Nutanix: We're not a storage company, but, er, watch out, NetApp

Scale-out file server coming in Q4 will mean converged boxen do compute, SAN and NAS

Nutanix is working on a scale-out file server and thinks it will set the cat among the pigeons in array-land, especially NetApp's filer business.

Sunil Potti, Nutanix's senior veep for engineering and product management, revealed the product today at his company's .NEXT user conference in Miami, Florida.

There's two parts to the product. The first is software: there'll be a new layer to the company's storage fabric. That software is currently tuned to doing the things that make virtual machines work well. The new layer will depend on the “classic” Nutanix fabric but add the ability to handle millions of smaller objects.

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said the filer was developed because customers want it: having put their SAN and compute in one box, it makes sense to add a filer. Plenty of desktop virtualisation gets done on Nutanix boxen, he added, which means the files users create need to be stored somewhere. Once customers buy into the hyperconverged caper, telling them they need another box to store user files sounds rather odd.

Hence the filer and its second component: a new “storage heavy” Nutanix appliance, the 6035c with 60TB of raw capacity.

Potti also said Nutanix has developed its own erasure code technology. Erasure codes are the heir to RAID, and need fewer disks to get the data protection job done. A small team of former Facebook and Oracle staff required two years to develop Nutanix's scale-out version of erasure codes; Potti reckons that effort was worth it because by developing it, the company can get closer to the storage costs achieved by hyperscale operators.

Potti and Pandey were both at pains, in chats with The Reg, to point out that Nutanix is not a storage company. The storage fabric at the heart of its products and the new filers are just things it needs to do to fulfill its stated aim of making IT infrastructure simpler to operate.

But Potti did take one swipe at the storage establishment, suggesting that when the product arrives it will get executive heads rolling. Again.

“Don't be surprised if there's a change in the leadership at NetApp,” he said during the conference keynote. With NetApp changing leadership last week, Potti's remarks suggest that while Nutanix does not see itself as a storage company, it's clearly a player in the storage market. And it's playing to win. ®

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