What’s .NEXT 2016 – Any node can be storage only

Nutanix has had a lot of success with our storage only nodes which since they were released back at .NEXT 2015 and they have made their way into deals of all shapes and sizes.

For those of you not familiar with this capability, Nutanix provides the ability to scale the Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric (ADSF) for both storage capacity and performance as well as increase the resiliency of the management layer without the need to scale CPU/RAM (and license the servers for vSphere if that is your chosen hypervisor).


Storage only nodes run AHV and are interoperable with Hyper-V and vSphere environments while being managed centrally through PRISM.

One common request I have heard is “Can we turn our existing storage heavy nodes into storage only?”.

The first time I heard this request I why a little surprised, and asked why.

The customer responded with something to the effect of: “We want to reduce our vSphere licensing and we only purchased these nodes for additional capacity”.

Reducing licensing of vSphere as well as applications like Oracle and SQL are of course a fairly common requests these days so Nutanix went away and investigated a number of options.

In addition to storage only nodes (NX-6035C) being very successful, customers have also asked if they can have different sized storage only nodes where performance was more of a requirement than capacity. For example, NX-8150 with 4 x SSDs and 20 HDDs or the NX-3060 nodes with 2 x SSDs and 4 x SATA, again this was not an option so we took this feedback onboard.

The more recent request has been from our All Flash (NX-9000) customers who want to scale capacity and performance but not compute. While adding NX9000 nodes to the cluster achieved the technical outcome required (increasing capacity and performance) it did so at least for vSphere customers at the additional cost of vSphere licensing which is a pain point for many customers who are yet to convert to AHV.

I am pleased to say all these problems have now been solved!

Customers can now convert any existing node/s into storage only nodes (which run AHV).

Some of the advantage of this include:

  • Removing the requirement for vSphere customers to license nodes unnecessarily when scaling the storage layer
  • Allowing capacity & performance scalability for high performance (inc. All Flash) environments
  • Allowing increased capacity/performance and resiliency with homogeneous clusters.

It is also possible to deploy any new nodes, regardless of node type as a storage only node to scale clusters out further, again without vSphere licensing.

Also announced at .NEXT 2016 was Acropolis Block Services (ABS) and Acropolis File Services (AFS) which provide a highly resilient/performant and scalable block and file services to both virtual and physical servers.

Combine ABS and AFS with any node being able to be deployed or converted to a storage only node and you have very comprehensive platform which helps eliminate the need for silos of infrastructure for different use cases.

For Business Critical Applications such as Oracle and MS SQL, it is now possible to scale capacity/performance and resiliency even for All-Flash solutions without incurring additional software licensing costs from Oracle and Microsoft.

It’s really simple, purchase and license the nodes you require from a CPU/RAM perspective with the storage configuration you want (e.g.: Hybrid or All-Flash), then use CTO to purchase storage only nodes (either hybrid or all-flash) and add those to the cluster.

The following shows as example of what this may look like.


Storage only nodes help reduce to RF overhead on the nodes running VMs which frees up more local space so the applications benefit more from data locality. The additional storage only nodes also increase write performance as more Nutanix CVMs and high performance SSD drives reside in the cluster, making for a higher performance and more consistent outcome.

The below shows how a cluster may have for example eight nodes running and licensed for vSphere with the remaining nodes providing performance/capacity/resiliency running AHV free of licensing costs.



  1. Supports Acropolis Block Services (ABS) & Acropolis File Services (AFS) allowing non-disruptive scaling of VM and bare metal servers storage performance/capacity
  2. Enables All Flash environments to scale performance/capacity
  3. Reduces application licensing costs (e.g.: Oracle/SQL) while scaling storage capacity/performance
  4. For vSphere customers who have more compute nodes than they need, one or more of these nodes can be converted to AHV to provide storage only and reduce vSphere licensing costs
  5. Allows vSphere customers to only license 2 nodes in minimum 3 node Nutanix configurations without reducing the resiliency of the ADSF cluster

Related .NEXT 2016 Posts