Nutanix adds new hybrid cloud capabilities with Xi Clusters and Xi Frame

Other Xi services seeing significant new feature enhancements are IoT, Era and Leap.

In addition to Nutanix’s blockbuster announcement that they are moving into the hyperconverged infrastructure secondary space with Nutanix Mine, Nutanix made some significant announcements around its private and public cloud capabilities at its .NEXT event in Anaheim last week. These include Xi Clusters, which will provide full hybrid-capability by bringing an HCI stack natively onto AWS cloud bare metal. Another one – which reverses the hybrid flow  while keeping management in the cloud – brings Nutanix Xi Frame for the Private Cloud from the public cloud into the data centre.

The new announcements – which have a clear ability to disrupt older products – represent the vast scale and speed of disruption in the industry, said Binny Gil, CTO Cloud Services at Nutanix.

“We keep an eye open all the time in formulating our strategy, as things come to us almost on a weekly basis,” Gil said. One result has been that three key Xi services were acquired to shave time to market – Calm Beam and Frame. On the other hand, Era and Karbon, which is Nutanix’s simplified Kubernetes distribution, they built themselves.

“We have a tendency at Nutanix to keep data close to us – that is our core differentiation,” Gil said. “Karbon is the next generation platform for running applications. That’s why it is being organically grown. We have to live with it for a very long time. It could surpass AHV’s that’s part of the cannibalization that has to happen.”

Cannibalization is also inherent in Nutanix Xi Frame for the Private Cloud, one of the major new announcements.

“This is a core solution in Xi Citrix and VMware deployments,” Gil said. Frame customers have already been able to access virtual desktops and applications from the public cloud. Nutanix Xi Frame for the Private Cloud provides a full hybrid experience by integrating the multi-cloud capabilities with private clouds.

“Now customers can use Frame for VDI deployments that are private cloud focused, with a control plane inside the private cloud,” he indicated. “They will be able to deploy desktops inside the data centre as well.”

Gil acknowledged that one of the logical displacement targets for this is older Nutanix on-prem appliances.

“We acknowledge that cannibalization is a very important issue, but we can’t look at that as we move forward,” Gil stressed.

Gil also noted how this capability fits into a larger trend.

“There is a broad secular trend to taking management and control in the cloud, like Google with Anthos, to provide for hybrid cloud and hybrid cloud management from the cloud,” he said. “So you have hybrid cloud managed from on-prem switching to managed on-the-cloud – and new services appearing from the cloud.”

Xi Clusters, another major announcement, lets current customers of AWS  leverage their existing environments and launch Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS within their current environments, without the need to create a new AWS account, VPCs or WAN networking.

“For customers looking to expand their data centre footprint without buying hardware, or who want to move apps to the cloud, while not wanting to change the apps, Xi clusters allow them to do this in the same familiar Nutanix environment,” Gil said. “But instead of on-prem bare metal, it runs on Amazon bare metal. Xi Clusters is the foundational layer – the Nutanix core. It’s about taking the core piece of AHV, AOS and Prism and making it available in the cloud of choice. At this stage, it is just AWS but that will change over time.”

Gil emphasized that the flow of Xi services through the cloud providers starts at the top, but that experience will be used to drive the services down much more broadly.

“There are two kinds of cloud providers – one is the likes of AWS and Azure which are very advanced in automation capabilities, and the other is the rest,” he said. “The way we enable Xi services on top of AWS is very different from the second class of providers. But when we enable the second set of service providers, we enable them to get an automated stack. We started with a two-rack minimum footprint for Xi, but it packs in a lot of things – load balancers, firewalls, management clusters. So it can be bootstrapped with a smaller investment. It’s learning from the big cloud vendors, and taking that to that second set.”

Xi Clusters on AWS is expected to be available in Technical Preview this summer.

While much of the talk around the show floor at this .NEXT was Nutanix’s challenge to Cohesity and Rubrik in the secondary HCI space with Mine, Gil had a different take on that.

“Mine’s objective is not our native solution competing with others,” he said. “Cohesity and Rubrik already have a solution that’s easy for customers to consume. Customers would like to size environments like Veeam and HYCU environments more easily, and this is what we are trying to enable. This provides an appliance form factor for these software vendors.”

Nutanix also announced new capabilities for other existing services.

“We are going to see a massive shift, where the mission-critical workloads of tomorrow will be very different from mission critical applications today,” said Satyam Vaghani, VP and GM, IoT and AI. “It will be apples and oranges.”

The IoT, Vaghani said, was oranges.

“So starting today we are making a full-fledged stack in the cloud for any developer to use – the Xi IoT Cloud Instance,” he said. “This is a Nutanix-hosted IoT PaaS, with a free trial now. You write apps once, and run on them on cloud instances or the edge.

“It’s time to get ready for the world of oranges,” Vaghani concluded.

Xi Era, Nutanix’s PaaS offering to simplify database automation, also gets a major new feature.

“It is super-exciting to announce a brand new service – one click patching for your favorite databases,” said Bala Kuchibhotla, VP and General Manager of Nutanix database services.

Xi Leap, the cloud DR service, adds support for workloads running on Nutanix private clouds using VMware ESXi, as well as the ability to configure policies to automate the DR workflow from within the Prism Console. Leap also adds new availability zones, beyond U.S. West, U.S. East and the UK, to Italy, Japan and Germany, with more to come.

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