastructure teams are built up, companies tend to hire experts that can tackle one specific segment of the department. For instance, in the network realm, companies often hire Cisco-certified experts. Over in storage, companies might look for a VMAX expert.

Hiring specialists certainly makes sense in a traditional infrastructure environment, but the practice inevitably entails issues. For starters, creating siloed teams and skills results in  inefficiencies. The costs for specialists can also be quite prohibitive. Beyond that, it can be tricky to find the right specialists that you need for each specific silo. Finally, performance suffers as handoffs have to occur between teams.

To streamline IT infrastructure management and free technicians to focus on more pressing matters—namely the applications and services that power their organizations—Nutanix built the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform. Quite simply, the platform hyperconverges IT staff, enabling a small number of generalists to handle the responsibilities that were previously handled by the former IT functional silos.

Eliminating Inefficiency

IT functional staff silos equate to inefficiency as specialists must work independently and then collaborate to cobble the individual results and initiatives together. In addition to processes simply taking more time, such an arrangement leaves the door open for human error as things get lost in translation.

In almost all organizations, IT staffs are oversubscribed. Nearly 70% of entry- and mid-level IT staffers recently said they’d take a pay cut to escape the stresses from their jobs. What’s more, nearly one-third of all IT professionals (31%) say that they’re currently doing the most stressful work of their lives, and 75% of them say they’re working much harder this year than they did last year.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform allows companies to free up critical IT staff resources, enabling IT workers to devote a lot more time to enabling successful business initiatives — including digital transformation. IT generalists can manage their organization’s entire infrastructure with a single, familiar Prism management interface and tool set. Gone are the days of having to toggle between countless interfaces and innumerable platforms.

Last August, in an IDC study, sponsored by Nutanix and Dell, (you can download the white paper here), IDC found that the average organization in the study reduced administrative requirements by 71% when migrating to Nutanix. A November 2016 ESG study of Lenovo HX (powered by Nutanix) customers similarly shows a 77% decrease in staff personnel cost.

“Because it can be easily managed by an individual, Converged HX Series helps to eliminate the traditional management or departmental silos that exist between virtualization, server, SAN, and storage administrator – greatly reducing the total man hours required to administer, maintain, and monitor the infrastructure.”

– ESG November 2016

How does Nutanix so dramatically reduce administration requirements?  In addition to eliminating the need for IT functional silos, Nutanix also slashes the requirement for all types of routine tasks required in a traditional datacenter.

A September 2016 IDC (Nutanix sponsored) white paper titled, Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing Driving IT Organizational Transformation: Are You Ready? (Download the white paper here) describes in detail the organizational changes required for successful digital transformation. As part of the document, IDC dives into hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) which it describes as, “…natively [collapsing] core storage, compute, and storage networking functions into a single software solution or appliance.”

“Hyperconverged architectures are being used as a platform of choice when building out today’s public and private cloud infrastructure.”

– IDC White Paper, Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing Driving IT Organizational Transformation: Are You Ready? September 2016

The white paper includes a table comparing infrastructure tasks both with traditional infrastructure vs. hyperconverged:

hci-table

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud is very different from the other 34 HCI players. Nutanix marries the same type of web-scale engineering underlying cloud leaders such as Google and Facebook with the consumer-driven simplicity that defines best-selling products such as the Apple iPhone.

The result is the ability for Nutanix customers to non-disruptively upgrade their Nutanix nodes with a single click from the Prism management system. The upgrade applies not only to the Nutanix Acropolis OS, but also to the underlying firmware and even the hypervisor (Nutanix AHV, Hyper-V, XenServer and VMware).

larson-quote

This tweet by San Mateo County’s head of virtualization, Erik Larson, provides just one example of how Nutanix one-click upgrades slash formerly time-consuming tasks. It used to take the County around three days to upgrade their 18 ESX hosts – with an administrator needing to oversee the process nearly the whole time. Now with Nutanix, the entire process is automated with a single click.

