Enterprise Cloud – A Bridge to Everywhere

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Pictures can say a thousand words, we hear that all the time.  I found this picture on the internet and I couldn’t think of a better representation of how customers feel today when thinking about Hybrid Cloud.  I think most customers can relate to the guy walking across the trusses of the bridge, with high risk, difficult migration paths and no simplicity.  What good is a bridge if it’s difficult to cross or in only allows traffic one way?

The body of water,  or “obstacle” represents the challenge(s) businesses have today to move applications from their Data Centers on prem to the Cloud and back again.  This two way approach is ideal for any business.  While today, there are some providers that allow for two way application migration, these solutions force you down a single path, in other words you are locked in to their cloud, their terms and choice is nonexistent. Let’s break down what I believe are the three paths to cloud today that do not provide the simplicity, choice, and application mobility that should be the main tenets of any Enterprise Cloud:

Disjointed Cloud:  This model is sometimes related to terms like shadow IT where teams outside of the IT Org that provides the Infrastructure Services are going into Amazon or Azure and swiping their credit card to get the IaaS that they require to develop and/or run their applications.  This is less than ideal in any organization, not only from a cost model or security perspective, but also think about the impact that this has overall on the organization itself, rogue teams doing their own thing without the IT Organization even knowing whats happening.  This model typically falls flat when the Amazon bills start to roll in and/or there is no thought about how to get these applications migrated in house for consumption, if required.

tYzM88One of my favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Anyone who has ever tried to move an application out of Amazon can relate to this!  Once you cross, it’s quite a feat to get back, just ask Facebook about their Instagram migration. 

All-In Cloud: This model is all or nothing.  Typically, moving 100% of your               applications to the cloud comes from a directive from Senior leaders within an organization, CIO’s, CFO’s etc because it comes down to a  key assumption that is not quite accurate and that is cloud is cheap or cheaper than having your own Data Center for ALL their applications.  The perception is that Cloud is a panacea that will solve all their problems and eliminate the issues that legacy IT models have.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tremendous benefits here, life cycle MGMT goes away, Data Center space is not needed or re-purposed, agility to stand up services quickly, simple MGMT interface(s).  Sounds great doesn’t it?  Wait for the monthly bill.  Don’t fool yourself, you are still paying for these things and since you have opted to house everything in the cloud, worse yet, you’re paying for both predictable and unpredictable workloads.  Why would you pay high costs for workloads where you fully understand the performance/capacity usage characteristics? If you did a comparison of cost for these workloads, on prem vs cloud, you’ll discover that it’s very costly to house these applications in the cloud.

chris-surprised1This is typically the reaction once the CIO/CFO sees the bill from an “All-In” Cloud Model!

Locked-In Hybrid Cloud:  In this model we see tech giants like VMware and Microsoft offering their own Cloud Services, ie vCloud Air and Azure.  This means that VM/Application Mobility are tied directly to their technologies, vSphere and Hyper-V.  The expectation from these companies is that since you are already are invested in their products, you’ll be more apt to consume their cloud services. Because of this, you simply lose choice.   You are tied into Azure or vCloud Air, their technology and their terms. Today’s Enterprise Cloud platform should allow you do deploy your applications anywhere. Any  Hypervisor, Containers, Bare Metal AND/OR Multi Cloud offerings.

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Today, more and more, customers are looking at different Hypervisors, and run-times. We are seeing everything from a complete migration away from costly Hypervisors like Apple’s move to KVM, or what I see in the enterprise, migrating workloads like Tier2, Tier3 workloads to KVM and keeping Tier1 workloads on vSphere or Hyper-V. Same applies to container technologies like Docker.  This is a choice customers have today however, these choices are not offering the simplicity and ease of movement of applications between these run-times and the same is also true for Cloud.  When you look at consumer technology, choice is paramount for success. Take for instance a Roku Streaming Media Device. Roku has created a “platform” to deliver multiple types of content.  You aren’t so interested in the device itself more than the choices you have with that device.  One of the biggest benefits of Roku is that there is a ton of content and no “lock-in” to the media apps you want to use.  You want to use Hulu or Netflix as your TV service, go ahead, you want to use Vudu or Amazon for your movies, sure thing.  This is what we are used to in the consumer world and we will EXPECT this type of choice in the Enterprise.  This will require a new way of thinking and a platform to get us there.

