Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor: Uploading Images

  • 29 October 2015
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Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor: Uploading Images
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Now that the widely anticipated 4.5 release is GA, many more customers who are evaluating AHV will be pleased to see the rapid rate at which we are maturing this solution.

In the past, customers who wanted to use AHV in their environment often told me: “I really like the additional simplicity AHV brings to the table, and understand that Nutanix has built a hypervisor agnostic management layer that can easily migrate VMs between hypervisors - but, how do I get VMs and images on an AHV based Nutanix cluster in the first place?”
This is where Image Service comes in. Image Service is a fault tolerant, highly available distributed service within an AHV cluster that makes it extremely easy to import disk/ISO images to it.

Before image service was available, users had the following options to transfer images to an AHV cluster:

  • Leverage the built-in SFTP server within the cluster to transfer images
  • NFS mount cluster storage to an external server after whitelisting its IP and then use scp to transfer images.

  • NFS soft mount cluster storage to a node and use scp to transfer images.

All these options worked well but involved many manual steps.

Besides, on AHV, VMs consume virtual disks as SCSI devices and hence disk images need to be in raw format to be exposed as SCSI devices to VMs. So, if the source image was not in raw format, a user had to pre-convert the source disk image format using offline tools before transferring it to the AHV cluster.

Image service eliminates all such manual steps and simplifies the earlier process. It allows upload / download of disk images to a Nutanix cluster from the Prism UI using a few clicks. A user can point image service to the URL of the source file or upload a file from his local machine.

Image service stores images on the same storage fabric where vDisks live. To simplify consumption of images by VMs, image files are stored in raw format on ADSF. For source images in non-raw format, Image service also performs on the fly format conversion during transfer to the AHV cluster. The image is transferred over the wire in its source format so if it is compressed or encoded in a sparse format, the transfer process is bandwidth efficient.

Since images are stored as raw files on ADSF, similar to vDisks, images are also RF protected against failures. All the storage efficiency features of ADSF like thin provisioning, compression, de-duplication etc. are also beneficial for image data files.

It is easy to see how functionality to replicate images across AHV clusters and even to a public cloud can seamlessly be added to Image Service in future simply by leveraging native replication and backup to cloud capability of ADSF.

Now, this is what i call beautiful design - inspired by Unix shell - as various pieces of software nicely build on each other and can be combined together elegantly to quickly provide a rich and powerful infrastructure platform.

In other words using bash syntax:

bash $ cat `echo “Replicate compressed, de-duplicated, EC-X encoded images to AWS” >t; ls t`
Replicate compressed, de-duplicated, EC-X encoded images to AWS

This post was authored by Manish Lohani, Director of Product Management

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