Cluster-struck Nutanix bares all for new AWS alliance

Catching up on elastic and hybrid options, but not for cloudy first-timers


Nutanix has struck a deal with Amazon Web Services to have its hyperconverged stack run in the Amazonian cloud, as revealed by our sister publication Blocks and Files yesterday.

Dubbed “Clusters”, this is not a service for those who want to slap down a credit card and get cracking: users will need to already be an AWS user and to operate a virtual private cloud (VPC).

For users with that under their belts, Nutanix’s intention is for its stack to run in AWS as if it were on-prem. The company wants to create an elastic consumption option because it has come to realise – prodded by some sudden COVID-inspired purchases – that clients now need and expect the chance to experiment or run temporary workloads. The company is also keen to have a better hybrid cloud option with the cloud market leader. And it is wise to the need for one control plane to act upon anything with an x86 and storage so that its clients feel they have options.

Clusters run on bare metal, specifically the i3 Metal instance type which pack a 36-core Intel Xeon E5-2686 v4 CPU with with 36 hyper-threaded cores, 512 GiB of memory, and 15.2TB of NVMe SSD-backed instance storage. Running on bare metal is important as it means Amazon’s virtualization layer is not present to complicate matters.

Nutanix and AWS have, however, figured out how to map networking and other settings from an on-prem rig to a VPC. We’re promised this all happens automagically and that Nutanix and AWS have sorted out the necessary plumbing so that the hyperconverged upstart is considered a “first-class citizen” in a VPC.

It’s possible to run Nutanix on a single AWS instance, but only its not-for-production Community Edition. Mission-critical workloads will need three or four nodes and the best price on i3 Metal instances is $55,493 over a three-year term.

You’ll pay AWS for those instances because Nutanix sees itself as just an application you might choose to run in AWS, rather than a managed service like VMware-on-AWS that sees Virtzilla bill for its software and cloudy consumption.

Nutanix licences are portable: the company will let you use ‘em on-prem, in AWS, and shuttle back and forth.

20 AWS regions will support Nutanix from today.

The service is not surprising because hybrid cloud and elastic options are utterly commonplace and Nutanix can’t afford not to have one and would be exceptional in the worst sense of the word if it didn’t pursue an AWS alliance. Yes, Nutanix also has a hybrid cloud alliance with Google, but that ran as a nested VM atop the Chocolate Factory’s cloud management code. The arrangement with AWS promises to be rather speedier, a quality Nutanix prizes.

Nutanix has hinted at cooking up a similar bare metal option on other hyperscale clouds. ®

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