I am looking to compare Nutanix and VMware vSAN. Which one is better in terms of functionality and management?


Which is better in terms of functionality and management? 

ITCS user
4040 Answers

author avatar

I been using VMware for long time and they have a very robust product that for quite some time. We used vSan to consolidate some low budget storage in order to maximize their use however, We switched to Nutanix seeking performance, flexibility to use both SSD and HDD, Licensing savings and of course one of your questions, the usability and simplicity.

After a year, I do recommend Nutanix because is simple to use (management and processing tasks are far more easy, fast and clean than VMware) , performance and the ability to select which kind of disk I wanted to run my VMs.

Nutanix storage show you a single container for all vms that has the capability of managing I/O loads and prioritize them across disks. In terms of expansion of resources, just adding a new host or storage node will expand the cluster easily. In the case you use DELL XPS server, you can add Disks to each node to expand storage without adding new host (If you have the physical space of course).

Nutanix user interface is clean, already tested in all browsers and their support is fast with a few clicks you can almost do everything. Really fast interface response.

Replication and protection is built in with consistent snapshots and also it has real-time statistics of the health, network, protection and hardware in the same management console. Basically you do everything in the same place.

Migration in Nutanix was a snap, easy and without complications, they had a tool that help schedule migrations without user input that connects to VMWare and migrate and translate all VM needs into the new system.

I use the VMware Client completely because the interaction everyday, I found the Web version not as fast or responsive than the old client and also managing storage between the cluster sometimes get messy, compatibility issues, orphaned snapshots, even sometimes if a host failed, the vCenter Appliance does not respond well restoring the cluster HA sometimes and needed to disconnect, reconnect the hosts in order to make it work.

I do not tested simplivity but I did use this link because I liked how they evaluate each solution:
>> http://www.datacenterzombie.com/hyper-converged-infrastructure-comparison/

I recommend to specifically look at the upgrades section. I already did various 1-click upgrades without production interruption in my Nutanix Clusters in comparison of VMware with HPE where I need to upgrade SAN firmware to fix performance issues and I need to take all the cluster down to perform it and I rather prefer to let HP support (that of course has costs involved) to do it in case something go wrong.

Another good information source ( see Figure 1. HCIS Key Feature Comparison)

>> https://www.storagenewsletter.com/2015/07/08/hyperconverged-infrastructure-solutions-simplifies-midmarket-data-center-gartner/

We been with HP for more than 15 years and we switched to Nutanix hardware because instead of purchasing hardware, Hypervisor software and upgrades, monitoring and alerting software, backup software, basically we got it all from Nutanix tested, built in and ready for function in no time.

This of course is my opinion while using both platforms while I finish the migration of very old databases to the new Nutanix system.

Hope this information helps you.

author avatar

Please see response below from Shane Hill, PMP Arrow SI Practice Manager, Data Center Infrastructure

vSAN was not originally designed to be a replacement for Enterprise storage systems. It was originally designed as a low cost alternative to them for Small Office Branch Office. It then got dragged kicking and screaming into today because of companies like Nutanix as competition. Even with vSAN R6.6, it’s still got some glaring misses.

* Restricted write buffer size
* Maxiumum number of nodes
* Long rebuild time
* Deduplication/compression/erasure coding are only available with All-Flash
* No data locality
* Only available with ESXi
* Datastores/Disk Groups don’t survive an SSD failure in a hybrid system
* You can’t pin a VM to flash

As far as management goes, Nutanix kills vSAN hands down. In my opinion for 1 big reason. The rest are just icing on the cake. The big reason is one-click upgrades. I can upgrade all the nodes in a cluster by logging into the PRISM interface, choosing upgrade button, hitting download latest button, and hitting upgrade. That’s it. It will do a rolling upgrade of the Nutanix software with zero downtime. Upgrades of the bios, firmware and even ESXi(if you are using it) are done similarly. I upgraded the Nutanix clusters at a major health insurance company during business hours last week. That was 13 nodes in the primary cluster and 12 nodes in their DR cluster during the day without downtime. Now, doing hypervisor upgrades is a little different in that you still have to move the VM’s as each upgrades.

Other things that I love about nutanix.

* Native backup to AWS or Azure
* Self Service Portal- allow a non technical user to deploy a VM. You can even script the SSP to authenticate with Service Now and allow a VM to be created from a Service Now template ticket. That is slick!
* One pane of glass. All management for the AHV hypervisor and the cluster are done from within PRISM. There is even an integration to vCenter so from within the PRISM interface I can do 90% of VM management of ESXi VMs. IE, stop, start, console, edit, etc.
* Integrated tools to allow migration from ESXi to AHV while the cluster is running.
* Can run File Services natively and manage it from within PRISM
* Publish iSCSI block storage to VMs AND bare metal servers outside the cluster. I love this. We use this a lot.

author avatar

This question obviously does not have a definite answer. Both products are indeed mature.

