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Start-up releases all-in-one VMware server, storage appliance

Nutanix's Complete Cluster puts VMware servers, storage under one management GUI

August 16, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Start-up Nutanix today launched its first product, a slim, virtualized server that is clustered together with solid state and hard drive storage that can be managed under a single console view.

Nutanix's Complete Cluster is 2U-high (3.5-in.) VMware-based appliance can grow both CPU and storage capacity dynamically, adjusting it to the performance requirements of an application.

For example, a single 2U enclosure contains four x86 nodes or what Nutanix refers to as blocks. Each block contains 8 Intel Xeon processors with a total of 48 cores and 192GB RAM (upgradable to 768GB) for running virtual machines.

The appliance also includes 1.3TB of PCIe-based flash storage from Fusion-io, 1.2TB of SATA solid state drives (SSDs) from Intel and 20TB of traditional SATA hard drives from Seagate for storing virtual machine data.

Each 2U enclosure can grow by adding blocks, each of which is connected to the last through a 10Gbit/sec Ethernet connection.

Complete Cluster
Nutanix's Complete Cluster appliance

Similar to some larger storage area networks (SANs), the Complete Cluster product is able to dynamically migrate data from higher performance storage, such as Intel's SSDs, to higher capacity storage, such as Seagate's hard drives, depending on the performance matrix surrounding the data.

The Fusion-io PCI-e flash cards are used to store metadata about the data so that it can be indexed and mapped for later retrieval no matter where it resides in the storage system.

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said the Complete Cluster is being targeted at midsized companies that prefer products which require fewer IT employees to manage and can grow with their business.

"This is technology that gives them simplicity. It allows them to use the same set of people do more things. For example, a Windows admin can manage an entire data center," Pandey said. "It's also investment protection because it grows with them."

Pandey claims the Complete Cluster appliance can offer savings of between 40% to 60%, and as much as 10 times the performance over traditional virtualized server/SAN architectures because the storage sits directly next to the virtualized server CPU.

The Complete Cluster also offers many of the attributes of a traditional network-attached storage (NAS) or SAN products, such as data snapshots, replication, and RAID protection.

The four nodes
The four nodes of Nutanix's Complete Cluster

The product has a starting price of $115,000. For that, you get one Complete Cluster with four nodes. There is also a starter kit with three nodes that retails for $75,000. A full rack, with 18 complete blocks or 72 nodes, retails for $2.07 million.

While Nutanix's product is similar to clustered NAS systems such as EMC's Isilon or Panasas in that it uses an x86 architecture, it's differentiated in its inclusion of virtualized server CPUs.

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