Nutanix Acropolis AOS Review

Easy to manage in an integrated environment using a single pane of glass


What is our primary use case?

We replaced our three-tier-solution with Nutanix and kept our VMware ESXi licenses.

We use it for general virtualization, host our Windows fileserver virtually, and do VirtualDesktops with Citrix there.

We have two nodes equipped with one nVidia M10-GPU each to get 3D-acceleration to boost the CAE-Terminal servers. This means that VMs like AD-Domain controllers, Exchange-Servers, SQL-Servers, and various Application Servers are running side-by-side with our SAP-Systems leveraging the  SAP ASE Database (no HANA, yet) virtually on vSphere 6.

How has it helped my organization?

We were content with the previous solution, which was NetApp Storage and Dell Blade-Servers for compute. We did not miss a thing besides the performance. Now, after three years in production, we would not go back to that solution.

Nutanix gives us fewer headaches with managing and other administrative operations. Having a single-vendor-solution is much more straightforward. We don't have to deal with VMware because it simply is not necessary, besides setting up new GPU-machines.

Creation of VMs can be done with Prism Element, the web management for each Nutanix Cluster. Nutanix also covers any problems we have with the ESXi software.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the integration of all parts in Prism Element, the browser-based management tool. It gives you detailed information about the environment, helps you drill down on alerts, and keeps the solution up to date with LCM (Life Cycle Manager).

When using Nutanix AHV as a hypervisor, it is the management tool for that too. When you chose another hypervisor it just does basic tasks like VM creation, reconfiguration, and start/stop. It is just enough to keep everything in this "single-pane-of-glass" tool.

What needs improvement?

I would enjoy an advanced mode where experienced users can leverage their knowledge to do advanced things currently only allowed using the command line tools on the CVM.

While using the Shell is okay for sich advanced things like take a disk image as a ground for a Calm blueprint it would be easier to get it done. Even more so of you just follow directions of a colleague.

Currently that kind of task is limitted to the shell.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Nutanix Acropolis AOS for more than three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Unless you opt for the short term support path (STS), stability is a given with LTS versions. You get not every feature available, immediately, but that is no concern for stable systems.

You cannot download older versions with known critical bugs. The Life Cycle Manager (LCM) supports you with checks to hint at known compatibility issues. I noticed the hint to update Nutanix Files in order to support the AOS upgrade I was planning. Directly in Prism Element!

That is simply amazing. Of course, one would visit the "upgrade paths" and "software interoperability" pages in the support section of https://my.nutanix.com .

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is the true nature of HCI solutions like Nutanix AOS. Just add a node. Done.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used NetApp Storage in conjunction with Dell Blade-Servers for compute.

How was the initial setup?

My advice is to get your first cluster up and running with a partner experienced to do so. We got lucky with our Nutanix partner company but ask for their level of experience. Don't get me wrong: it is not hard to set up but you should have support from experienced consultants who are familiar if something goes south.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing of Nutanix is not cheap but there are options available. Don't cut short on support contracts, as the (pricey) ultimate support offering is worth every buck.

You have to realize that Nutanix AOS is the basic platform for your environment. If you need to cut costs then use Nutanix AHV as a hypervisor free of charge. Most applications are running with that. If it runs on ESXi then it most likely runs on AHV, but check with your other application vendors.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We explored the options by re-iterating our previous solution and came short of delivering support for additional demands like VDI. Re-Iterating also meant up-staging storage because of the ONTAP-OS upgrade. So, a change was due, either way.

What other advice do I have?

It is difficult for me to point to areas that need improvement. AOS is constantly on the move to new heights. It is considered even on a feature-level with vSAN, while far ahead of that in regards to performance and resilience.

See Nutanix Principal Architect Josh Odgers CloudXC | By Josh Odgers – VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) #90 for a detailed explanation on that topic.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

5.15
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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