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Nutanix Calm OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Nutanix Calm is #4 ranked solution in top Cloud Management tools. IT Central Station users give Nutanix Calm an average rating of 8 out of 10. Nutanix Calm is most commonly compared to VMware vRealize Automation (vRA):Nutanix Calm vs VMware vRealize Automation (vRA). The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 41% of all views.
What is Nutanix Calm?

Nutanix Calm allows you to seamlessly select, provision, and manage your business applications across your infrastructure for both the private and public clouds. Nutanix Calm provides App lifecycle, monitoring and remediation to manage your heterogeneous infrastructure, for example, VMs or bare-metal servers. Nutanix Calm supports multiple platforms so that you can use the single self-service and automation interface to manage all your infrastructure. Nutanix Calm provides an interactive and user friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) to manage your infrastructure.

Nutanix Calm Buyer's Guide

Download the Nutanix Calm Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Nutanix Calm Customers
JetBlue, International Speedway Corporation, Volkswagen SAIC, Brighton and Hove City Council, Foresters Financial, Janus International Group, Cloud Comrade, Serco
Nutanix Calm Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Nutanix Calm pricing:
  • "You will see great value from it if you utilize the self-service part of Calm. The price you pay for it will only give you equal value if you use the self-service part to enable other teams. If you only use it as a deployment mechanism, I think it's rather expensive."

Nutanix Calm Reviews

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Parham Shabaniani
Cloud Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
MSP
Top 20
Enables us to maximize the available capacity of the environment that workloads are using

Pros and Cons

  • "We use Calm's one-click self-service feature and it's really transforming the team's efficiency. The teams are used to being reactive, which is typical of what you find in IT organizations and service providers. Customers run into problems and teams react. What we're trying to do is reduce that slope and be more proactive in approach. The one-click ability is enabling us to take some of those activities and put them into operation, versus people manually responding."
  • "While there are multiple clouds supported, we want less friction around the ease of delivery. We want the ability to integrate other clouds, unify the accounts."

What is our primary use case?

We evaluated Calm primarily as an automation platform because that's what it is. I work for a service provider and we represent a lot of customers.

Our journey with Calm started because we wanted to decentralize our platform of services to customers, because agility is one of the biggest concerns. As a service provider, we have very rigid practices because we follow ITIL processes. If we're managing a customer's environment, we need to have controls. The unfortunate reality of controls is that they add rigidity, and that works in contrast to the agility of cloud where customers want to be able to adopt and migrate and move quickly, based on their businesses needs.

We're developing Calm in a way where we give customers choice and flexibility, so that we don't have to consume workloads for them. We give them Marketplace, and part of Marketplace is that we publish open source applications, as well as managed applications and unmanaged applications. These applications could be as simple as a stack of load balancers, middleware, and database. Or it could just be an operating system. It's really the customer's choice. We've given them a platform, similar to the way public cloud providers do, a marketplace where they can go consume, but in our marketplace, that consumption can be on their platform. We provide a shared platform like a public cloud, and the hyperscalers, so they can consume it in Amazon and Microsoft Azure as well.

Part of our journey with Calm was that we wanted to speed the process up, but at the same time, have a standard catalog in that process, and let that catalog evolve with our customer feedback.

In our organization, we are both a partner, a service provider, and reseller of Nutanix. We have a very strong relationship with them. We have adopted Nutanix as a standard for our service provider cloud, which is located in five data centers in the central United States. In these environments, we have deployed Nutanix for our own services and shared services, and we are also selling private cloud, based on the Nutanix platform, to our customers. With these deployments, we are standardizing on Calm as a centralized management marketplace. So it's doing a couple of things. It's letting customers consume against their own platform, and it's allowing customers the access to be able to consume hyperscale and/or our shared platform if they choose to do so.

Our journey, right now, is balancing between managing operating systems and our managed service practice for our customers. We're trying to automate that managed service practice with Calm and their blueprints and the openness of scripting that they support, so that we can automate adding an application, an operating system, from our catalog. It goes through an ITIL process of creating a customer asset in our service library. It grabs values of that asset—naming conventions, components of the infrastructure, et cetera—and puts them into the customer's asset library.

These are all bits of underlying automation that you normally wouldn't necessarily have to do, but as a managed product we do so on behalf of the customer for inventory purposes. And that's just one aspect, what a managed platform does. The other aspect is an unmanaged platform. A customer can say, "I want to do 10 things and I'm managing them myself, and I'm going to probably destroy them when I'm done." We wanted that ubiquitousness, so a customer can choose whether they want something managed by us or managed by them, but where we keep the experience for doing so the same. It's a standard journey instead of their having to open a ticket and request something and then wait for a period of time for it to be executed. We're trying to remove ourselves as friction.

Our use case for Calm has been wrapped around giving customers a marketplace to standardize their experience and to determine what the components of that standardization are, which includes workloads that we manage, workloads that the customer manages, and those two scenarios can be on their private cloud, our shared platform, or the hyperscalers.

How has it helped my organization?

The beauty of the Calm platform is that it's really an open platform so you're not locked into a language that you're forcing developers and your team to use. We're working on enabling a DevOps journey inside of our company where we're not forcing people to adopt a tool and use a framework that they're not familiar with. We're allowing Microsoft people to use PowerShell. We're allowing our Linux teams to use shell scripts and Python. They have their choices. It's also allowing other components, like JSON. Our DevOps team that uses Terraform and other technologies uses JSON as a component for infrastructure automation. Blueprints allow all of that functionality.

You can also create a library of these scripts so that other team members can use what you've already developed to help speed and accelerate the automation journey. That is the next step for us. We're getting all this source that is very decentralized today—where people write their scripts, they store them, and they're not really a shared platform—and we're using Calm as a mechanism to bring it all together. The next step will be to integrate Calm with our source library and CI/CD pipeline. That is a forward-looking statement. Those are things we're working on. The DNA within our company, historically, wasn't as a software development shop, but we're transforming that now and using Calm as a mechanism to get there.

We have long-time customers, and our method of managing their workloads has been very traditional. When a request comes in, we go through a process of provisioning and deploying that request. We've enabled Calm on their platforms, so when a request comes in, one of our engineers executes the request, but instead of manually pulling triggers for the customer, to execute that request we now use Calm to deploy the customer's request and allow the automation to do the rest. We have scenarios with some customers where we are completely hands-off. They come to us and they say, "I want 10 of these and 20 of those." We execute that request for them using Calm, but that experience is somewhere on an order of magnitude of a fraction of the time that they used to have to wait previously, to have that request delivered.

In addition, by using Calm, we have the ability to keep these blueprints and images up to date. Previously, we had an automation process that built these images but they were constantly having to go through a management lifecycle. With Calm, we have been able to streamline that lifecycle so that what we're providing our customers is really the latest and the greatest.

Calm's abilities, in terms of team collaboration, come out in our standard marketplace or platform where teams are using the same experience. It's the same UI, so they're able to talk through their experience and talk through what they run into. We're using some of the functions of Calm to build project teams so they have the same access level and the same control. They're sharing the platform together. That gives them the ability to collaborate better across the platform.

And Calm is an HTML5 interface. It's all web-based applications at this point. Given what's happened over the last 12 months [as a result of COVID-19] and that everyone is remote, it's a lot easier to collaborate because it is all HTML5 and web-based. Our teams don't have to worry about legacy tools and applications to try to work together. From that perspective, we haven't really lost time in the journey because of all the recent events. We've been able to keep on working and keep on moving things forward.

