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Design at Nutanix, a ‘Nubie’s’ Perspective

by Community Manager on ‎02-23-2017 12:10 AM (37 Views)

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This blog was authored by Bryan Crowe, Sr. Staff UX Designer at Nutanix

 

I joined Nutanix roughly four months ago when PernixData was acquired by Nutanix. A four-year veteran at PernixData, I was the sole product designer, responsible for the overall structure, usability, and aesthetics of our software products. Nutanix and Prism were certainly not strangers to me because in my role, I frequently kept tabs on competitors and those in the general cloud infrastructure space. On the surface it seemed like a good fit, given my role and what I perceived to be Nutanix’s strong commitment to design and building great software for its customers.

 

Still, I wondered how much I would enjoy coming to Nutanix and joining a larger design team, since it meant that I would no longer be the only person focused on design and user experience-related decisions. I knew that I could work effectively in the Nutanix  environment, having worked at large successful tech companies in the past, but I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it after my experience at PernixData.

 

When I joined  the design team at Nutanix, I was immediately impressed by the caliber of people in the group. I found the visual designers, primarily responsible for the overall beauty and delightfulness of the software, to be top notch. Not only did they have amazing artistry skills, they also had strong technical skills which enabled them to be extremely effective working in a complex domain. From my prior experience, it is very difficult to find folks with a mix of those skills.

 

Similarly, I found the UX designers, primarily responsible for creating workflows and ensuring that complex software is highly usable and also meets actual user needs, incredibly strong as well. They are a passionate bunch that advocate for users in every meeting and every hallway conversation. These folks would run through a brick wall to ensure that Nutanix builds the best software for its users.

 

Ultimately though, a strong group of design talent can only take you so far. If leadership in the company is ambivalent towards user experience and design, the team's ability to deliver will be compromised. Sure the team could produce great work, but if design isn’t made a priority within the company, the engineering team can become quite conservative and descope critical aspects of a design at the first sign of technical challenges.

 

Thankfully at Nutanix, the commitment to design and user experience is evident. Even at the CEO level, those concepts are frequently mentioned and their importance stressed. This helps to establish a culture where the engineers have a positive can-do attitude towards building a top-notch user experience.

 

When technical challenges arise, instead of shying away and compromising the design, engineers think of creative and innovative ways to work around such issues. Even if we can’t get 100% of the way there, we’ll get 95%. That’s a big difference from immediately shooting down a design and forcing a drastically inferior approach.

 

This commitment and attitude isn’t just relevant to designers and UI developers. Backend developers have a huge impact on the user experience of a product. Take Nutanix 1-click upgrade as an example. It has a huge impact on the experience of using the Nutanix platform, and it has nothing to do with pixels on a screen.

 

Sure there is some button that needs to be clicked, but the magic is what the backend developers have done to eliminate a whole bunch of manual interaction within the system. When developers at all levels of the stack understand the importance of design and user experience, as well as how their work impacts these, some truly great software can be built.

 

Of course no situation is perfect and life at Nutanix as a designer isn’t without its challenges. In a culture where design is emphasized, various stakeholders won’t be shy about bringing their opinions to the table. After all, design is much easier to have an opinion about than how a backend algorithm is implemented.

 

Ultimately though, having passionate people that care so strongly about building the best software possible is a much better problem to have than the ambivalence mentioned earlier. It just forces designers to navigate these waters and learn when to incorporate feedback, versus when to stick to their guns and provide appropriate justification.

 

Additionally, while the company is supportive of design, not everyone may be aware of the finer details of the design process. For example, Nutanix is creating invisible infrastructure to reimagine all of enterprise computing. At the macro level, this requires a great deal of imagination, bold decisions, and solving conventional problems in creative and innovative ways.

 

At the micro level, the principles of intentional and opinionated design are leveraged to reduce cognitive load and streamline the user experience as we realize the overall vision. To some, it may not be clear how certain aspects of conventional UX processes, such as user research, fit into this general approach.

 

In reality, however, they work together quite nicely. Research is leveraged to inform, rather than dictate, what is built. Formative user research is done to observe behavior and understand the underlying intent. It is used to build empathy, and thereby inspire the creative ideation process, both at the macro and micro level. Concept validation research ensures our awesome ideas resonate and that our opinionated design approach has emphasized the right workflows, while providing only the most pertinent choices.