It always depends on customer's environment, skill sets, and strategy for the future.

For a VMware centric environment, vSAN brings a huge simplicity, specially if you choose the integrated Appliance format (VxRail) - never need to look at HCL's, worry with upgrades or regarding the infra structure lifecycle. The fact vSAN is built-in on vSphere's kernel makes a huge difference. It is amazingly resilient and has an awesome performance.

For an environment with a multiple hypervisor strategy, Nutanix brings many advanced features. I know many happy customers. But if you choose this route, make sure you pick a good vendor because the hardware that serve as the building block for the SDS layer is very important. Despite it does not have features tied to the hardware, it can cause serious issues if not correctly designed. Another very important point is the support. Make sure you pick a vendor that can support with an Enterprise level. With that said, Dell EMC XC is the best option.

Using an holistic view, it is important to partner with someone with a large portfolio ( not a single product ), so you will not be forced to solve all your challenges for all workloads with a single product or solution. There is no silver bullet. No magic pill.

author avatar
Real User

Definitely Nutanix due to it’s scalability technology and the architecture.

author avatar

With VMware, you have flexibility of choosing your own hardware vendor. VSAN is having lot of new features in the new release. If you prefer NSX then again VSAN.
If you need multi hypervisor environment, then Nutanix.

It is better refer the blogs for detailed comparison before any one take a call.

author avatar

Nutanix wins.. hands down.
The biggest differences are in the control plane and the underlying architecture, i.e; how each solution writes to disk. Nutanix has data locality, meaning that the OS automatically creates a copy and constantly manages storage across the cluster for optimum performance and efficiency over time. The Nutanix file system is MUCH more stable. VSAN has an In-Kernel Architecture which means you have to touch every node and reboot each node to do an upgrade of VSAN software. VSAN is also limited in the number of nodes it can scale to in a cluster, and is known to have performance issues scaling in an enterprise environment. Ask VMWare for references, and I think you will find this opinion is accurate.

The Nutanix PRISM management console radically simplifies the experience of managing multiple cloud environments with this one tool. CALM, a component inside Prism,
gives Nutanix customers the ability to abstract the cloud infrastructure from the application... No matter the cloud (AWS, Google, Azure, Private or Distributed).
It's next level technology providing flexibility to run the application where it makes the most sense for the business.

Nutanix does not tie you down to one vendor in terms of hardware. Quite the contrary.. Nutanix can be purchased as software only to work on Cisco, HPE and it can also be purchased as an appliance from Dell, Lenovo, Crystal as well as Nutanix HW. It can even be purchased as an appliance from IBM with the power chip.

One last thing..
Nutanix does NOT lock you into VMware's ESXi hypervisor. VSAN only works with VMware.
Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) is included with each node and it's enterprise grade.
Over 20% of Nutanix customers are dumping VMware and moving to AHV software.
Nutanix is all about customer choice and allows it's users to pick the hypervisor that suits them best, supporting VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, KVM or AHV.

The overall vision of Nutanix is to give their customers a delightful experience with One OS, One Click (simple to manage) on any Cloud (Private, Public or Distributed) and at any scale.

I would say that Quality Matters, and if given the choice... Nutanix is your best bet for SDDC.

I hope this helps and provides you some good information and food for thought.
Very best,

author avatar

I'll admit I am a little biased towards VMware's vSAN. I've been using it since beta in 5.5 and have not had much experience with Nutanix.

To me, VMware is the leader in this space. They might have been late to the game as Nutanix jumped ahead first, but they are quickly gaining traction and have been consistently releasing new features and functionality to their product.

vSAN is baked into the hypervisor at the kernel level, you just turn it on. There are no virtual appliances needed to manage and cluster the storage.

It is my opinion that VMware is the only true hardware-agnostic HCI solution and that everything else is vendor lock-in. You may get a good deal on Nutanix today, but might find it more expensive to scale later on. I've heard stories of customers getting gouged when trying to just add RAM to their nodes. Building your own nodes, starting with vSAN ready nodes will allow you to design a solution that can be scaled up or out.

