Nutanix Calm Review

Previously written scripts can be checked in a library and be reused for other blueprints


What is our primary use case?

We provide Test-VMs to users. Currently, we deploy only Windows-VMs from Windows 10 1803 up to 20H2 and Server 2012 R2 to Server 2019. The blueprints consist of a base Windows Image (which is used as a template for the VM to be) and several tasks you can define and use remote PowerShell to get whatever you need to get done, like install additional software, set registry keys - you name it. Each task is then executed in the defined order and results can be reviewed even during execution time. Hardware specs can be made configurable, so users can adjust the amount of RAM or CPU core count but can also be set to static.
We recently set the machines up to configure customary passwords and give users an email notification when the machine is ready to use. Also we differentiate machine networks based on the users department to separate machines.

How has it helped my organization?

Previous inquiries took us almost a full day to prepare the VM to the liking of our users. Now, the deployment time is below 15 minutes and users can do it on their own! That leaves us to only update the blueprints if new requirements come in or new Windows Versions are published. As we have now predefined setups the testing team can rely on common ground for their product tests. Development teams can experiment with alpha versions in a secured environment (separate VLANs) without harming production machines.

What is most valuable?

The self-service for users is key to this solution because the creation is done solely on the users' terms and time. No waiting for IT or such.

Previously written scripts can be checked in a library and be reused for other blueprints.

Blueprints can be made available per project so each user sees only items tailored for their specific use case.
You can also Setup multi-machine blueprints to Support 3-tier applications with reverse proxy, Web Server and database Server, or any other concept there might be.

As always, the Nutanix support team assists with any obstacles you might come across. This led to various enhancements we and all other customers had benefits on.

There is now runbooks to use for things like automatically patch machines.

What needs improvement?

The list of blueprints and applications could be more configurable so you see all the fields you need and not just some predefined fields which are not customizable now.

There are lots of pre-defined blueprints in the online marketplace but often it is a trial and error to get the pre-defined blueprints to work due to some firewall issues. But that may because of our internal firewall being too restrictive.

More support for VMware environments would be great. Most blueprints are tailored for Nutanix AHV or the cloud providers. Hyper-V is currently not supported.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used Calm for over one year now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Calm has no issues with stability. But Calm is heavily worked on by Nutanix, so any issues there might be are fast resolved and updates often help to mitigate problems. Given Nutanix unique 1-click-updates nature, updates are just as easy and reliable. It is advisable to wait for 2 - 3 weeks before upgrading to the latest and greatest so can look if any x.y.z.1 hotfix updates are published to avoid .0 glitches. But they are rare with Nutanix in general and Nutanix support is very helpful if you run into any of them. If you're in doubt simply ask support for help to see for yourself and be ready for your chin to hit the floor ;_) . Reading release notes before doing updates helps a lot to figure out what to expect. Another source for guidance is the compatibility matrix to look for any cross-requirements with Prism Central or AOS version of your target cluster (the cluster you deploy the Calm VMs on).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalibilty is second name to Nutanix. Scale-out of Nutanix Calm is just another node on the target cluster if things get sluggish.

Since Calm is dependent on Prism Central  you could simply scale-out that too. Nutanix has sizing recommandations for that, conveniently packed at Identify Prism Central requirements - Virtual Ramblings. Up to 25000 VMs should fulfill most requirements.

How are customer service and technical support?

Nutanix support is outstanding. As stated above, it does not matter which continent you reside.

Nutanix NPS score is 92 -> https://customer.guru/net-promoter-score/nutanix

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

Our previous solution was hand-crafted VMs which cost IT a whole day or more depending on the requirements. That is why we had to find a more automatic approach. Nutanix Calm broke the duration down to 15 minutes. You even get a notification when the machine is up and running with Name, IP-Address and pre-selected password to get started.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is simply activating it in Prism Central and configuring your target cluster which has to be connected to Prism Central as well, of course. So it is pretty straightforward. From there you can use some of the marketplace blueprints to see how it is done or just see on youtube on nutanix university calm - YouTube

What about the implementation team?

We hit up our Nutanix partner for implementation to get up to speed as fast as possible. Implementation was half a day and we went on with setting some machines up. Expertise was great as we new them from the start and they just get what we want. Thanks to

ErikSterck!

What was our ROI?

This solution is greatly supporting a user-centric IT with less OPEX. Our ROI was covered within 18 month.

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

Setup can be done with Nutanix documentation by yourself to save up some money. Getting a consultant to support on the first steps has its perks, though. But you can always count on Nutanix Support to help out with questions or contact community. Does not matter if where your location is. We had outstanding support from europe, india and the US support offices.

Licensing should be a no-brainer but since there came up various options you should take a close look on the feature matrix to see what is in it and if you need it. Nutanix Calm has a 25-VM-license per customer for free. You only need to license Prism Central Pro node licenses for the cluster you are running Calm against. Every nutanix partner should be able to assist with this.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Other solutions are rare when considering to what extent Nutanix Calm covers the lifecycle of VMs. To answer the question: no, we did not evaluate other solutions. Calm integrates so nicely into Prism Central that any other solution appeared rather bloated in comparison. Also other solutions have problems with day-two operations (altering configuration).

What other advice do I have?

Take a tour for yourself online: https://www.nutanix.dev/ad/at/

You shoud REALLY try this. It is just 5 minutes of your time!

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

3.0
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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