Acropolis: managing your virtual machines and critical workloads

Nutanix - Acropolis logo
You have read about it at length online, in the media, and in our blog posts: data centers are going software defined and hyper converged to optimize and simply environments. One method to simplify and save time for IT management is through using an integrated solution where hardware and an abstraction/virtualization layer comes right out of the box. Feel free to check out my previous blog post, Nutanix Data Center Revolution, for a high-level refresher on Nutanix’s goal for invisible infrastructure.

In this blog I’d like to hone in on Nutanix’s Acropolis, an industry-leading solution and cost effective hypervisor to manage virtual machines and workloads. Let’s look at how Acropolis can help your enterprise. Acropolis works to simplify your abstraction and virtualization needs as your Nutanix’s integrated hypervisor for VM placement, scheduling, conversion, migration, high availability and DR.


How Does Acropolis work?

Acropolis is a distributed multi-resource manager, orchestration platform and data plane. It has three main components: distributed storage fabric, app mobility fabric, hypervisor.

Nutanix - Acropolis 2016


  • Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF) – Expands upon the original secret sauce of the Nutanix platform, the Nutanix Distributed Filesystem (NDFS). NDFS has evolved from the original distributed system pooling of storage resources into a much larger and capable distributed storage fabric.
  • App Mobility Fabric (AMF) – Hypervisors abstracted the OS from hardware, and the AMF abstracts workloads (VMs, Storage, Containers, etc.) from the hypervisor.  AMF helps provide the ability to dynamically move the workloads between hypervisors, clouds, as well as provide the ability for Nutanix nodes to change hypervisors.
  • Hypervisor – multi-purpose hypervisor, Nutanix flavor of CentOS KVM hypervisor. Many now call it a “cloud hypervisor”.


Real life problems Acropolis on Nutanix can solve:

  • Single pane of glass for deployment, optimization and operations of advanced IT infrastructure
  • Run any enterprise application out-of-the-box in 60 minutes or less
  • Eliminate the need for standalone SAN or NAS-based storage
  • Reduce the complexity of legacy virtualization management, while lowering virtualization costs by up to 80%
  • Option for Nutanix Cloud Automation Service from Nutanix Consulting delivers policy-based self-service provisioning and orchestration of common VM-centric workflows
  • Lower the hard-dollar, labor and process costs of managing VMs and setting automation for HA
  • Automate Server Management operations like being able to have rolling software updates while the application runs live do to replication built in.
  • Reduce power consumption costs.

With Nutanix, you can still use traditional hypervisors. If you want to improve VM management efficiency, reduce time to respond, and reduce cost and complexity, while enhancing visibility into your overall environment, Acropolis with Nutanix is the ideal solution for you. Acropolis is a positive game changer. Call CMI to get into the game.

Stephanie Sung is a Client Executive at CMI.  You can follow her on Twitter @StephJSung.

Building a Predictable and Cost-Effective Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop-oriented service that hosts user desktop environments on servers and/or blade PCs. I recall having conversations with clients 4-5 years ago around VDI, when many predicted that it’d be the next big thing in IT efficiency. All of the efficiencies of server virtualization (shared compute & storage resources, ability to provision/de-provision on demand, simplified patch management, monitoring and support, etc.) could now be easily applied to the desktop environment. It was the hot topic of 2010/2011, everyone was talking about it but very few truly jumped on-board mainly because of cost considerations. A full-scale VDI deployment still required expensive assets: OS licenses, VMware licenses, servers, storage, etc. While we could illustrate anticipated soft cost savings, i.e. operating expenses such as ongoing management and administration, it was difficult to justify in lieu of hard dollar savings. Ability to scale and maintain performance was also a challenge, given the VDI environment comprised of physically discrete infrastructure of compute, storage, and network.

Fast forward to today, clients are not only talking about desktop virtualization, they are rapidly adopting it across the enterprise. We believe this is largely due to the proliferation of converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, and players such as Nutanix have completely changed the game. With compute, storage, and network now fully integrated (in a distributed manner) along with ‘single pane of glass’ UI that provides an integrated analytics dashboard for the data center, Nutanix has enabled the customer to truly have a software defined architecture, which is ideal for a VDI deployment. It is also a turnkey solution that comes ready to support desktop brokers, such as VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop, as well as supporting toolsets such as LiquidWare and Unidesk. Finally, this virtual computing platform would support every type of VDI user—from task and knowledge workers to power and data scientists. This unique platform and architecture provide customers the simplest path to enterprise deployment with the agility of public cloud providers.

The Nutanix infrastructure is a scale-out cluster of high-performance nodes (or servers), each running a standard hypervisor and containing processors, memory, and local storage. Each node runs virtual machines just like a standard virtual machine host (please refer to the diagram below).


