Friday, June 12, 2015

Foundation: Then, Now and Beyond

In creating a world class product, the challenge is always to develop something that is flexible,useful and simple. Many times, simplicity is lost at the expense of greater flexibility or flexibility is lost when a product becomes overly simple.

During the development process at Nutanix, two questions are always asked: “How do we build a solution that is simple yet flexible at the same time? How do we make the datacenter invisible? How do we help our customers to spend more time with their loved ones than being in the datacenter ?
The Nutanix datacenter solution is easy to operate, install, configure, and troubleshoot thanks to features such as Easy and Non-Disruptive upgrades, Foundation, and Cluster Health.
Highlighted below is the evolution of one of our most exciting feature that all of our customers will see and use, the Nutanix Foundation installer tool.

Before Foundation, the Nutanix factory had a repository of scripts that allowed them to install, test, and ship the blocks to the customers.  The scripts had limited options for the network configurations, hypervisor, and Nutanix OS versions. 

Our customers told us they needed increased flexibility to install the hypervisor of their choice, hypervisor version of their preference, and the Nutanix OS with the networking configuration that best suits their datacenter at the time of installation, not at the time of ordering.

While we were developing this tool, one of the hypervisor vendor decided to throw a curve ball at us, forced us not to ship their hypervisor from Nutanix factory, even if the customer wanted their hypervisor. They considered us a competitor though we were enabling their bare hypervisor to move up a few layers and provide storage as well.

This made us more deterministic to provide the flexibility of changing the hypervisor at the time of installation to our field, partners and customer. This tool will eventually help our customers to non-disruptively change the hypervisors at anytime on a running cluster.

To meet these customer needs, the Nutanix Foundation installer tool was created. It was developed with the aim of providing an uncompromisingly simple factory installer that is both flexible and can be used reliably in the customer datacenter.

Foundation 2.1 allows the customer/partner to configure the network parameters, install any hypervisor and NOS version of their choice, create the cluster, and run their production workload within a few hours of receiving the Nutanix block.
So far, the feedback from our customers and partners has been fantastic.

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In the short time that Foundation has been available, the tool has quickly evolved to meet new customer needs.

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Inception of Foundation 3.0 started from the desire to make add node as simple as pairing an iWatch to the iPhone.

We strive to keep Foundation uncompromisingly simple and still extend the features without becoming a “featuritis - feature nightmare” by constantly reviewing it with our UX team and being in touch with our customers.

Very soon, we will be shipping Foundation within NOS 4.5, it will facilitate these Lifecycle management features
  • Faster Imaging of the nodes by our customers.
  • Seamless expansion of clusters. ( AOS 4.5)
  • Efficient Replacement of boot drives. (AOS 4.5.2)
  • Network aware cluster installs and cluster expansion.
  • BMC/BIOS Upgrades. (AOS 4.5.2)
  • Reset the cluster back to the factory defaults.(AOS 4.5)
  • Easy onboarding of any node to the cluster

I am excited to see how the new foundation framework will enable the future Lifecycle management innovations.

We will release more details on each of the above features soon.

Note: First version of this blog appeared in .Nutanix Community Blog

Vision:Multi-Hypervisor Cluster