Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Battle Between Nutanix & VMWare - Why it Matters

The feud between VMware and Nutanix has been all over the news the last few weeks.  Wondering what this means or how it affects you?  The short answer is competition is always good for the customer or anyone who controls, manages, is planning a network implementation or owns a business with onsite server virtualization.

First let's back up a bit.  A virtualized operating system, or guest, is a copy of an operating system installed and configured to run on top of a specific hypervisor.  A hypervisor is a piece of software added to a kernel running on physical hardware to allow virtualization to occur.  Traditionally a hypervisor is only capable of supporting guests configured for that particular hypervisor.

Nutanix is setting out to create an appliance which will operate with multiple hypervisors.  This means you could theoretically run a mix of hypervisors on the same storage cluster managed by a single interface.  An example of a similar undertaking would be a single phone charging cable able to support Android phones, iPhone's, Blackberry and Linux phones.  Some of the existing hypervisors are:
  • Hyper-V - runs on Microsoft servers
  • ESXi - runs on VMware's mini-Linux distribution
  • KVM - runs on Linux

Why does this news matter?
Ultimately Nutanix is talking about selling a storage product capable of supporting multiple hypervisors.  Being able to run different hypervisors on the same storage and blade servers can be time and resource friendly.  The following situations are a few examples of when this capability would be most helpful:
  • On a network where funds are limited.  Many companies are unable to upgrade their entire network all at once.  This happens for many reasons, one of the biggest being the cost of upgrading an entire network all at once.  Other reasons can be the cost of downtime or inability to be down as in an insurance company.  
  • In an inherited network or new position where virtualization already exists.  If virtualization already exists but is not using the preferred hypervisor, this would allow implementation of the preferred software without compromising or negating the effectiveness of existing systems.
  • When companies merge or additional sites are absorbed.  Whenever companies merge or additional sites are added, managing and consolidating hardware and software can be a tedious process.  More often than not different versions of software are being used for development, marketing, product design, sales, email, and more.  Consolidating hardware running virtual machines on different and incompatible systems often means money is wasted.
Regardless of your preference of hypervisor, if different types of hypervisors are able to work together in the same environment, customers win.  Whether you oversee or manage a network, advise companies on network upgrades, or simply run a company with onsite equipment, the idea of multiple hypervisors being able to be run by a single platform is beneficial to all.  Long term it will be interesting to see what new capabilities are available and if other companies will come up with appliances able to work with multiple hypervisors.

Stay tuned!

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