Also, the VMware hypervisor is very widely used and supported. You will find many more articles and forums with answers to your questions on this platform over Nutanix. Also, there is an ecosystem of products that compliment the VMware solution that may not support the Acropolis hypervisor.

as always, it depends on what you are trying to do and what your requirements are.


author avatar
Real User

That depends on many factors and understanding where HCI is going today. The marketecture of HCI would have you believe that architected with hybrid-cloud cloud in mind. For the enterprise, hybrid-cloud will be the new norm.

I think Nutanix has done a remarkable job moving the discussion beyond an HCI to one that includes other things to a point where the Nutanix solution is an OS. As for AHV, it's grown by %25.

On the flip side, VMware has also done a remarkable job in partnering with AWS and others. MSFT now has Azure stack and linux consumption has grown %70. The last man standing without an on prem HCI solution for a hybrid cloud is Google. The Nutanix DNA comes from Google and have signed a unique partnership with them.

A lot of this could come down to, which public cloud makes the most sense for your business. The goal of Nutanix, VMWare and MSFT is to create a single pane of glass of O&A like VRA. Each one can do it today.

But what if you want an HCI multi-cloud solution. Then you may need to consider Cisco C3 and pick the HCI solution of your choice.

author avatar
Top 5LeaderboardUser

We looked at a plethora of products for our HCI implementation, and Nutanix won the business. Hands down it's the best in the HCI space. Not only the undisputed leader but the support thus far has been great!

You know the old verbiage "nobody gets fired for buying Cisco", it will soon be "nobody gets fired for buying Nutanix".

author avatar
Real User

I have seen interesting difference between both product, for VSAN we can configure to store 4 copies of data, while in Nutanix this maximum number is 3.

author avatar

Both has advantages and different use cases. However Nutanix has better management, however could be small learning curve for experienced VMware Administrators.

author avatar

That's a loaded question.
It depends of what you want to do with it AND in-house expertise.
Nutanix is linear; if you need more RAM but have enough disk space, you need to add another unit. It's also vendor lock.
VMware is also vendor lock and expensive

Why not JBoD and CEPH?

author avatar
Real User

Again depends, Is it greenfield or Brownfield, If greenfield what is your infra type, Converged infra, hyper converged, next what is your specific requirement with storage, typically usage types.
consider these facts and shortlist.
NOW let us jump to question Nutanix is a Platform level solution and VMware is software and
vendor specific solution. so comparing them directly is a kind of challenge, with respect to SDS I vote for NUtanix.

author avatar

If the hypervisor of Nutanix is VMware it will be the same as VMware vSAN. But if nutanix has acropolis, it could have some features additional to vSAN.

But I prefer in many ways SIMPLIVITY to Nutanix or VMware ready nodes. Simplivity is the best HCI in the market, it has features that none of the competence can even think to achieve.

author avatar

As a lot of other contributors said, it depends.

Depends of your environment (it you're allready full vmware, the question is self answering), of the kind of implementation you need (solution will be deployed in one or two datacenters, or will it be deployed in a lot of smaller multi-location sites ?) and, most of all, of what you're expecting from the solution. The one advantage of Nutanix is it own hypervisor. If you're thinking about moving from vmware hypervisor, give Nutanix a try. Else, Vsan is a good and robust solution.

For our own needs, we did a test bed with vsan, nutanix, HPE VSA. Our need was to deploy SDS in 230 sites, each one running 2 ESXi nodes, and managed centraly by a vcenter.

In the end, we choosed HPE VSA, due to the fact it wasn't needing a permanent vcenter connection and was running flawlessly with only 2 nodes.

So, as I said, it really depends on your needs.

author avatar
Real User

I haven’t used VSAN yet but as far as I’ve read from others, VSAN 6.5 is VMware’s ace up the sleeve if you will and the kicker is that it’s built into the ESXi kernel – huge advantage.

The Nutanix CVM requires around 16GB or more per host depending on the version 4.x vs 5.x of AOS.

Functionality and management is on par for both, but I’d give the nod to VSAN since everything is managed from vCenter.

Nutanix hardware has the edge in terms of being able to consolidate 3 or 4 nodes into a single 2U chassis – from experience some customers like it while others don’t want the “all eggs in one basket” setup.

Another option to look at is HPE’s Simplivity and trust me, it will be noticed come 2018.

author avatar
Real User

As a general rule whenever designing a new setup I try not to tie myself down to a particular hardware vendor. Nutanix will tie you down to one vendor and if you need to expand storage you need to add another node (same model). vSAN lets you mix/match and if you need to expand and you have free disk slots you can just add more disks.