In terms of Calm's ability to optimize, the analogy we use is a T-shirt because we have an extra small, a small, a medium, and a large. Those are really just subsets of components of the underlying infrastructure: this many CPUs, that much memory, this much storage. We use that to catalog our resources. The beauty of that catalog that we're building is that it is consumed against an infrastructure. By "T-shirting" these consumption models, we're able to maximize the available capacity of the environment that these workloads are sitting on. By contrast, when you randomly consume, which was typical in the "old days" where you would manually provision something, you provisioned them to non-standard tiers of infrastructure. That meant you were not consuming a platform linearly and that you were usually under-consuming something. You would make an investment and not maximize the output of that investment. By standardizing our "T-shirts" with Calm, we have also standardized the infrastructure that things are consumed against. So when our customers invest thousands of dollars on both infrastructure and tools with us, we allow them to get the maximum utility of that infrastructure investment, by using Calm as a mechanism to consume against it.

When it comes to application development and deployment, we have a series of management tools that we provide to our customers but those tools have a backend. We're trying to build automation into those tools so that they can be deployed and distributed automatically. We're using Calm to centralize and deploy those scripts automatically, in a distributed way, down to customers' private clouds and other environments. The intent is to build an application catalog with our customers so they can consume against it, using the Nutanix Marketplace to purchase those applications, very similar to what Amazon and Microsoft marketplaces are like. We're easily seeing a 20 percent improvement, and probably more, in that application development. That's a conservative number.

Calm is also transforming the way we QA and operate—the whole nine yards. Our process for delivering an application, an environment, goes through what we call a readiness exercise, a validation exercise. In the software world you would call it an SDLC stack where you go through dev, test, UAT, and release. That can be a very static and manual process, and it's very hands-on. What we're doing with Calm is transforming the process. We're saying, "Well, instead of manually doing the exercise, why don't we build triggers in our automation so that we can validate whether things are working properly or not along the way." We're making it a continuous validation process and an automated validation process. We're going through that journey right now, but when it ends, in all likelihood it will cut our validation time in half. We probably spend half our time validating an environment before we hand it over. If we automate that validation, we don't have to actually spend time doing it. Currently we spend time meeting with teams to do acceptance of our validation. So all that time will be freed up because we won't need a meeting to talk about validation.

Overall, we've gone from deploying workloads in 45 minutes or 90 minutes and we've taken that down, in some cases, to seven minutes.

What is most valuable?

The greatness of the Calm platform is that it removes itself, in a sense, so it's unknown to many people. It's a marketplace. You consume resources. If you design it properly, it obfuscates itself. Part of our challenge in the journey working with customers is to have them understand that that is what you want. You want it to be simple. But usually making something simple on one side is fairly hard to do on the other.

We use Calm's one-click self-service feature and it's really transforming the team's efficiency. The teams are used to being reactive, which is typical of what you find in IT organizations and service providers. Customers run into problems and teams react. What we're trying to do is reduce that slope and be more proactive in approach. The one-click ability is enabling us to take some of those activities and put them into operation, versus people manually responding.

What needs improvement?

We have a very close relationship with Nutanix and I have a very close relationship with the Calm team. I've given them a lot of feedback around multi-tenancy. Because we're a service provider, multi-tenancy is a big deal. 

Another aspect is that, while there are multiple clouds supported, we want less friction around the ease of delivery. We want the ability to integrate other clouds, unify the accounts.

Identity access management or IdP are other areas we've talked to Nutanix about, to move toward more of an identity access model, not just with the ability to use IdP to authenticate, but to also attach our back controls to the IdP so that we can have that centralized and decentralized model with customers.

And we want the marketplace and the blueprints to be a little bit more "brandable," for lack of a better word. This is really a service provider play, but we want the ability to make that a little bit more brandable so that we can scale that marketplace. We want it to be easy to determine which cloud you're selecting when you're picking something from the marketplace to consume. 

We also want to show cost to the customer. We want a model that says, "Well, if you consume that, this is approximately what it's going to cost you, depending on where you consume it, which cloud you're consuming it in."

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Nutanix Calm for about two years now. We evaluated it just over two years ago. I was familiar with it in its early stages.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with Calm. Nutanix is really embracing that reference architecture within other aspects of its core applications. Calm is a containerized application that Nutanix deploys within their platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Calm has the ability to autoscale resources, so that if you need to scale up a resource, you can build those mechanics into your blueprints. We're consuming that ability internally, for testing purposes. We've talked to our customers about that and we're going to introduce it to them as that agility becomes reality.

The challenge is whether their applications have that "breathability" or not, and whether they are familiar with that. We want to be careful on the autoscaling aspects for customers because not all customers have web-scale applications. A lot of them have traditional applications. But we're definitely adding that to our subset of tools and resources so that there's an automation lifecycle with the ability to scale out a resource. Calm definitely has that capability and we've been using it for a while ourselves, evaluating and testing it. We're trying to work that into our discussion with our customers.

Overall, Calm is highly scalable and we haven't had any performance issues with it. The specifications numbers are in the specs, but we haven't hit anywhere near that. Those tolerance ranges are fairly significant. If you were to ask me about this a year from now, I might say that we will hit some scalability issues based on adoption. The good news with Nutanix is that they're constantly looking at this stuff as well. We're in constant communication with them about the platform.

The people in our organization using Calm include our DevOps team, our "high-end" engineers on both Windows and Linux, and our architecture team. That's roughly 20 people who are using Calm or developing within it. Those teams also work with customers against the Calm platform. We're now working on the next half of the journey, which is to bring the rest of the company along, extend our product catalog with Calm, and to start showcasing it to customers.

How are customer service and technical support?

Nutanix technical support is a top-notch team. It's really one of the best experiences we have had and that I've personally had. When we call into Nutanix, their SREs are just phenomenal. Their discipline is absolutely amazing. We can get through escalation if we need to and get to a team, whether that's Calm or any other team, in a very short period of time. And that extends, for us, into their product team, into their engineers, or their QA if we need to.

It's an amazing experience to go through with Nutanix. Their knowledge is phenomenal. Their agility is phenomenal.

And with the Nutanix platform, they have the ability to see everything remotely as well, through logs. The platform uses a tool called Pulse which collects all the background information. It's a follow-the-sun approach, depending on what you need and what your escalation is. They can hand that ball around across the globe to get you to your result.

It's not that you'd ever want to have to call in to support for a problem, but with the way they have built the platform and the great team they have built, if you do have to call in, you can really feel comfortable that they're going to get you to where you need to be and they're going to get you there quickly.

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

Before Calm we tried many solutions. At some point tried Morpheus. That was prior to my joining our company, although I had previous experience with Morpheus. One of the challenges with Morpheus were some of the core things we have talked about. It was a completely independent platform. We had some API issues with it, as a service provider, and it didn't necessarily accelerate our journey. It unified things, because it was one interface, but the core, underlying infrastructure pieces weren't necessarily transformed as a result of it. While the experience became unified, it still took 30 minutes or 45 minutes or an hour to get something deployed. Whereas Calm now sits on top of a whole new ecosystem and that ecosystem has transformed a lot of things. 

We played with the VMware tools for a period of time, but those are expensive tools. It was very expensive to adopt that platform. We were trying to figure out the best mechanics for accelerating the platform without adding too much cost. That's when we started our Nutanix journey.

How was the initial setup?

Nutanix makes the deployment easy, just like everything else that they have in their software stack. It's a very simple deployment model. It's part of the Nutanix software tool chain.

We have a combination of a uniform implementation strategy for Calm and taking different customers' requirements into account. We work with our customers to get feedback. We've started with a baseline of operating systems, primarily, because most of our customers are still in the traditional consumption model. And we're complementing that based on their feedback. We're also working with Nutanix because Nutanix has a large customer base as well. We've just really started that journey.

What about the implementation team?

When we adopted the platform, we engaged Nutanix's services team so we could accelerate our journey with them. We had nothing but a great experience with them and their team. We were able to get Calm and core components of the platform up fairly quickly and get base applications going. 