 

Lastly, iterative usability testing helps ensure the end product is both usable and delightful. Thus user research augments the Nutanix product design process to help ensure our products are high quality and well received, in a way that is closely aligned with the company’s core principles.


The design team has done a great job of educating internally about the value of research. They have gone so far as to train others in the company (e.g., engineers and product managers) about how to perform certain types of research, giving them a chance to do so directly at Nutanix’s .NEXT conferences. This proactive approach, in conjunction with a general open mindedness and willingness to learn that I have observed at Nutanix, has gone a long way towards changing any skepticism of a designer’s process into embracement.

 

Overall, I’ve found Nutanix to be a great place for a designer. My concerns about coming to a larger established team have ended up being a non-issue. While I may no longer have comprehensive control over design, which is natural in a larger team environment, I still have a huge amount of decision making ability within my focus area.

 

And ultimately, when the caliber of people you work with is high, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have all decision making ability, because you trust others to make decisions just as well, if not better, than yourself.

 

Enterprise Cloud for Healthcare: It is all about the Applications

by Community Manager ‎02-22-2017 07:14 AM - edited ‎02-22-2017 07:30 AM (824 Views)

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This post was authored by Preethy Padmanabhan Solutions Marketing and Dan Cowan Global Healthcare Director, Nutanix 

 

When I speak with a business partner or a job candidate and they say “in healthcare, it is all about the apps”, they immediately have my attention.  This is a sign that they "get it”, and understand the importance of applications in healthcare and the user’s, usually a clinician, interaction with the application.  

 

Across industries, it’s somewhat unusual for the actual application to come up in a discussion about infrastructure.  But, in the healthcare provider market, the applications used to run the business and deliver patient care are critical, and they need to be top-of-mind at all times.  If the infrastructure provider doesn’t understand the requirements of the applications and invest time in ensuring that the platform can effectively support the applications, the company will struggle mightily in this market.

 

In healthcare, the applications are so critical that the app vendors often dictate the infrastructure options of the customer, and this can ripple into other parts of the data center.  Sometimes this is good in that it provides standardization on high-performance systems, but historically it has also forced many customers to run aging architectures and slowed the pace of adoption of modern, more efficient data center products.  This is why some see healthcare as being 10-15 years behind other industries when it comes to technology adoption.

 

In recent years, provider organizations have invested very large amounts of capital and resources in applications such as EHR’s, PACS, and VNA solutions. These applications are strategic to the business and represent some of their top expenditures. In other industries, we see complex applications like SAP, Salesforce, or custom apps built on Oracle or SQL Server, but in no other industry do we see unique, specialized apps like the ones used by healthcare providers.  And these applications shouldn’t be categorized by the overused “business critical”.  They are truly “life critical”. I hope you recognize the difference!

 

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And because of the importance of these apps, where should they live?  Healthcare customers tell us that they want an application platform that they can control, one that is secure (think HIPAA/HITRUST), is cost effective, scalable, and reliable.  All of those requirements point to a new-age infrastructure platform, owned and managed by the hospital or health system.  

 

This could reside in their own data center or in a co-location facility.  But it’s certainly not a public cloud service.  Not today, at least.  Providers have been moving some apps (corporate website, etc) to the public cloud, and most of that makes sense.  But for critical apps that are truly predictable workloads and need tight controls, a customer-owned Enterprise Cloud solution is the answer.  And it can be deployed in far less physical space, using much less power and cooling, than the infrastructure of even 3 years ago.  

 

But the key benefit that makes Enterprise Clouds a better alternative than public cloud is that it is easy to deploy and manage with your existing team.

 

Benefits to Healthcare IT from Enterprise Clouds

  • Web-scale architecture based on hyperconvergence with data locality and intelligent data tiering for high performance
  • Self-healing and non-disruptive upgrades to minimize downtime
  • Adding resources to enable linear pay-as-you-grow scaling without downtime
  • Secure development lifecycle and self-validation/healing to meet stringent requirements
  • Integrate data protection and disaster recovery to help meet availability service levels

If a technology vendor isn’t building specialization around healthcare, they are missing the mark and likely won’t be competitive in this vertical.  It should be a well vetted decision to invest in healthcare, because it’s not easy.  An individual or a business can’t pick up Healthcare IT overnight, or even in months.  