There are other options in the market, not sure why you limit yourselves to just these two, for example our latest project was for a DEV environment and we chose Stratoscale, it is relatively a new entrant but very well priced and gives you a lots of flexibility. We also use storMagic that even lets you stretch a virtual SAN storage across different sites with just a 1G link. Broaden your spectrum.

author avatar

To answer your question:
the better one is NTT ECL2.0 hybrid cloud integrated with NTTS Managed private cloud.
Do you have any customer for this? We can help with our solution.

author avatar

A need to compare apples to apples is highly recommended:

For E.G.:
- 5 9's availability implies using Redundancy factor 3(RF3) that requires atleast 6 nodes in Nutanix solution.
When drive fails what performance impact on node/cluster
- Feature parity exists across Nutanix and VSAN hardware platforms: Till sometime ago Lenovo (Nutanix Solution) did not support feature: HyperVisor conversion. These parities must be clearly documented for both soutions
- Mix and match hardware across clusters: Restriction matrix is available but requires each organization to go through them to identify the right fit solution

Definitely also depends on how integrated the next gen solution you want to be compliant to your existing traditional Storage architecture

Definitely a good forum to pick brains and brainstorm ideas...Highly recommended

author avatar
Real User

Nutanix is better than VSAN.

author avatar

I echo the sentiments of all the previous posters that it really depends on the customer's needs.

Having invested heavily with SimpliVity before the HPE acquisition, I'd say the closest competitor in this space would be Nutanix. Respect where it's due. They do give us a lot of challenges when selling :)

author avatar
Top 5LeaderboardReseller

Your question below is answered by the classic “it depends”!!??

If the shop is already a large VMware shop, then VMware vSAN might be the way to go! If s/he’s not too heavily invested in VMware, if it’s time to look at a combo hyperconverged approach of 3-4 servers with Storage and virtual storage (that is Nutanix branded vs. VMware) this could be a money saver with great performance.
I guess it also depends on how much they like their current infrastructure products and again how much longer they will have them. If looking to replace right away, then I’d be glad to speak with them about Nutanix offerings! If VMware invested, we are equally able to discuss with them the many advantages of VMware vSAN.

author avatar

Nutanix is ever better for sure!

Nutanix is much more than SDS. It use some functionalities from “SDS”, but is not only SDS. Nutanix is a Enterprise Cloud Platform with a lot of features.

If you have few or thousands employees, your chose must be Nutanix.

With Nutanix, you can grow infinitely, you can choose a list of hypervisors, you can create a private cloud and easy integrate it with a public cloud, you can upgrade your cluster (Acropolis OS, AHV, VMware, firmwares, etc..) with just “one click”, you can….. and you have everything under a so easy management interface.

Choose Nutanix and be happy !!

author avatar

VMWare is the better choice. VMWare is the leader in virtual technologies. VMWare has a ton of functions, it’s cheaper to implement and use, there is a lot of expertise in the market on VMware, and you are not locked into a vendor when you use VMware.

author avatar
Real User

Well as many of experts have already stated here, It all depends requirement and existing landscape. Both products are good in their on way based on specific need or features you would like to have in a SDS.

Both can scale out well.
Both are H/W agnostic, can perform snapshot, inline dedupe, compression, data replication.
Vsan can support VASA, but Nutanix can't
Nutanix support bare metal but vSAN doesn't
vSAN is only for VMware hypervisor which is again a costly affair.
Nutanix on other hand support all major hypervisor like VmWare, Hyper-V, KVM. Along with this they have their in house hypervisor called as Acropolis which can prove to be frugal compare to VmWare.
vSAN will support only block SAN, where in using AFS in Acropolis hypervisor you can have FS running on SMB.

The list will go on.. However as I said earlier it depends what suites to your needs not to forget you budget as well..

As you have asked so I would like to mention here that I found Nutanix prism as a better management software comparatively.

Cheers !!


author avatar

There is no such thing as which one is better.

The criteria to choose is driven by the size of your storage resource and the dynamics of change that your business systems landscape is experiencing.

The largest the storage resource and the higher the dynamics of change then the more I would recommend to use Vmware vSAN.

If it is the contrary then Nutanix is feasible.

Needless to say before you choose Nutanix you have to make sure that your storage architecture is accurately defined. This is because:

1. it is not as flexible as VSAN is if later you want to change the architecture of your storage definition as it relate to the applications that use this precious resource and

2. the dynamics of changes that these applications impose on storage such as BI and transactional systems.

author avatar

I’d say Nutanix for both.

author avatar
Top 20Real User


To answer your question I found a very good write up on vSAN that I used for a customer of mine asking the same question. Here is a excerpt from that blog, I did not write this but do fully agree. My source was: Updated May 27, 2017 vSAN Q & A (VMware – vSAN Team BLOG 09/29/17)

17. We’re looking at vSAN as well as Nutanix. What would you emphasize?
First — performance. All of our head-to-head testing (as well as customer testimonials) shows that vSAN has a stunning performance advantage on identical hardware with most demanding datacenter workloads, and uses less memory and CPU as well — so better consolidation ratios.