Now we're taking that framework and applying the aspects of our business to it.

What was our ROI?

The biggest thing with Calm is that it has helped to fill a hole in our journey: How we were going to automate across all these different environments in the cloud, and without necessarily having to go build and develop a platform.

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

We're a service provider with a very strong relationship with Nutanix. We have multiple mechanisms of licensing Calm. From our perspective, the pricing is flexible and it's also unique. As a service provider, we can talk to Nutanix at a different level around how we license Calm.

You typically license Calm against your environment or you can license it by the workload. That makes a lot of sense, because workloads can live within your private cloud or the public cloud, it makes no difference. With any deal with Nutanix, they provide a certain number of seats with your purchase. So you get to use it from day one. I believe you get 25 seats with a purchase. There's nothing stopping you from embracing the journey because you've already paid for it.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be patience. It's very exciting and sometimes you want to jump in with both feet and go really fast. It's not that I'm against that, but my take is that it's such a capable platform that you should take on things that you can achieve and then achieve them. Take on activities that you can succeed with and show that incremental progress. Sometimes you want to take on too much and go big-bang. As enticing as that is, take on pieces of Calm and succeed with them, and let the platform evolve. Don't try to wholesale adopt it too fast. If you're more traditional in nature and you're doing typical project management, your windows could be big. Those steps up can be huge. So you want to make sure you show some incremental progress.

There's a plethora of automation tools out there as well as methods for how you build automation. Most of these platforms are frameworks and you have to build your own methods and use your own sets of tools. And when you're a service provider, and I think this would apply to the enterprise, cloud is an ubiquitous platform. In today's world, cloud is a ubiquitous term where companies don't necessarily look at just a cloud. They look at a cloud ubiquitously, because while you have three or four major hyperscale cloud-platform providers, they all have their different sets of software-based tools. In some cases, one cloud does certain things really well, while other clouds do other things that are better.

Limiting yourself and your business to one cloud might not be your best choice. And that has historically been the case in a lot of companies' journeys, but that situation is now evolving. Now, you don't just look at one cloud. Suppose you're a company that is heavily invested in Microsoft solutions. There are certain aspects of Microsoft, either your technology or your financial investments, which behoove you to use Microsoft Azure because it's beneficial to you. But there are certain things in the lifecycle of your software development where Amazon might be a better fit for certain aspects of what you do. In today's world, companies are evolving and they're open to the flexibility.

In that scenario, how do you decide your tool chain? How do you decide to invest in the use of tools from one platform provider or the other? Part of that assessment is cost and this is where Calm comes in because, as a lifecycle automation manager, it doesn't care which cloud you provision. You have choices. And the good news is that you control your source. So you don't have to use the tool set that Microsoft provides and then try to automate into Amazon from it, or vice-versa. You can try to develop those tools to automate by yourself, and a lot of large companies have made that significant investment in software—both in resources as well as capital. But these are platforms that consist of a lot of tools which have costs wrapped around them. The beauty of Calm is that it gives you your choice. Nutanix uses the expression "freedom of choice." That's really the conclusion we've come to, as a service provider. Part of what we want to do is give our customers choices. We want to help them along their journeys and help them make good choices, both technical and financial. And of course, those two pieces work off of each other.

Calm's support for scripts is a tale with two stories. First, it's exposing the scripts to a lot of people within the team. They can now use the same sets of scripts and augment them to do a specific function, versus starting from scratch. It may save them from having to research something. We have a library of these scripts that we're building.

Second, it's a step back before it's a step forward, because the team members have to get familiarized with this mechanism and with the delivery blueprint. We're ramping things up to get everyone slowly trained on the platform and to get them used to the platform, and that takes time. The mechanism of delivering the scripts is different from what they're familiar with. We're probably 10 percent into that journey. We've got a core team that has been working in it. Now, we're trying to extend that across other areas of the organization. Once we get everyone to participate and get a standardized library of scripts, we will see a very significant reduction in time. We'll see the agility of building applications a lot faster. 

What Calm has done for us is it's enabled the rigidity to be lifted. We're looking at a lot of different ways of changing things. It's a transformative tool. If you embrace it and adopt it properly, it opens the door to developing a life cycle process and the tools to use around Calm in terms of a repository and pipelining. Calm is also bringing us to discuss mutable and immutable infrastructure. Do we need to use tools like Puppet or Chef as a version control? Or, now that we have Calm, and we can strip out an application-ware or a middleware or something else, and start moving into a quasi microservices journey, does that infrastructure now become more mutable, where you can just destroy it and recreate it? Why try to save its configuration?

These are core topics, and they are big. It's traditional and nontraditional. This is a journey that Calm enables. If you embrace it, a lot of things become transformative with it. When you look at all those things, in many cases, you have to take a couple of steps back. But can you embrace Calm and do a lot of things right upfront? Of course you can. How quickly depends on your company size. We have a fairly large organization and we have a lot of customers, so we have to think of all those moving parts in embracing the journey. The good news with us is that we're going to be able to extend Calm to a lot of our customers. Calm will be a platform that a lot of customers will be able to use and embrace.

It's a great platform and I would rate it at eight out 10. The difference between eight and a nine is in the different things that we're asking for as a service provider. An enterprise or a commercial business might look at it slightly differently, but for me eight is a great score. It's a score I don't usually give out. Calm is a great team. They have developed a great platform and it's continuously improving. I look forward to seeing a lot of people adopt it.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner/Reseller/Service Provider
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Ilan Stark
Project Manager at a healthcare company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
We are aiming for "infrastructure-as-code" so that we can always recreate an environment, without manual work

Pros and Cons

  • "The scripting, where you can use libraries, is a valuable feature. We don't really make the blueprints, as we have a third-party company that makes them for us. But it enables calling APIs in the blueprints. When we create a machine, we use IPAM from Infoblox and we can get an IP address. It's one platform to script and we can then use all the APIs to complete the scripts. It gives us a central management tool from which we can do a lot of things automatically."
  • "I cannot say Calm is providing centralized control of all our applications because we have some legacy systems. We have IBM iSeries, which is another technology. But with Calm we can centralize all our x86 machines."

What is our primary use case?

One goal was to automate things. We had a lot of tools, but we needed a centralized tool. Calm helps us to centralize the deployments of our VMs. 

We have a subsystem installed on Nutanix and we have blueprints for setting up this subsystem very easily. Also, for Kubernetes clusters, we use now CaaS from SUSE and we also create Kubernetes clusters with Calm. Our strategy is to make blueprints for all the virtual machines environments. It's an ongoing process.

How has it helped my organization?

Our first project was to create subsystems. This was really an accelerator because we have three environments and over 50 machines. Once we had a sub-template, it was very easy to migrate to Nutanix, to set up a system. Before Nutanix it took days and now it's maybe one or two hours. It's really fast when you use these templates. It creates all the preconditions for an installation. And with that, we were really able to move the system very quickly to this new platform.

The solution automates application management to a single platform, but we're still working on it. 

Our goal is the standardization which Calm makes possible. It's important, from a strategic point of view. We would ultimately like to achieve "infrastructure-as-code" so that we can always create an environment as it initially was. It would be like Kubernetes or container-based where you can destroy something and build it again and it's like it was before. When you have a platform where you can automatically create things, you are sure that nobody will manually change something in it. It's all managed with this framework, and you are sure that when when you need to create the same system it will work, because it is all scripted. The whole "cookbook" for making that machine is there. This is also a requirement: that nobody goes on a virtual machine and installs something manually. It must be scripted with Calm. That gives you insurance that you can build the same system again. For us, that's really the future: infrastructure-as-code. 

This is also a good way for creating the same machine on the cloud, or wherever you want, and to be assured it will run because the building of the machine is in the script.