CaptureSource: Nutanix

 

What does this world look like?  Let’s go back to the bridge analogy.  Think of this new world as a multilevel bridge with bidirectional paths to different platforms and Cloud Services.

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The bridge is just part of the story and you’ll hear this analogy used time and time again. It’s the other part that’s the missing piece and that’s how traffic (applications) flow across the bridge to the destination and back.  This process must be simple,  without change to the application and with minimal risk and skill set much like today’s consumer devices provide all of us daily. It must provide consistency in application availability and performance between the different platforms.

At Nutanix, we are delivering on this promise.  Our vision and direction is true and we continue to provide mind blowing innovation in the Application Mobility space.  It’s companies that will provide seamless bi-directional travel across the bridge that will be successful today and years to come.  I want to leave you with some demos that drive this point home.

Nutanix is more than just a Hyper-Converged Infrastructure company, we have evolved into the Enterprise Cloud Company!

 

 

 

Nutanix Community Edition Home Lab Part IV– CE Installation

In the next video in my series I go through the Nutanix Community Edition installation on the Single Node build.

Listed below is the link that you will access to obtain the Nutanix Community Edition Software and join the Community:

Nutanix Community Edition

Enjoy!

 

Part V of my series will start putting it all together and working with the Nutanix solution to go over a good part of features and functionality and how i’m using these Nutanix CE in my Home Lab!

Steam Machine Build 2015 Part I

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As the cold weather decends upon us and ‘gaming’ season begins and before I write my next article on converting my Home Lab from VMware vSphere to Nutanix Community Edition running on our Acropolis Hypervisor, I decided to write a fun article on my latest project, the Steam Machine Build.  For those that have been living in a closet the past year, Valve has been very busy on Steam OS, an open source Linux Distro built for Linux compatible Steam games. At the heart of the program, Valve’s goal to to ensure that “PC Gaming” stays at the forefront of gaming “platforms” where Consoles are dominating. Valve, believes, as I do, that the consumer gains much more from PC gaming than consoles for many different reasons.  The problem is, the PC as a gaming platform has hindered it’s popularity due to expense, constant maintenance (driver updates, firmware), compatibility issues, and the list goes on.

While I don’t plan on debating Console VS PC, there are certainly pluses and minuses for both so i’ll just break it down to where I see the benefits.  Personally, I am fortunate to have both a Workstation/Gaming PC and an Xbox One.

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My decisions were based solely on my game choices and why?  Well, some games are better on console than PC, IMHO.   Take for example platform games and sports games.  The Xbox one with the built in community, great controller trumps the PC handily in those games.  What about FPS, which is my favorite genre, actually Modern War FPS, Battlefield, Arma etc. These games, some only offered on PC like Arma III, are built for PC.  They offer rich graphics, and are truly made for the keyboard/mouse control combo.  Recently, EA debuted Star Wars Battlefront with a limited Beta release.  This was one of those games I assumed would be a PC title, so I eagerly staged the install waiting on the release date.  The game played awesome, and look amazing on my hardware and I was sold that I would be buying this on PC.  Then I decided i’d download the Xbox One version, thinking that it wouldn’t look good (like Battlefield Hardline) compared to the PC and the controls would be wonky but I was dead wrong!

Star Wars Battlefront Xbox One VS PC – Image Quality

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Clearly the PC looks better, however, the Xbox One version looks great as well.  Let’s talk about game play a bit.  I put this at a tie because DICE has done a PHENOMENAL job with the game interface.  It reminds me of a console experience, but on a PC.  That’s not to say that we didn’t have to worry about driver updates and maintenance and the hefty specs recommended for PC:

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That’s a beefy PC spec requirement and lets face it.  Most “real” games try to get as close as possible to Recommended specs and not the Minimum system requirement for a buttery smooth, graphic-rich gaming experience.  The problem right here is cost.  They are listing the latest Skylake platform which was just released!

Launching the game was quick to get in game was also fast, again, this is not common with typical PC Multiplayer games. Of course, SSD tech has helped tremendously with load times so on my rig its fairly close to the console counterpart when launching the game itself, BUT, I had to update the latest Nvidia Driver that was released for Battlefront prior to me playing the game, not typically something you would do on a console unless a new Dashboard update has come out which is usually twice per year.