 

It take years of experience to understand the application functionality, benefits, pitfalls, the industry players, and the impact to clinician workflow and productivity.  And all of those are important to understand, on top of just being able to speak the lingo of healthcare.

 

In what other industry vertical do we truly have the opportunity to impact the quality of someone's life and health?  It may seem like a stretch to say that a product like Nutanix can have that impact, but if we can improve the availability and performance of healthcare applications, that truly affects people's lives.  And if we don’t do our job well, don’t understand healthcare, or don’t take it seriously, our technology can have a very negative affect on the delivery of care and on people’s wellbeing.  This is why we have a focused healthcare team Nutanix, and why it’s so important to us.

 

Nutanix at HIMSS 2017

Nutanix will be exhibiting at HIMSS 2017, Orlando from February 19-23, 2017 at booth #2887, where experts will be on hand for technical conversations on datacenter trends in healthcare and digital transformation. Nutanix customer, St. Joseph Health will be speaking on topic “Transform Health IT with Enterprise Cloud Technologies” at HIMSS session 178 on Wed, Feb 22, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm in Room 311A. Nutanix will also be hosting a Lunch n Learn session on the topic of ‘Enhancing Care Delivery with VDI on Enterprise Cloud’ on Wednesday, Feb 22, 1:00pm – 2:00 pm in Room 203C. For more information check out the Nutanix at HIMSS blog post here.

 

To learn more about our healthcare customers, partnerships, and resources, please contact us at healthcare@nutanix.com, engage with us on Twitter or send us a note below.

 

Disclaimer: This blog contains links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

 

 

Nutanix Solutions for Oracle Applications and Databases

by Community Manager ‎02-21-2017 02:59 PM - edited ‎02-22-2017 06:18 AM (1,071 Views)

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This post was authored by Tom Dau, Sachin Sundar Sham and Sachin Chheda

 

The recent AOS releases have kept the Nutanix Oracle solutions team busy with all relevant features and functionality ranging from AHV enhancements such as VM placement functionality involving VM affinity and anti-affinity, Distribution Storage Fabric related enhancements including validation of ABS with Oracle VMs and Oracle Linux, Metro Availability witness functionality, and more.

 

For large enterprises that are adapted to running Oracle databases on a 3-tier architecture, Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform represents a viable path forward. DBAs and IT project managers no longer have to reconcile the storage, the network, the system administration and virtualization (compute), and database management across multiple teams.

 

Business units can directly drive action with clear benefits around faster time to market, improved productivity, and lower capital and operations costs. IDC has published a customer spotlight report of a global gaming company, who made the move to Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform for their mission critical ERP environment based on Oracle RAC, using Nutanix AHV and native Nutanix REST APIs as the foundation.  You can download the report here.

 

Whether deploying a single instance or Real Application Cluster (RAC) Oracle database, Nutanix Enterprise Cloud gives you the option of deploying storage, either with native vDisks or through Acropolis Block Services (ABS).  ABS provides block-level access to storage devices via iSCSI for Oracle database servers which can be configured on virtual machines or on bare metal servers.  You can get more in-depth technical details by downloading the Best Practices for web-scale Nutanix Acropolis Block Services and the solution note for supporting Oracle RAC with Oracle ABS.  

 

In addition to ABS, Nutanix also provides space-efficient snapshot and clone features that can be beneficial to any Oracle environment.  The snapshot and clone features give DBAs the ability to refresh development or test database using production data for testing new codes, database patches, or operating system patches before deploying in production. Here is a solution note on how you can protect your Oracle databases with Nutanix snapshots.

 

We would love to work with you on transforming your Oracle environments using Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platforms. Send us a note at info@nutanix.com to schedule a customized technical briefing or engage with us on Twitter.

 

Continue the conversation in our community forums on workloads and applications

 

Disclaimer: This blog contains links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

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