Also, the solution’s support for scripts, API, and domain specific language has reduced the IT man-hours to deploy and support applications. It's hard to estimate how much time it has saved us, but I would say around 60 percent. We are new on the Nutanix platform and we have not created a lot of the blueprints ourselves. Another company helped us to accelerate that. We went into production with it last year and we see the capabilities that Calm gives us.

Before Calm, we didn't have a specific tool for orchestration. We had some templating things, but they were spread out over various technologies. Now, we have one, centralized solution to manage all the VMs that we have. This is the strength of Nutanix, that you have one starting point where you can do everything. You have all the tools in one platform. Before, we had one tool for this process and another tool for that process. It's helping us a lot.

Calm has also enabled us to react faster to the changing needs of our business. That brings me back to the subsystem I mentioned earlier. We were thinking we would need more time to migrate it, or that we might need to create a sandbox system for testing. But with the subsystem, it was very quick. Calm helped us a lot to make it happen. 

Also, when it comes to cluster systems, we work with the open source version of Couchbase. It's very easy to create a Couchbase cluster. Similarly with Jenkins, we have blueprints for DevOps. If they need a Jenkins environment, we can easily scale out for our Jenkins workers. It really makes life easier because we have a GUI and can scale out. We can say, "Okay, we need two more slaves," and it happens. It really accelerates things.

What is most valuable?

The scripting, where you can use libraries, is a valuable feature. We don't really make the blueprints, as we have a third-party company that makes them for us. But it enables calling APIs in the blueprints. When we create a machine, we use IPAM from Infoblox and we can get an IP address. It's one platform to script and we can then use all the APIs to complete the scripts. It gives us a central management tool from which we can do a lot of things automatically.

Also, it's easy to use, overall. I'm a Linux guy, so a lot of it is familiar to me. I feel comfortable when I use it. It's not really hard or complex.

And when you have applications that can run on more than one machine, you can easily use blueprints to scale out the infrastructure. You can start with two web front-ends, a web service and then you say, "Okay, I need a third one and a fourth one." This is very easy. It's one click and you can scale it, but you must also script it. It only gives you the framework to do that. So for performance, you can use Calm to scale out and scale in.

But the Nutanix platform also helps you find out if you have some performance problems or oversized machines. But to resize it, it's more that you would use playbooks in Nutanix for that, and not Calm.

It's also a very good tool for team collaboration, but in our use case we don't use Calm for that. We are not that big. We create the machines or the application; it's not that we deploy services so that another service can deploy their machines. We are still centralized, in that sense. With Calm, you can do this: With the templates, the services that need new VMs can make their own VMs, but we do not have this requirement for now. It's only used by the IT team here, which consists of 30 people.

What needs improvement?

As I mentioned, we use now CaaS from SUSE; it's SUSE's Kubernetes. But it's now changing. They have bought Rancher and I think that CaaS will be replaced by Rancher. So currently, to manage a Kubernetes cluster we have SUSE. But with Karbon we can manage Kubernetes with Calm. But I don't don't know how much we can do with Calm there. There could be room for improvement, although I'm not entirely sure. It's on our agenda to look into Karbon in relation to Calm and what we can do with them together. I don't know how deeply they are integrated. It's not necessarily something that is wrong.

Karbon is a new product. It's been around for about two years. The integration is growing. Last year is when it started working with Calm. It's more a concept still. My wish is that it will really be supported, but I cannot say for sure.

Again, I'm not saying something is wrong here. I think it's a very good platform, but there is always room of improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Nutanix Calm since last year. We started in 2018 with a proof of concept to go to a hyper-converged platform, and then we chose Nutanix.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of Calm is very good. We have not had problems. We are enhancing our clusters now a lot because we did a proof of concept for two years and last year we went into production. We are really happy with the platform and we are really accelerating and enhancing it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are a company with 700 employees. In Nutanix's world, we are not a big player. I don't think that we are ever going to push the boundaries.

We are also using Nutanix Files cluster. We are also planning to go with Era, which is a SQL management platform on Nutanix. It's really that Nutanix is providing a platform strategy for us. We are replacing all the other virtualization infrastructure that we have with Nutanix.

How are customer service and technical support?

Nutanix technical support is great. It's very fast. In the beginning we had an issue and they were very quick. The support team from Nutanix, compared to others, is amazing. They provide help really quickly. Support is really one of Nutanix's strengths.

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

We had some templates in XenServer, but they were more a type of predefined image so that when you installed it helped start the machine. We also had Salt scripting, but we didn't have tools to manage them. We are not a big company. We had something like 500 virtual machines and we had templating tools and a lot of manual tasks. So things were semi-automated. We had images for certain applications, but when setting up the machine, we had to manually finish the setup.

One of the drivers for us to go to a hyper-converged system was that we had a 3PAR SAN which went out-of-support. So we had to make a decision about whether to buy a new SAN or to go with hyper-converged where you can grow with the need. And this became one of our preconditions. We wanted a system that does not use traditional SAN. We liked the idea of hyper-converged.

We bought a little machine and did a PoC to see how Nutanix works. We already knew it was a good platform because we had heard good things about it. When we tested it, it was very good and very fast and fulfilled all our needs. That made the decision for us, that it was the right platform. It became a part of our company strategy. 

It was a good decision for us because now we can also replicate the whole cluster to the big cloud providers. You can have a Nutanix environment on all the three of the big ones. That means that we can buy a Nutanix cluster on Azure or Amazon cloud, for example. Then we replicate our cluster to that cluster in the cloud, and then we can switch over. With Nutanix, we can easily deploy a virtual machine in the cloud, but then we are using the cloud provider's functionality. But now Amazon, Google, and Azure make it possible to rent a Nutanix cluster. So if we replicate, and an airplane crashes into our building, we can switch over to the cloud. For us, that was also a statement that we were really going with a good platform. In Switzerland, a lot of big companies are using Nutanix now, well-known companies that are going hyper-converged.

How was the initial setup?

For me, the initial setup of Calm was straightforward. It comes with Prism Central and Prism Central is a one-click installation, and then you have Calm. It's really easy. The whole Nutanix platform is really easy to manage and to update. When you have Prism Central, you have Calm already. You must buy the license for the blueprints, but it comes with Prism Central.

If you need cluster management, if you have more than one Nutanix cluster, you need Nutanix Prism Central and with Prism Central you have Calm.

Our deployment strategy is "one-at-a-time." We touch one system and make blueprints and then we go on to the next system. We migrate machines to Nutanix without a blueprint, but the goal is that—even though we have a lot of virtual machines and use cases, and this is an ongoing process—all the new projects, as well as when we touch an old project, will go over to a Calm blueprint, to make life easier. You cannot make that shift in one day.

Our overall strategy is to have Calm as a central tool to deploy virtual machines, with a requirement that nobody manually create virtual machines. There should be a blueprint first. 

There are times when it might not make sense, if you need just one machine for a particular use. It could be more work to make the blueprint. But I think it's worth making even these little machines as a blueprint, so that you can always create this machine everywhere, including the cloud, without documentation. And that's another point. As you know, when you write documentation, as soon as you're finished it's already old because things are changing.

What was our ROI?

We are still building our infrastructure, so it's early for us to look at return on investment. But there will be a return on our investment because we are not buying another SAN. We have saved a lot of money, because the SAN system is very expensive and also requires very expensive switches. So we are definitely ahead there.

Also, we had a lot of XenServers on hosts, and going with Nutanix allowed us to reduce the number of hosts. The new system is very performant and we don't need as much hardware to get the same performance.

In addition, although it has nothing to do with Calm, Nutanix helps by giving us a good overview of what is oversized or undersized. We can look at it and see, "Oh, this machine may be underused or overused," and we can free up resources. This is also an ongoing process. We see that a lot of machines are oversized and we can make them smaller. We save resources for other machines that way. But that part is Nutanix itself, through Prism Central.