Second — operational simplicity. With vSAN, everything is managed through vCenter and a single interface designed to be used and supported as a whole. The administrative workflows are far simpler and more obvious as a result — no need to go back and forth as you work with two products and two vendors. People have used both generally agree with this observation.

Third — feature support. For example, vSphere’s DRS is a popular feature that rebalances cluster workloads. As Nutanix depends on data locality, that can create adverse performance effects as VMs are moved and their data attempts to follow them around. Maintenance mode is another example — the evacuation and reprotection of data is automated with vSAN, but a manual set of steps with Nutanix.

Fourth — cost. Everyone looks at different pricing, but — generally speaking — an environment with vSphere and vSAN will cost less (hardware and software) than an environment with vSphere and Nutanix.

Fifth — choice. If you already have a preferred server vendor, or are looking for a tailored configuration, vSAN gives you a wide world of hardware choices.

I hope this helps…

author avatar
Top 20Real User

Here is an article that explains what I did regarding SDS.


author avatar

Nutanix is ever better for sure!

Nutanix is much more than SDS. It use some functionalities from “SDS”, but is not only SDS. Nutanix is a Enterprise Cloud Platform with a lot of features.

If you have few or thousands employees, your chose must be Nutanix.

With Nutanix, you can grow infinitely, you can choose a list of hypervisors, you can create a private cloud and easy integrate it with a public cloud, you can upgrade your cluster (Acropolis OS, AHV, VMware, firmwares, etc..) with just “one click”, you can….. and you have everything under a so easy management interface.

Choose Nutanix and be happy !!

author avatar
Real User

The question is not “Nutanix or vSAN” it is what are my workload requirements and Virtualization model? If I am a HyperV shop or non-VMWare Hypervisor – I am drawn to Nutanix by its generic hypervisor support even as I am worried about licensing. If I am a VMWare shop considering a Hyper converged solution – then vSAN has great appeal.

We then move to technical and business considerations. Technically, how many IOPS do the apps need – what is its scale, reliability requirements, users etc? If these put you squarely in the hyper converged space then we move to the key business issues. Do I already have a VMWare ELA that includes vSAN licenses – or are they incremental. What will my Nutainx licenses cost and since this is software can I move it to my favorite hardware platform be that Dell or HPE. If Dell – what kind of deal will they give me to migrate to 14G servers, or will they give me a smoking deal on VxRail?

I would go back to start for this colleague and clearly understand and articulate their requirements before jumping into the solution pool.

author avatar

if SRM and Encryption is your primary concern, you can send questions to both vendors and you will see the answer from feedback.

if Data Integrity is your primary consideration, you may need to explore more.

author avatar
Real User

You might hear this a lot but, it depends. Individual requirements will tend to lead you to a particular vendor.

There are many pros and cons to both products. I currently use both and the functionality is very similar. With Nutanix you have the addition of the controller VM's that must run on each host and the Prisim interface to manage it. With vSAN everything is built into the Hypervisior no additional VM's or separate interface to manage it.

You can choose to use the full suite of Nutanix products and replace the vShpere ESXi with the Acropolis hypervisior avoiding the additional cost to license ESXi on the hosts.

With VMware the Enterprise Level of software includes vSAN so it makes sense to use it if you need a Software Defined Storage solution.

In the end it really doesn't matter which is better, the question should be which will better suit my needs in my infrastructure. Only you and your team can answer that.

author avatar
Real User


author avatar

My preference is vSAN - it’s more flexible - you can just add storage to existing servers if you need just storage. If I need more computing power then just servers without storage as vSAN currenty can provide iSCSI targets. In Nutanix we always need to expand computing resources (add storage and serves) . Another plus for vSAN it’s native VMware solution - used by vendor itself in productions

author avatar


it depends what infrastructure customer is using now, what is the requirements and so on...



author avatar

From my experience on both system, VSAN is much more reliable. We experiment a lot more severity issue in the last two years on Nutanix. From a performance and flexibility VSAN is also the recommended platform.

author avatar

We preferred Nutanix.

author avatar
Real User

interesting question.

Simply put, the one that is better is the one that is the better fit for the client ?
Please give me specific environment details, infrastructure background, existing footprints, planned projects, IT team’s skill sets etc. and I will be able to give you a better answer.

author avatar
Real User


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