Today Ravello Systems and Nutanix have announced the availability of Nutanix CE on Ravello’s Smart Labs by means of a jointly developed blueprint.

For those not familiar with any of the two vendors, let me briefly recap for your convenience.

Ravello Systems has developed a product called HVX, which can be defined as a “nested hypervisor” capable of running on top of public clouds like Amazon AWS and/or Google Cloud Engine, together with a proprietary network overlay. This solution is designed to address specific use cases such as Labs, Demo/Sales environments, Dev/Test disposable infrastructures etc; this result is achieved leveraging commodity public clouds but at the same time allowing users to deploy workloads in the very same format they use on their own premises. Therefore the underlying AWS or Google Cloud Engine is completely hidden and not relevant when it comes to design and implement your infrastructure on Ravello’s platform. One interesting point is that VMware ESXi is already supported as a blueprint, so it is possible to deploy nested vSphere labs on top of Ravello’s HVX running inside AWS or Google Cloud Engine. It might sound confusing but it actually isn’t!

Nutanix, on the other end, is now an established player in the HCI – Hyper Converged Infrastructure market segment. Their Hardware Appliances provide computing power with Software Defined Storage capabilities making traditional SANs a redundant construct in the modern DataCenter. Nutanix supports VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and recently the internally developed Acropolis (KVM based) hypervisors; to allow customers evaluate their solution on their own hardware, the company released in the past months the Nutanix Community Edition (Nutanix CE), a totally free and functional (but also totally unsupported) version of their software which can be installed on the hardware of choice without any limitation (except that it will only run Acropolis, no vSphere/Hyper-V).

So what is the big news in today’s announcement? Now, thanks of the joint work of Ravello and Nutanix engineers, a Nutanix CE blueprint has been made available for deployment on Ravello Smart Labs. This result will allow to test drive Nutanix CE without any actual hardware and has been achieved by modifying CE to include Ravello’s platform in it’s HCL (although it’s not Hardware at all!) and tweaking Smart Labs into exposing SSD drives to CE.

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The result is that Nutanix CE can run inside a nested enviroment as if it was running on real hardware. There is only one limitation at the moment, which is that only one CE node can be deployed, so it won’t be possible to scale to more nodes. Whether or not this limitation will be overcome in the future it’s not yet clear, but this is only the first release, so there’s no reason not to be hopeful. Also, Ravello suggests to deploy the blueprint (which is already available at the moment of writing) on their “Performance Optimized Tier” to guarantee enough resources to the Nutanix CE instance.

A few use case for the Nutanix CE blueprint:

  • Enterprise IT Professionals can quickly evaluate the leading hyperconverged technology with no licensing costs or new hardware investments;
  • Nutanix Technology Partners can quickly test and develop complementary applications, services and utilities (the CE blueprint is fully compatible with Nutanix APIs and therefore development can be done against it);
  • Nutanix Resellers can quickly do sales demos and potential customers can rapidly set up Proof Of Concept environments in no time and at no cost.

I was personally toying with the idea of test driving Nutanix CE but the Hardware Requirements were concerning me as I could not make the necessary investment in my homelab, so today’s announcement comes at the right time for me to test CE in a Cloud Lab. All I will need is to create an account on Nutanix CE website and use my credentials when deploying the blueprint in Ravello Smart Lab.

Another blog post in the pipeline maybe?

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