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

Calm comes with Prism Central but you enable features by buying the license for them. You buy by the blueprint, how many blueprints you need to manage.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at HPE. We compared Nutanix with that solution. We decided then to go for Nutanix and do a proof of concept. The HPE solution was more limited in the nodes it could handle.

We work really closely with HPE. All our servers are from HPE. So HPE proposed a solution to us, But when we compared it by doing a SWOT analysis, part of our consideration was that Nutanix is a newer platform. It empowers a lot of things. It's a different technology.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is "use it." To use Calm, the precondition is that you have Nutanix. To me it doesn't make sense to have Nutanix on-premise and then not use Calm. Then you would have to use SaltStack or Chef or whatever other management software exists for managing virtual machines or physical machines. If you go with Nutanix, it makes really sense to use Calm.

SaltStack and Ansible are also good, but it doesn't make sense to use them when you have Calm. With Nutanix you have one platform where you can manage everything. Calm gives you a lot of possibilities because you can script and easily integrate and control the whole Nutanix cluster with APIs. And you can easily integrate other services because you have the ability to call Python scripts very easily.

For us, it was very easy because we didn't have a lot of existing scripts. Other companies that have a lot of Salt scripts or a lot of Ansible scripts have to recreate them in some way. So we were in a good situation.

We now have 14 blueprint templates, and still growing. We are coming from the Citrix XenServer platform. We are not automatically creating a blueprint. It's ongoing. We had a lot of virtual machines on the Xen platform, and we have moved them over, but we don't automatically have a blueprint when we do. You must create the blueprints. We do them one-by-one. When we touch a system again, we create the blueprint for it. That way we can scale out, scale in, and make test systems.

There is a template for creating a machine, and then you manage that machine with this template. But when you have machines from another platform, like the XenServer virtualization platform, you can move it over, because Nutanix is also a virtualization platform for running VMs. But then you don't automatically have a blueprint, so you have to start a new project to make these blueprints. The strategy is that we will have all the code for our infrastructure so that we can build all our system out of blueprints.

I cannot say Calm is providing centralized control of all our applications because we have some legacy systems. We have IBM iSeries, which is another technology. But with Calm we can centralize all our x86 machines.

It's still early time and there is room for improvement. I give Calm a nine out of 10. I cannot give it a 10 because other platforms are also really good. Ansible and SaltStack are also powerful. It's more an issue of strategy and the fact that it is very easy to use. It's not a complex tool. They make it easy to use. Other frameworks are more complex to use, but may also be more powerful. But for our purposes, it fits exactly what we need. We haven't been blocked from doing anything we need to do with Calm. We haven't had any showstoppers.

Compared with other tools, Calm is newer and the scope of what you can do with it is still growing. They improve things. They make it easier to handle.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Learn what your peers think about Nutanix Calm. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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Sudarshan Shrinivasan
Leader of Environments and Automation at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Runbook automation makes it easy to do many operational tasks with one click, but version control management needs enhancement

Pros and Cons

  • "The blueprints and templates are very nice and easy to use. They are very valuable because we can configure the entirety of an environment as a template and reuse it multiple times."
  • "One thing that comes directly to mind is how they manage version control. I would love to see Calm create a built-in source control feature, one that we could tie into a repository and it would self-manage changes in versions. All the version control is built within Calm right now. I would love to see that integrated with an external repository and make it easy to tie it into GitHub or Git repositories."

What is our primary use case?

We are currently using Calm to automate our infrastructure and platform provisioning, including going into infrastructure-as-code, standing up environments, and triggering deployment processes.

We aren't looking for it to automate application management to a single platform because we are spread across Azure Pipelines and Octopus Deploy and multiple methods of automating our application deployments. In the last year, we have standardized what we are doing with Calm in terms of infrastructure automation. We haven't stepped into application life cycle management with Calm. We are mostly focusing on leveraging Calm as our platform and infrastructure provisioning orchestrator.

It is based on-premises on our Nutanix cluster.

How has it helped my organization?

The Runbook automation makes it easy because we can do a lot of operational tasks in a single click. Our hope in the future is that we can tie it into our AI operation software, wherein these runbooks can be called through APIs and that it can lead us to self-healing. But it really helps us in reducing manual intervention and manual effort in operations. We've just been proving it out in certain cases and it looks very promising. We haven't set it up fully and gone to the extent of fully automating all of our operations yet.

The beauty of Calm is that although it's built into Nutanix, it is not just for automating what's in Nutanix. We've also used Calm to trigger API calls to external systems and services, to orchestrate other automation. For example, we use F5 for load balancing. Using Calm, we are able to call APIs on F5 to configure load balancing for our applications. And from Calm we are also able to trigger Octopus Deploy, which we use for deployment automation processes. Overall, we are able to configure and trigger other orchestration or automation tools from within Calm. It creates a line, nicely.

We also use Calm with Azure DevOps, which is our central orchestrator. That is where we have our CI/CD pipeline. Azure Pipelines in Azure DevOps, triggers Calm for environment provisioning and then comes back and executes test automations within Azure DevOps pipeline.

Using them together absolutely helps speed up the integration and delivery of applications in two specific ways. One, as I said, is that we were able to pull in Calm and tie it into our existing pipeline. We did not have to retrofit or build pipelines from scratch just for Calm. It naturally fit into our pipelines. The second way is that we also use Azure DevOps as our source control and repository tool. We are able to store infrastructure configurations as code inside Azure DevOps and Git repositories. When Azure DevOps triggers Calm, we are able to pull configurations from the source repository and pass it on to Calm, so that our provisioning is truly from the configurations that are stored in the source repository. We are able to really perform infrastructure as code.

As an example, we recently had to stand up an environment for a new project and we were able to do that in under two weeks, including deploy and deliver. In the past, that same project would have taken two or two and a half months. And after completing that initial end-to-end process in two weeks, we can just clone and replicate it multiple times. So there was the initial decrease in deployment time, and then, depending on how many times we replicate that environment, we are gaining more and more savings.

We also make use of the solution’s support for scripts and API. The initial hours of setting them up created additional overhead, but once that was done, because of how well it works with APIs and scripts, it definitely reduced manual effort, over time. Say we spent 10 hours setting up a script or an API call. Every single time that particular application is deployed, if that script saves us one hour, we have to deploy it only 10 times to start getting a return on investment. We deploy many of our applications many times, so our savings are exponential.

What is most valuable?

The blueprints and templates are very nice and easy to use. They are very valuable because we can configure the entirety of an environment as a template and reuse it multiple times. In our delivery process, we have multiple environments going all the way to production, including dev, test, staging, and performance environments. We have to stand up the same environment again and again, before taking it all the way to production. Having a template, which is fully configurable through parameters, is really useful. And now that we have those templates and we can stand them up fairly easily, we are also able to decommission an environment when we don't need it because we can, again, click a button and stand it up fairly easily and it becomes a standard process.

What needs improvement?

One thing that comes directly to mind is how they manage version control. I would love to see Calm create a built-in source control feature, one that we could tie into a repository and it would self-manage changes in versions. All the version control is built within Calm right now. I would love to see that integrated with an external repository and make it easy to tie it into GitHub or Git repositories.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Nutanix Calm since early 2020, which makes it a little over a year now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had issues with bugs or version mismatches, more so because Calm is part of the bigger Nutanix ecosystem. If someone upgrades AOS on one side, there can be a mismatch with the version of Calm we have. Nutanix has this huge ecosystem and Calm is just a virtual layer working with Prism and AHV underneath.

This past week, we had a bug. After working with Nutanix support we figured out that we had to upgrade AOS to get rid of the bug.

