Top Things to Know About AHV: AOS 5.0 Edition

Top Things to Know About AHV: AOS 5.0 Edition
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This post was authored by Mike Wronski, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Nutanix

Big Finish

The end of 2016 brings us a monumental Nutanix software release. AOS 5.0 has a ton of new features and enhancements. Within that AHV is no exception. As of 5.0, AHV has features needed to run the majority of enterprise applications. Below is a quick overview of some existing and new AHV features:

Free Native Hypervisor, AHV

When talking about cloud models, virtualization is a given. More specifically, the hypervisor is just something that is expected to be there. In the last ten years, the features and functions of a hypervisor have matured and become commoditized. This is clear in the continued success and advancement of Amazon’s EC2 which does not use a market leading enterprise hypervisor.

What has become evident is that real value comes from the management and additional services offered above virtualization. This value is even greater when combined with the financial model and agility offered by the Enterprise Cloud. Nutanix understands this and that is why we include our native hypervisor, AHV, for no additional charge on every node licensed.

No licensing for hypervisor management either. With Nutanix Acropolis and AHV, you get a complete Enterprise Cloud solution including HCI infrastructure, virtualization, management, monitoring, cloud portal, and predictive analytics.

And yes, there is a completely free way to try out Nutanix and AHV. The Nutanix Community Edition (CE) is a totally free and full-featured version of our software. You provide the hardware and we provide software and a community support forum.

With the next CE release, CE is anticipated to be on-par with our GA 5.0 software. We plan to keep CE at the forefront of our software development and potentially provide early access or preview features in those releases.

Can’t we all just get along?

Easy scaling is important. Nutanix storage has always allowed mixing and matching of node configurations to deliver the capacity and performance needed by new workloads. This mix-and-match extends to virtualization. When expanding capacity by adding nodes with different CPU types, AHV automatically detects that difference and will ensure CPU compatibility across all nodes in the cluster.

Hot Stuff

The sun always sets and requirements will always change. When VM requirements change, it’s much easier if additions can be made non-disruptively. In 5.0, AHV gets RAM and CPU hot-add functionality for guest OSs that support that operation. This new feature is in tech preview in 5.0.

Working in Harmony

A basic tenet of virtualization is an efficient use of available capacity. Using all resources is great, but in doing that, performance must not be compromised. A previous release of AHV introduced VM initial placement, making decisions on the best fit for a VM in the cluster. With 5.0, we add the Acropolis Dynamic Scheduler (ADS).

ADS can examine running workloads to prevent resource contention, by mitigating “hot spots.” This is the Nutanix version of VMware DRS, with broader visibility into storage. ADS can monitor VM and storage controller resource utilization then leverage historical data from Prism and machine learning to create a solution that is based on VM location.

All completely automated with no need for user configuration or tuning.

Opposites Attract

For some applications and use cases, there can be VMs that just SHOULD not be together. This can be due to availability concerns or known resource needs. 5.0 introduces VM anti-affinity policies to match those requirements.

Similarly, there are situations where it can be desirable to limit a VMs location to a specific host or set of hosts (e.g. license compliance). For these use cases, AHV now includes host-based affinity policies. Both host affinity and VM anti-affinity policies are considered by ADS when deciding if VMs need to be migrated as part of hotspot avoidance.
Power to the People

A large value of the cloud is quicker access to IT resources for application owners. With 5.0 Nutanix includes a project based, self-service portal (SSP). With SSP, admins and project owners can create projects, assign users, and resource allocations (CPU, RAM, Storage). This allows users to manage their workloads and get resources when they need them all via a managed HTML5 portal.

IT Happens

No one will profess that disaster recovery isn’t important. That said, DR done right can be expensive. Because of the costs, many DR plans are full of compromises. You may know that Nutanix Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF) provides replication, DR, and backup features between clusters. What you may not know is that those clusters DON’T have to be running the same hypervisor.

With cross-hypervisor DR, the primary site can be running VMware ESXi and the DR site AHV. The license savings from AHV can help remove some of those DR compromises or even allow for more DR capacity, automation software or network enhancements.

Our cross-hypervisor DR allows VMs to fail forward and back between ESXi and AHV with everything managed via Prism GUI.


If you have been following Nutanix, you will know that “simple” is what we focus on. Web-scale HCI simplified the complexity of the infrastructure, and “1-Click” management made upgrades of our software incredibly simple.

Though we provide a 1-click option for ESXi and Hyper-V, there’s much more required to upgrade the rest of those virtualization stacks (e.g. VUM, vCenter, SCVMM, vROPs, etc). When using AHV, there are no external management requirements, which means its 1-click and GO.

Making Connections

Networking is a key component to any cloud deployment. In the past, network troubleshooting started with diagrams or tracing physical cables in the datacenter. As we move more and more into software defined and virtual networks, those methods are either too complex to maintain or physically impossible. Nutanix now provides a network visualization view that maps from VM to the physical switching layer.

You may be aware that AHV networking is based on Open vSwitch. This is a robust software-defined networking (SDN) layer that shares some lineage with VMware’s NSX. Open vSwitch was created by the team at Nicira; that was later acquired by VMware. At our .NEXT user conference in Vienna we announced two big advances for our networking features that are not part of 5.0 but we expect to be delivered in a future release:

  • Network Services - Which will allow 3rd party network function providers to insert themselves into our network path to provide those services
  • Microsegmentation - Which will allow granular, secure control of data flows between VMs and policies for network services.
For more details, check out the Press Release and this blog post.

Want to Learn More?As mentioned earlier, there are many new enhancements in the 5.0 release. Below are some other blog posts that focus more on those features:

The 5.0 Release is Here
Nutanix 5.0 Features Overview (Beyond Marketing) – Part 1Ten Things you need to know about Prism Self-Service

Connect with NutanixWe have worked with a lot of you over the past several months as we built all these new capabilities to get valuable feedback. But it doesn’t have to stop there. We encourage you to try out 5.0 and let us know what you liked, what you didn’t and what else you would like to see in the product. If you are new to Nutanix, we invite you to start the conversation on how Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform can work for your IT environment. Send us a note at or follow us on Twitter and join the conversation in our community forums.

Disclaimer: This blog contains links to external websites that are not part of 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.

Forward-Looking Statements: This blog includes express and implied forward-looking statements concerning product features and technology that are under development or in process, capabilities of such product features and technology, and our plans to introduce product features, including micro-segmentation, network services, and updates to our Community Edition software, in a future release. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts and instead are based on our current expectations, estimates, opinions and beliefs. The accuracy of such forward-looking statements depends upon future events, and involves risks, uncertainties and other factors beyond our control that may cause these statements to be inaccurate and cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied by such statements, including, among others: failure to develop, or unexpected difficulties or delays in developing, new product features or technology on a timely or cost-effective basis; the introduction, or acceleration of adoption of, competing solutions; a shift in industry or competitive dynamics or customer demand; and other risks detailed in our quarterly report on form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2016, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this blog and, except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results or subsequent events or circumstances. Any future product or roadmap information is intended to outline general product directions and is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation for Nutanix to deliver any material, code, or functionality. This information should not be used when making a purchasing decision. Further, note that Nutanix has made no determination as to if separate fees will be charged for any future product enhancements or functionality which may ultimately be made available. Nutanix may, in its own discretion, choose to charge separate fees for the delivery of any product enhancements or functionality which are ultimately made available.

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