Not just Hypervisor Agnostic, Hypervisor Version Agnostic!

Its well known that Nutanix is Hypervisor agnostic supporting ESXi, Hyper-V and KVM, but what most people either don’t know, or haven’t considered, is the fact the Nutanix Operating System (NOS) version is not dependant on the hypervisor version.

What does this mean?

You can run the latest and greatest NOS 4.1.x releases on ESXi 5.0 , ESXi 6.0 or anything in between. In fact, you could run older versions of NOS such as 3.x with vSphere 6.0 as well (although I see no reason you would do this.)

Why is this important?

This past week I was discussing with some government customers how they can perform upgrades of NOS using our 1-Click upgrade, and I was asked a similar question on several occasions:

“What version of ESXi do we need?”

The reason the customers asked this question is because for large environments, changing/upgrading the hypervisor can be a significant project requiring Design/project management and implementation labor which could cost huge amounts of money when the only goal is to increase storage performance or functionality.

NOS can be upgraded independent of the Hypervisor (and without performing a single vMotion or putting hosts into maintenance mode). This ensures that customers who cannot or do not wish to upgrade ESXi for any reason, continue to benefit from the ever increasing performance and feature set of NOS.

While hyper-converged solutions like Nutanix combine the compute/hypervisor layer and the storage layer delivering numerous benefits over traditional 3-tier architecture, it’s a significant advantage to be able to independently upgrade the compute or storage layer.

This is something Nutanix delivers which is just one of the many ways we make our solution “Uncompromisingly Simple”.

Oh, did I mention NOS also provides support for 1-Click Hypervisor and Firmware upgrades ? :)

Related Articles:

Microsoft Exchange on Nutanix Best Practice Guide

I am pleased to announce that the Best Practice guide for Microsoft Exchange on Nutanix is released and can be found here.

For me deploying MS Exchange on Nutanix with vSphere combines best of breed application level resiliency (in the form of Exchange Database Availability Groups), infrastructure and hypervisor technologies to provide an infrastructure with not only high performance, but with industry leading scalability, no silos and very high efficiency & resiliency.

All of this leads to overall lower CAPEX/OPEX for customers.

In summary by Virtualizing MS Exchange on Nutanix, customers realize several key benefits including:

  • Ability to use a standard platform for all workloads in the datacenter, thus allowing the removal of legacy silos resulting in lower overall cost, and increased operational efficiencies.
    • An example of this is no disruption to MS Exchange users when performing Nutanix / Hypervisor or HW maintenance
  • A highly resilient , scalable and flexible MS Exchange deployment.
  • Reducing the number of Exchange Mailbox servers required to maintain 4 copies of Exchange data thanks to the combination of NDFS + DAG. (2 copies at NDFS layer / 2 copies at DAG layer)
  • Eliminate the need for large / costly refresh cycles of HW as individual nodes can be added and removed non disruptively.
  • Simplified architecture, no need for complex sizing architecture or risk of over sizing day 1, start small and scale VMs, Compute or storage if/when required.
  • No dependency of specific HW, Exchange VMs can be migrated to/from any Nutanix node and even to non Nutanix nodes.
  • Full support from Nutanix including at the Exchange, Hypervisor and Storage layers with support from Microsoft via Premier Support contracts or via TSANet.
  • Lower CAPEX/OPEX as Exchange can be combined with new or existing Nutanix/Virtualization deployment.
  • Reduced datacenter costs including Power, Cooling , Space (RU)

I hope you enjoy the Best Practice guide and look forward to hearing about your MS Exchange on Nutanix questions & experiences.

Example Architectural Decision – Default Virtual Machine Compatibility Configuration

Problem Statement

In a VMware vSphere 5.5 environment, what is the most suitable configuration for Virtual Machine Compatibility setting at the Datacenter and Cluster layers?

Assumptions

1. vSphere Flash Read Cache is not required.
2. VMDKs of greater than 2TB minus 512b are not required.

Motivation

1. Reduce complexity where possible.
2. Maximize supportability.

Architectural Decision

Configure the vSphere Datacenter level “Default VM Compatibility” as “ESXi 5.1 or later” and leave the vSphere Cluster level “Default VM Compatibility” as “Use datacenter setting and host version” (default).

Justification

1. Avoid limiting management of the environment to the vSphere Web Client.
2. The Default VM Compatibility only needs to be set once at the datacenter layer and then all clusters within the datacenter will inherit the desired setting.
3. Reduce the dependency of the Web Client in the event of a disaster recovery.
4. As vFRC and >2TB VMDKs and vGPU are not required, there is no significant advantage to HW Version 10.
5. Ensuring a standard virtual machine compatibility level is maintained throughout the environment and reducing the chance of mismatched VM version types in the environment.
6. Simplicity.

Implications

1. Virtual Machine Hardware Compatibility automatic update must be DISABLED to prevent the VM hardware being automatically upgraded following a shutdown.
2. vSphere Flash Read Cache (vFRC) cannot be used.
3. VMDKs will remain limited at 2TB minus 512b.

Alternatives

1. Virtual Machine HW Version 10 (vSphere 5.5 onwards).
2. Virtual Machine HW Version 8 (vSphere 5.0 onwards).
3. Virtual Machine HW Version 7 (vSphere 4.1 onwards).
4. Older Virtual machine HW versions.