The one-click upgrades do much more than simplify a time-consuming task, they also enable all nodes, regardless of age or geographic location, to share the same OS, capabilities and features. For example, the latest Nutanix Acropolis OS release means that customers suddenly have access to new capabilities such as Acropolis File Services and Acropolis Block Services which were part of the latest OS upgrade. Additionally, current nodes benefit from enhanced performance capabilities included in newer versions of the Nutanix OS.

Hypervisor as Feature

While Nutanix simplifies the administrative tasks required with VMware and the other industry-leading virtualization hypervisors, organizations around the globe are adopting its own hypervisor, Nutanix AHV, at a furious pace. Legacy hypervisors are necessarily bloated and complex in order to support monolithic non VM-aware storage arrays and switch fabrics as well as to accommodate thousands of combinations of servers, NICs and drivers.

Nutanix AHV was built from the ground up to provide a much simpler and more scalable hypervisor and associated management platform by leveraging the software intelligence of the hyperconverged architecture. AHV changes the core building block of the virtualized datacenter from hypervisor to application and liberates virtualization from the domain of specialists – making it simple and easily manageable by anyone from DevOps teams to DBAs. AHV keeps virtualization simple, yet still provides all the features required for enterprise applications at scale.

AHV is included with every Nutanix node as a feature similar as to how former products such as deduplication and compression have evolved into features. AHV doesn’t require additional software licensing to extract analytics from the environment, and it doesn’t need to load the data into a separate database. Analytics are built into Prism and incorporate not only Virtualization, but also the Storage and Compute – providing visibility across the entire stack.

As a core component of invisible infrastructure, AHV helps free IT staff to focus on the business rather than on the plumbing. Out-of-the-box availability and auto scaling simplifies the AHV environment design and implementation.

Beauty in Simplicity

The simplicity that Nutanix brings to the datacenter is recognized by customers across the globe. According to the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems (Published: October 2016), Nutanix has over a 50% HCI market share by revenue and, “…has been the market and ‘mind share’ leader in the hyperconverged space since 2011.”

Nutanix’s ability to slash infrastructure complexity is, of course, strongly felt in smaller organizations with limited IT staff. But it also is grabbing the attention of the world’s largest companies. As of October 31, 2016, 376 of the Global 2000 were Nutanix customers.

Companies don’t have to worry about migrating to an Enterprise Cloud Platform overnight, either. The Nutanix pay-as-you-grow model makes it very easy to try out the platform for new use cases and then scale it (compute and storage separately) as needed to accommodate changing business requirements.

“Prior to Nutanix, 30 – 40 hours of IT staff time per week was spent just answering storage performance help desk tickets and resolving storage issues. Since Nutanix, there hasn’t been a single issue of IO-related storage degradation. And the downtime previously required for SAN firmware upgrades is no longer needed.”

      -Erik Larson, Storage & Virtualization Architect at County of San Mateo

What Happens to the IT Jobs?

While IT workers may feel as though the Enterprise Cloud Platform makes their job less important—or even unnecessary—that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that most infrastructure and operations teams aren’t staffed well enough, and are overworked. Harvard Business Review published an article showing a strong correlation between productivity and job satisfaction. With Nutanix, companies are able to get more value from their IT teams, leveraging their strengths and streamlining their workloads.

By building on hyperconvergence with its Enterprise Cloud Platform, Nutanix enables IT to move away from routine tasks such as managing RAID groups, carving LUNs, zoning switches and upgrading hypervisors. Eliminating most infrastructure tasks while adding capabilities such as Acropolis File Services, Self-Service Portal and DevOps enables IT staff to engage in much more rewarding and business impacting work rather than simple infrastructure care and feeding.

Thanks to @StorSC and Harish Sundaram for edits and suggestions.

See Also

Nutanix Administration Course. nu.school.

County of San Mateo Heads to .NEXT. 05/16/2016. Fiona Partlow. Nutanix.com.

7 Reasons why Nutanix is the Next Generation Hypervisor. 12/01/2015. Steve Kaplan. Nutanix.com.

The Single Biggest Benefit of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (It’s not what you Think). 12/05/2015. Steve Kaplan. Nutanix.com.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are mine and not those of Nutanix, Inc. or any of its other employees or affiliates.  Nutanix has not endorsed any of the content contained herein.

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