This out-of-the-box infrastructure solution eliminates high cost and the extensive risks posed by conventional virtual desktop solutions. Customers can minimize their upfront cost by starting small (as small as 3 nodes in a single 2U appliance) and adding nodes as they grow (scaling from 50 to tens of thousands of desktops), maintaining absolutely linear and predictable performance. Clients also reduce risk by leveraging pre-validated reference architecture. Nutanix offers a ‘Virtual Desktop Bundle’ offering that allows clients to purchase a fully baked VDI solution based on the number of users.

In addition to hyper-converged infrastructure, we’ve noted other trends as Desktop Virtualization continues to gain momentum in 2015:

  • Blurred lines between Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
    • As usage on mobile devices continues to proliferate, attention is turning towards mobile device management (MDM), security and support.
    • MDMs need to step up to ensure a consistent management experience across multiple types of devices (ie. PC, Google Android, Apple iOS).
  • Operating System (OS) irrelevance.
    • Clients are reluctantly being forced into Windows 8 and, with thin client computing becoming more feasible, the OS becomes irrelevant to a certain degree and users have choices (ie. Linux, Google Chrome OS, etc).
  • Solid-state storage for VDI deployments.
    • Traditional vendors and new vendors (ie. Nutanix, Nimble, and Pure) are gaining market traction – delivering unlimited IOPS per desktop solves a major pain area for VDI deployments.
  • Open source VDI.
    • Early stages project underway to deliver VDI desktops from an OpenStack Cloud.
    • Hypervisor license costs may not be a huge cost of a VDI deployment, but every opportunity to save money helps!

We’re delighted to see technology transformations, such as hyper-convergence and web-scale technologies, that allow VDI to finally take off and deliver value to the enterprise! It will be interesting to see the continued evolution as momentum gains around open standards, which will deliver greater flexibility and choice to both the business and the end user.

solution_usecases_Big-Data-3We have built data center architecture for the last two decades to serve applications with the same building blocks. Servers, Networking (LAN/SAN) and storage. Everyone will agree on that, we may not agree on what vendors to use in the data center, but that is ok.


Then the application landscape changed. Databases became bigger, everyone wants data delivered faster. Does the three tier architecture still hold up under these new requirements / constraints? You can definitely make the servers faster add more memory, make the network low latency, change the storage to flash and lower latency there too. In the end, is it worth the complexity and operational challenges you deal with? Ponder that. And while you do, consider moving to two tier approach. How? A truly converged solution built with web scale in mind. Pull a Google…


Converged architecures in the marketplace today are just new riffs on the same three tier theme. See UCS, HP Cloudsystem, etc. Then there is Nutanix. Nutanix is a truly converged. Software defined with a network connection. It is the closest you are going to come to condensing the three tier challenge you are currently dealing with.


You may not be ready for this change today, but on your next refresh cycle I guarantee you this will be a consideration. Invest wisely. The three tier architecture is not completely dead. It’s on the back nine though.

Recently the CMI team has seen a dramatic shift in how our customers approach IT.  New technologies in the datacenter, moving into various cloud models (private, off-prem, hybrid, etc.) and ever-growing virtual environments have opened the door to a new set of challenges and opportunities.  And while our clients undergo these transformations, we are constantly keeping a pulse on potential solutions to grow with our clients into the future.

It is with this in mind that CMI is excited to announce our new partnership with Nutanix, a hyper-converged platform that brings compute and storage into a single tier, offering predictable scalability and lower costs for virtualized environments.  Nutanix took the benefits behind the Google file system and brought it to mainstream organizations, delivering a cost-effective “web-scale” solution which is software-defined for resilience, distributed across the cluster for linear scalability, self-healing, and rich with automation and analytics tools.

Using their hyper-converged technology, we’ve seen Nutanix help clients increase datacenter efficiency and lower capital and operating expenses while maximizing performance and delivering linear scalability.  Some of the top workloads that take advantage of this technology are:

  • Virtual Desktop Initiatives (VDI)
  • Big Data
  • Server Virtualization
  • Disaster Recovery (DR)
  • Enterprise Branch Offices

If you’d like more information, this YouTube video gives a high level explanation of Nutanix in 2 Minutes.

And if you’d like to learn more about the Software-Defined Datacenter, this link brings you to a free soft copy of “Software-Defined Storage for Dummies”.  This book discusses how storage is evolving to become an on-demand service running on affordable, off-the-shelf x86 hardware and how to address current storage challenges while saving money.

And if web-scale, hyper-convergence sounds like a fit for you, give us a call – we’re here to help.