Overall, Calm has been solid at what it does. We are early in the intake process. We are not fully mature with Calm. When it comes to issues and bugs, there is a solid path of escalation and we get good support. We feel comfortable where we are right now and we also feel Calm has been solid in what we have been able to achieve so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's a great technology and it's part of the larger ecosystem which scales really real. Because of how it is tied into the Nutanix ecosystem, I am confident that scalability, and maintainability, will be very easy and smooth in the long term.

How are customer service and technical support?

A lot of our technical support comes directly through our technology partner, Reliant, whose consultants are certified by Nutanix. Reliant will work with someone from Nutanix professional services, and that person from Nutanix has been working with us over the past two years during our journey.

When we have to go beyond them and raise a support ticket with Nutanix support, they have been very good as well. Their overall engagement model is good, and we have multiple ways of reaching out and getting support.

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

For infrastructure automation, we had no solution. In the past, one of our teams had tried vRA on top of VMware to try to achieve automation, but it wasn't quite successful. Up until Nutanix, we had no automation, other than a little bit of automation to assist a group of individuals writing a PowerShell script. We never had this level of focused, end-to-end automation.

The reason we picked Calm is that it's tied into the Nutanix ecosystem. We are leveraging everything that comes out-of-the-box from Nutanix as a solution, to take full advantage of the full capabilities of the ecosystem.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up the Calm module and getting it running was pretty straightforward. We got that done in under two hours. 

But if we are talking about setting up something within Calm, like a blueprint or a runbook, if someone is completely new to Calm it takes about two to three weeks to get used to it and to set everything up. After that, it becomes very easy.

Calm has an initial learning curve to get used to the modules and how Calm ties into the rest of the Nutanix ecosystem. Once we got through that initial learning curve, it became fairly simple. We have a choice of either using PowerShell or Python to do our custom scripting and the UI itself is intuitive enough. My team of sys admins and automation specialists took about two weeks to get used to it, before they could start making good use of it. And anyone new who starts to use it takes an initial two to three weeks period to really understand the implementations. From there on, it's just organic growth and knowledge.

When we brought in Calm we were going through a full infrastructure modernization project which included bringing in Nutanix and all of its components. We had professional services from Nutanix take us through all of this, and we had a plan upfront. Calm was coming in as part of the whole Nutanix ecosystem. The Nutanix professionals helped to the point that we just had to install the modules, enable access, and we were done.

In terms of our staff involved in the deployment, the entire team was consulted and informed, but there was just one person required. Because it's on our servers, Nutanix professional services needed one person from our side in system administration to give them the necessary access and to work with them in setting it up. 

We don't maintain a lot so that doesn't require much staff time for it. There are regular updates but they aren't too frequent. It probably takes one person about half an hour in a week to maintain, which is very negligible. We are going through a huge intake process right now and that means most of the effort involved is in getting everything automated. There's very little maintenance effort.

We have five or six individuals trained and using it actively. We plan to get up to 15 individuals trained and actively developing blueprints and runbooks in Calm. When it comes to consumption, I'm hoping we can get up to 50 users using the self-service feature in the next year. From there, we'll have to see how much more we can expand.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with Nutanix professional services, but we assigned this whole project to Reliant, our technology partner. Reliant, in turn, engaged Nutanix professional services. We had technology consultants from both Reliant and Nutanix helping us on this.

Reliant has been a really good partner. They've done most of the heavy lifting in getting Nutanix in and setting it up. It's a strategic partnership and it has worked really well for us.

What was our ROI?

We haven't calculated any kind of ROI number. Anecdotally, there are two spaces where we expect to be seeing ROI. One is on the provisioning side, because everything will be automated and that will result in a lot of reduction in manual efforts. There will also be a lot of reduction in the overhead costs of the ticketing process and assigning of tickets.

The other main area should be that, because we can spin up and spin down platforms and infrastructure on-the-fly, there will be a reduction in the load we have in terms of static environments, meaning things that were stood up but never decommissioned.

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

The pricing is fair. We got a really good price to start with. We'll have to see over the years how it turns out.

In terms of additional costs to their standard licensing fees, there's the effort involved in training and upskilling employees to be able to use Calm. That's an indirect cost. Regardless of what new technology we would bring in, we would have to pay that cost. That cost has been minimal. The Nutanix University helps a lot as it has a lot of training programs, and the software itself is intuitive enough. The cost is well worth it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were a couple of solutions we are looking at, and we are even evaluating some right now. In the past, we looked at vRA, because we were on VMware, but from the time we switched to Nutanix, we focused heavily on Calm, especially because it comes out-of-the-box from Nutanix.

vRA and Calm are apples and oranges because they have different underlying technologies and different ways of handling automation. I don't think it would be a fair comparison. We didn't really put any effort into trying to compare them.

What other advice do I have?

Anyone who is looking to implement Calm has to sit down and put forward a vision. If they're just blindly thinking, "Here's an automation solution. We'll bring it in and it will magically solve all our problems," that is not true. It requires some amount of initial design thinking. We actually went through a workshop. We specifically sat down and said, "Here's what Calm is offering us and here's how we will fit it into the existing pipelines in our ecosystem. We were very clear, in those initial few months, about what we were trying to achieve. That really helped us in the long run.

There are two things we have learned in this entire process. One is to look at the software and figure out what gap it fills, rather than trying to make one tool solve all of our problems. We were very cognizant of that from the beginning and it has worked out nicely. The second thing is that while we have focused heavily on one particular use case to make it production-ready, we have not invested enough time in exploring more of what Calm does. We know blueprints and automation, and we know runbooks, but we haven't fully explored everything that's available. We'll have to put more effort into exploring it further.

We are currently using the solution's one-click self-service feature in a proof of concept. We are looking to create marketplace items to start using it more. We expect it will help simplify our operations. Once we give that one-click to our end users, they won't have to create a service desk ticket, and that ticket won't have to go through different processes and then reach the tech team so that it can stand something up. If the end-user needs something they will be able to click a button to get their environment and it will be done in 10 minutes. That would be in place of logging a ticket, that ticket going to the service desk, the service desk figuring out which team to assign it to, that particular team prioritizing it, and then actually doing the work. It could be that the work, even if done manually, would only take one hour, but the entire process could take a week or two weeks.

Every organization will have its own set of tools. It has been interesting to see how Calm fits into ours. I don't believe there is a single solution that will solve all of the problems, but the way we have leveraged Calm is to make good use of its abilities to fill gaps inside of our automation ecosystem. It required an initial vision and design for how we were going to fit Calm into our pipeline. It did a really nice job of fitting into our ecosystem. We did not have to go out of our way to redo or reinvent the wheel to get Calm to work in our environment. It nicely fit into our existing pipeline where there were gaps. That is where I rate Calm highly because it's very flexible enough to fit into an existing ecosystem. 

If we had no existing tools—if we did not have Azure DevOps and Octopus Deploy or anything else—and we just had Calm, I don't think that Calm would be able to solve all of the problems. We would have to look for additional tools to fill gaps. In our case, it worked well because we had tools that were already doing a good job, but there were gaps. Calm came in and filled all those gaps. It has acted as a single orchestrator and it is able to orchestrate multiple other orchestrators. It has tied everything together.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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Kevin Mortimer
Head Of Operations at University of Reading
Real User
Top 5
one-click self-service means users can serve themselves resources without IT; they have the power in their hands

Pros and Cons

  • "The fact that these are non-technical people — they're experts in their fields but they're definitely not technical — and they can just log in to the portal and select the resource that they believe they need, and manage it themselves, speaks to the ease of use. It shows them their live costs, etc., as they're spending. The fact that they can do that without any problems, or having to engage the IT teams, is a true testament to it. There's no need for any user training at all."
  • "Even though it's a lot easier, it could be a bit slicker for the end-users. The ability to create their own blueprints could be without their having to understand the details of what they're trying to do. If they could just tick this, this, this, and this — whatever they need — and it would go spinning those up, that would be better. Now, we still guide them quite a bit."