I had also assumed that the Xbox One controller was going to hinder my game play experience, to the contrary, once again Dice has provided such a great controller mapping by default I found myself thoroughly enjoying the game play with the Xbox One controller.

All in all, I ended up playing more on the Xbox One, after one day of playing on the PC I was hooked on Xbox One and never went back to the PC for this game but one thing was really missing and that was the true beauty that PC graphics provides and the question come up, how do I get a console experience with PC graphics?  This led me to the “Steam Machine” project.

My HD projector for my Xbox One supports 1080p and I wanted all the graphical beauty that Star Wars battlefront can potentially provide with the Xbox One controls and on a platform that was easy and simple to manage…but here comes the other challenge.  I can’t really build a Steam Machine because Star Wars Battlefront is an EA game which more than likely, will only be released through Origin which now limits me and may not allow me to go with Steam OS…bummer.

My options are now limited.  I have to go Windows but I need a wrapper, something that can boot to an easier interface that would offer a way to easily launch my games and media.  This would lead me to a minimal Windows 10 install with Kodi. Kodi, formerly XBMC (Xbox Media Center) has been around for a while and is a free open source software media center. This would be the interface that would provide a console like experience.

In the next segment I will talk about the hardware, the choices I made, new vs used, and the enclosure that would house this beast.

Raving Fans, we all want them, but how do we maintain them?

Raving fans.  Its something that all of us want to build in our customer base.  This is a phrase that is used regularly in our industry.  Many organizations are great at initially building their fan base, but continuing to build and maintain it is another story.  For example, how do you feel when you’re favorite sports team continually loses season after season and they don’t make the proper changes to become a winning team? Like most sports franchises they build a fan base, but you have to win to maintain it.  I’m a Jets fan, so I get it.

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After a brief interaction on twitter last night, I was reminded that while we want to create raving fans, we don’t want them to speak highly of us just because we’re Nutanix and we are the leaders in the HCI space.  More on what I mean later.

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Howard Marks reminds us that customers can be wrong, but there are reasons behind it.  When I look back on my career and the technologies from the biggest companies, I admit at some level I was caught up in the “promotion” of solutions/products from these companies only to realize that a lot of that promotion was based on loyalty, comfort, investment and the fact that I certainly bet my career on these companies and i’m not going to fool myself, they have provided me a nice life, however, when is it you wake up and realize that there are technologies that are out there that will and are making things better for our customers even if it’s in direct competition with the solutions and companies to whom you have dedicated so much? It took me a while but I got there, that’s why I now work for Nutanix.

The question is when we become dependent on a certain technology and we are truly vested, does that cloud our judgement and does that have an impact on our perception of reality?  Absolutely.  Howard states that customers still wanted legacy tech that outlived its usefulness from customers because it’s what they knew, it’s what they invested their careers on.  Look, I get it, it’s scary to think that something that you completely invested in and believed in would have to be replaced at some point, seems to be the natural cycle of IT, companies release XYZ product to solve a problem, customers invest in said product, product gets incrementally better over time until the solution or architecture itself has been surpassed by something better.

On a large scale, this can be seen from the Mainframe transition to Client/Server, to now Hybrid Cloud, and in smaller scales with other technologies like HCI, Containerization, etc.

You can see Justin Hurst’s response telling us that we should focus on keeping the customers ecstatic over our products, meaning it’s not just about building “raving fans” it’s continually innovating to maintain the “delight” he speaks of, and i’m not talking about just technology.  You need to innovate and adapt to how you provide support, how you deliver your product through the Procurement process, the transparency of your vision and direction, and finally, you have to be a customer service oriented organization.  This is what builds “raving fans.”  I’ll be honest, three years from now I don’t want our fans to love us because we are the leaders in HCI, I want our customers to rave about us because we are not only continuing to the do the things i mentioned previously, but we are doing them better.

Our .NEXT conference is a prime example of that.  This was a customer focused conference period. From Keynotes to Sessions, we had customers tell their story about why they are raving fans of Nutanix.  .NEXT showed the world that Nutanix is here to stay, we continue to innovate and we do this while providing outstanding customer service at the same time.  You can see this from our 96% customer satisfaction rate and our phenomenal Net Promoter scores, besting those that have been in the industry for over a decade.

This is how you create raving fans and “keep our customers delighted.”  After all, that’s why we’re here.

To become a raving fan of Nutanix, go here.