What is our primary use case?

We wanted to find a way to start getting our academics used to paying for compute without having to actually pay, but still to do it for real in the cloud. We use the self-service portal within Nutanix for them to deposit some funds, which is a cost charge, not a credit card, and then we say, "Okay, based on that, you have bought X amount of CPUs, Y amount of memory, and Z amount of storage." They can then go in and say, "Okay, well, I know I've got a pool of 10 BCPs for a month. I want to spin up three of them to process this data, which I'll then tear down afterwards."

We use it for our neurological psychology department where they do a lot of brain scans. They want to upload them to a place where they can compute the output of those scans and then they want to tear down their compute afterwards, because they don't need to be running all the time. 

Another area uses it for looking at weather data, which is typically quite a large amount of data. They only need to process once and then they can destroy it because they don't need to look at it again, once they've done analytics on it. 

Those are our typical use cases: to allow our research areas to spin up their resources against a pricing model that they've secured funding for, and not have to engage the IT teams to provide the resources for them. It also allows them not to go beyond their budgets and stay within predefined lanes.

We have it on-premise. We built our own private cloud and we host it on there for our academics to consume and spin up their own resources. We know that we could burst up to Azure, AWS, and GCP, but we don't. We keep it all within our private cloud at the moment.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives the end-users control of what they need. If they have requested a VM with two VCPUs but they actually need four, they have the ability to go in and do that themselves, from the same pool of resources that they've been allocated. It gives them the complete flexibility to do it themselves. If they're working remotely and they access the cluster from, say, Australia on the opposite side of the world from us, to use an extreme example, and they want to do stuff overnight, they don't have to wait for IT to wake up eight o'clock in the morning, or even later. They can do it at whatever time is relevant to them locally.

It's helped us in terms of ease of compliance and simplicity for the researchers in governing their research grants. The grants are usually very strict regarding how money can be spent, to make sure there's no waste allowed and to get the best value out of the grants. Rather than having to spend thousands on something they may only need for very small periods in a month or a year, it allows them to do more research than they could necessarily afford to do if they had to buy the hardware. It really gives them that agility. The capital that the researchers would have had to spend on hardware, to achieve this, is now all part of a central service using hardware that we've already procured.

In addition, because it does allow the end-users to look after their compute themselves, it means that they can work on things together. They don't have to put a request into IT for them to spin up the resource for them. They can dip in, spin it up, and use it straight away, so if they're actually working very closely with somebody, they don't have to wait for IT. That means the collaboration window is going to be a lot slicker. The actual activity can be done at the time it's needed, rather than having to plan way in advance or slow it down because they need some resource and they haven't got the ability to use it. The ultimate message is that they have the power in their hands, which means the collaboration becomes more fluid because they don't need to wait on IT to give them services.

Nutanix Calm's one-click self-service feature means that we don't have to look after it. The end-users can, as I said, serve themselves so they can set the blueprint and spin up some resources. They don't need to wait for IT, which means that we, in IT, can actually focus on adding value by making sure that the clusters are healthy and by looking to help them with some of their requirements. IT doesn't have to be the "organ grinder" and turn that key to keep giving them resources that they need. Because they have that basic control, we can provide them more value.

It allows the research to happen a lot faster, for the researchers to do the work that they need to do and then tear it down. It certainly does support a much faster turnaround time. Typically, in the past, we would allocate up to a week to provide them with a complete resource, depending on what the requirements were and if we had them available or not. With this, it allows them to do it themselves within a matter of minutes. The speed at which they can do research is now a lot greater.

The solution has enabled us to react faster to the changing needs of the organization, absolutely. That's the main incentive.

What is most valuable?

One of the valuable features for us is the ability for people to reserve some resources and then use them as and when they need them, rather than us having to give them those resources as they request them. It's very much aligned things to a cloud mindset before letting them loose with an actual credit card.

The fact that these are non-technical people — they're experts in their fields but they're definitely not technical — and they can just log in to the portal and select the resource that they believe they need, and manage it themselves, speaks to the ease of use. It shows them their live costs, etc., as they're spending. The fact that they can do that without any problems, or having to engage the IT teams, is a true testament to it. There's no need for any user training at all. It wasn't overly easy back in the early days of Calm to use it. It was a bit "hacky" in terms of the way you had to build the blueprints, but now it's a lot easier to use. It's a very "light touch" IT solution for an IT service that we provide.

What needs improvement?

Even though it's a lot easier, it could be a bit slicker for the end-users. The ability to create their own blueprints could be without their having to understand the details of what they're trying to do. If they could just tick this, this, this, and this — whatever they need — and it would go spinning those up, that would be better. Now, we still guide them quite a bit.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Nutanix Calm for about two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any problems. In two years it's never gone down. Every time we patch it, it patches seamlessly. We've never had any problems with it and we've never had to do anything to try to resolve any problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Because it's all based at Nutanix, it's really easy to scale it out. We have increased our capacity on our platform a number of times, and it seamlessly rebalances the clusters as it needs to.

It's purely our researchers who are using it. We don't use it ourselves, as an IT department. We have capacity for 100 active VMs at any time and there are about 300 academics in the department who have access to use it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't used Nutanix technical support for this solution. We have used it for other products, but Calm looks after itself. We have not had any problems with it at all.

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

We didn't have a previous product. We would do it ourselves, which was part of the challenge for us because we couldn't deliver at the speed at which they wanted us to deliver. The researchers were going off and trying to do it themselves within public cloud, and therefore spending and wasting a lot of money which they could have spent in better ways.

We moved to Calm to make it more efficient for the academics. It would give them a bit more power and control, and ultimately we want to be a lot more cloud-orientated. To achieve that, there needs to be a degree of governance. If they are used to that governance in how they operate, then migrating them to a public cloud piece should be easier. They will  be used to being sensible with when their resources are turned on or not.

How was the initial setup?

Everything is very straightforward to set up. It's as few clicks as possible, which works very nicely.

Our deployment was done within about a day. That was two years so it would be hard to put a more specific time on it. It was also a very different product then, as compared to now.

In terms of an implementation strategy, we essentially got the solution because we wanted to help some of the areas that were complaining about our speed of delivery. We only really offered it to those areas. But we've now gone full circle and just committed to some more Calm licenses to grow our capability because of the speed of delivery it gives to our researchers. That's especially true with their being remote. They can then do it all themselves and don't have to engage with IT to help them spin things up. In the past, they just knocked on the door and got some support from the computing team. With people working remotely now, that's obviously a lot harder. It allows us to achieve remote work.

As for maintenance, It's part of the wider stack. When there's an update, we will roll that out. But it's all pretty much one click and away you go. You come back a little bit later and it's done.

What about the implementation team?

We did it ourselves, based on the guidance that they provided to us.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen ROI. It doesn't cost us very much and it makes our academic flows a lot easier and we don't get complaints anymore about not being responsive to their needs.

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

I can't really comment on pricing because, being in the public sector, we get different pricing to what is out there in the world.

But in terms of approach, size it on what your minimum would need to be and then add additional licensing as you need it, rather than trying to go too big, too quickly. The whole point of Nutanix software is that you can grow and size the estate, rather than going instantly to a monolithic solution from day one.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't look at other solutions. We already had Nutanix to provide some research compute for other things, so we went with Calm in addition to the suite that we had at the time.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson I've learned using this solution is how easy it is to empower users to achieve what they need to achieve. Without this, it would be very hard to build the trust up and allow our academics to do what they need to do.

In our case, Calm doesn't help us to implement standardization across our organization because the research is usually quite specific. The types of VMs that they would spin up would all be slightly different. Some might have much bigger storage requirements, some might have higher RAM requirements, and some might need to be quite low compute but for longer periods. It does tend to vary quite a lot. But on the flip side, it allows them to all work the same way so they're not going off and burning money in public cloud environments.

When we first got it, it probably would have been a five out of 10 because it wasn't the easiest to build the initial blueprints. Now, we're certainly up to an eight. There's always room for improvement with something like this.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Steffen Hornung
Administrator at Neuberger Gebäudeautomation GmbH
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Previously written scripts can be checked in a library and be reused for other blueprints

Pros and Cons

  • "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."
  • "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."

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
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Fabian Spoorendonk
Tech Lead Platform Services | Infrastructure Consultant at Vopak
Consultant
Top 20
Enables us to react faster to changing needs of business by significantly decreasing machine delivery time

Pros and Cons

  • "I really like the Nutanix Marketplace a lot. We publish standard workloads there and that, in combination with the Projects, allows for self-service, which is the most powerful feature of Calm."
  • "There is room for improvement in the remote script execution. The way logs are shown in Calm, it's not always keeping up properly. It's really the interface that needs attention there. I believe it is something being worked on at the moment by Nutanix."

What is our primary use case?

We use Calm as an automation engine for deployment of the cluster software over our network. We are also using it to deploy standardized workloads on the Nutanix clusters.

We also use it to create a "self-service shop," where we can select to deploy standardized workloads and choose a certain profile for a particular server, and the Calm engine will integrate with other solutions like our IP database and CDB. Everything is fully automated.

In addition to standardized workloads, we also can say, "Give us a generic virtual machine."

How has it helped my organization?

It really drives up our speed tremendously for getting workloads to the customer as soon as possible. Previously, it took a few weeks to get a virtual machine in place, including deploying the virtual machine and getting the administrative parts in order for it. That process takes a matter of minutes now, if the prerequisites are in place on the networking layer. Our delivery time is incomparably faster than what it was. We're mainly providing platforms to other application teams, and it greatly helps those teams to have a virtual machine in place. Indirectly, it will ultimately help us develop and deploy applications faster.

Calm has also enabled us to react faster to the changing needs of our business, with the significant decrease in the delivery time of certain machines.

What is most valuable?

I really like the Nutanix Marketplace a lot. We publish standard workloads there and that, in combination with the Projects, allows for self-service, which is the most powerful feature of Calm.

Also, the ease of use when building new applications and offering them in the marketplace is the most elegant feature of Calm.

It also works very well when it comes to optimizing capacity and performance. It allows you to have a framework where it is very easy to automate in a standardized way and provides you the boundaries for standardizing automation. It really helps to unify the way a team works. Calm's abilities when it comes to team collaboration are great. All the workloads are deployed in a standardized manner, and administered that way as well. This is the first time we have been able to do workloads for the machines in a standardized manner. Currently, we are expanding a lot, with a lot of new virtual machines. So if we don't focus on standardization, it will become really hard to manage with a small team. Standardization and automation are very important for enabling us to keep up with the growing infrastructure.

We also use Nutanix Prism Pro and it provides us with insights into application-related infrastructure to a certain extent. But in reality, we haven't done a lot with it yet. The dashboarding is certainly elegant, but we're not utilizing the clusters a lot yet, so it hasn't been very necessary to work with it. Second-day operations are something that we're working on. The deployment is not done and transitioning to operations is in progress.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in the remote script execution. The way logs are shown in Calm, it's not always keeping up properly. It's really the interface that needs attention there. I believe it is something being worked on at the moment by Nutanix.

Also, the integrated scripting language, which is a very limited form of Python, should be improved. It should be made into a more modern version of Python, and maybe other languages as well. 

I would also like to see an improved ability to integrate with APIs.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Nutanix Calm for about a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has great stability. We haven't experienced issues with stability with the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, it just works. It has high availability, and we haven't run into any issues where we have needed to scale up.

We have Nutanix clusters located in at least half of our Vopak locations. This year we rolled out the Nutanix platform to 30 locations and, in the next year, 30 additional locations will follow. Currently, the six users of the solution are involved in infrastructure development on the DevOps team. Those are the people who are building on top of Calm.

How are customer service and support?

In general, Nutanix support is great. They're responsive and skillful. We're really pleased with them.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We did not have a previous solution. Calm was a brand-new implementation for us.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of Calm was straightforward. It was just a matter of enabling the product, and that process is very well worked out by Nutanix. Our deployment was done within an hour. It was very fast.

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

You will see great value from it if you utilize the self-service part of Calm. The price you pay for it will only give you equal value if you use the self-service part to enable other teams. If you only use it as a deployment mechanism, I think it's rather expensive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not really look at other solutions. We chose the hypervisor platform, and Calm came with it. We also looked at VMware as a hypervisor platform, but we chose Nutanix and therefore we went for Calm as well.

Nutanix excels in making something that is very complex into something that is very simple. It's really easy to work with, and the time it takes to get familiar with the product, for an engineer, is way less than with the competitor's platform.

What other advice do I have?

It's very important to think ahead about what your automation strategy will look like. You should really think about creating reusable components and also have good source control and a CI/CD strategy. If you start building without thinking about these things, you will have to do a lot of rework and re-engineering to be able to scale up.

In terms of Calm unifying container and virtual machine automation and orchestration in a single orchestration platform, we're not doing containers yet, only tenants. But in the future, I expect it will do so because our next step we'll be looking into container workloads. But that's not where we are for now at Vopak. Similarly, we haven't used Calm’s AIOps and automation capabilities.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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OM
System Engineer at a non-tech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Helps us react faster to changing business needs by deploying a server with just a few clicks

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution's support for scripts... has reduced the man-hours it takes to deploy and support applications because we don't have to rewrite all the scripts."
  • "There is room for improvement in making the solution easier still. If you don't know Calm, it's not so easy to use... It is a really good solution for doing simple tasks, but it's not a good solution for complex tasks."

What is our primary use case?

We are using Calm to deploy a new server. We have four blueprints: the first one is to bring the network; the second one is to configure the elements; the third and the fourth ones are for deploying new servers.

How has it helped my organization?

We save a lot of time with Calm. It has enabled our company to develop and deploy applications faster and it has reduced the time it takes us to QA applications. In addition, the solution's support for scripts, API, and domain specific language, has reduced the man-hours it takes to deploy and support applications because we don't have to rewrite all the scripts.

It also helps us react faster to the changing needs of our business because we can deploy another server easily, with just a few clicks.

Also, all of the deployments are exactly the same. We have exactly the same clusters deployed in each of our environments. 

The time savings and uniformity are the two main advantages for us.

What is most valuable?

We use the solution's support for scripts, API, and domain specific language.

What needs improvement?

There is room for improvement in making the solution easier still. If you don't know Calm, it's not so easy to use. Blueprint repositories are not all in the same place. Sometimes they are in the Marketplace, sometimes they are on the cluster. And from start to finish, it's not so easy to create a blueprint.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Nutanix Calm since January of 2019, so well over a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability, now, is okay, but in the past it was awful, due to both our environment and the solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support for Calm is really excellent.

How was the initial setup?

To me, the initial setup was complex. The way we are using it, it was not easy to do what we need to do. The deployment took us about two hours.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator, SCC, for the deployment. Our experience with them was quite good.

What other advice do I have?

For standard use it is quite easy to use, but for more complex tasks it's definitely more complex to use. An example of a simple task is deploying a new server, while a complex task would be configuring a bucket or another repository. Overall, it's easy to use.

You need to have a clear idea of what you are doing before creating blueprints in Calm. It is a really good solution for doing simple tasks, but it's not a good solution for complex tasks. But it can definitely save you a lot of time.

In terms of the solution's abilities when it comes to team collaboration, our team is really small; we are three people. It's quite easy for us to communicate and to tell each other what we are doing.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.