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Evolution of HCI Performance

  • 5 March 2018
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Evolution of HCI Performance
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This post was authored by Maryam Sanglaji, Principal Product Marketing Manager

Our lives are becoming App centric whether we like it or not. On average, a person owning a smartphone uses nine different applications per day. These applications have common characteristics. They load quickly, barely crash, and serve a value in that order. Value is less important if you can't access it quickly enough. This is a consumer side experience and we are all very familiar with that. How many Apps have you deleted from your smartphone because they just take too long to load? I know I have deleted many.

Now let's look at the enterprise side. The same rules apply here. Let's say you are the consumer of your company's IT resources. You are in charge of a highly critical enterprise application that is powering your main business - let's say a high-performance database. This enterprise application should generate the optimal IO and maintain low latencies. If you don't deliver this, either the App guys will bypass you and find alternatives or the whole business will suffer in terms of lower revenue. Neither of these options are good for you or your business.

A little history


Simplicity has been a Nutanix hallmark since the start. Abstracting many different layers of complicated operations helps customers deliver better IT services to their organizations. This simplicity also shines in the way we deliver performance to enterprise applications. We have performance features that are suited for many different types of high performance enterprise applications. As a result, our software requires less performance tuning and troubleshooting.

Our performance journey


Nutanix utilizes continuous innovation to constantly optimize performance - providing enhanced end-application functionality with every release. The Nutanix Acropolis architecture ensures linear scalability as customers expand their Nutanix footprints.

An August 2017 IDC study of 11 Nutanix customers concluded, "Study participants were unanimous that Nutanix provides markedly better performance than the infrastructure they replaced. Interviewed IT managers reported that they had improved application response times with Nutanix, helping ensure that users had access to high-performing business applications." The study showed this enhanced performance results in both increased user productivity and in increased organization revenues.

Here is a little snapshot of our performance journey with an upward trend for IOPs and downward for response time. There is a 420% improvement on IOPs from Dec 2014 to June 2017 due to Nutanix software performance updates. This example has only 4-nodes in the cluster. Any additional nodes scales out performance linearly. The absolute values are much less interesting than the trend.


Our performance innovation


We continually add performance features to our core software that drive these improving IOPS and response times. Also, Nutanix HCI software supports NVMe and the future Optane drives without the need to re-architecting customer networks.

"Our application performance is at least two times better now. I know this because we do a lot of performance testing looking at response time and the ability to scale during busy periods." - IT Manager in August, 2017 IDC Study

Here is a high level summary of few of these performance features and their impacts:

Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Tiering
Nutanix Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) leverages multiple storage tiers to place data based on the storage performance characteristics. It continuously monitors data access patterns and optimally places data to achieve the best performance.

Data Locality
Data is written and read locally. When a data is written locally it is replicated to the other nodes for high availability and then write is acknowledged. The distributed metadata services allows every node to access the data. Data locality avoids network chattiness and allows for low latency access.

RDMA Support
This feature optimizes replication across nodes by enabling low latency networking and high throughput. As a result, writes can have up to 30% lower latency.

VM Flashmode
In a hybrid environment, nodes having both SSD and HDDs, you can achieve an all-flash performance experience by pinning the hot VMs to SSDs and leveraging all-flash performance without the capex.

AHV Turbo
Optimized IO path in Nutanix AHV allows for major performance improvements by enabling multi-queueing of the IO requests. This results in increased VM IO performance at lower resource utilization and the ability of the platform to take advantage of new ultra low latency storage technologies like NVMe.

vNUMA Support
vNUMA guarantees memory access performance for critical applications and assists with memory bandwidth bottlenecks. Low latency VMs with high core counts get the most benefit.

Shadow Clones
Shadow clones allows for effective caching of large VDI and Cloud Deployments. Multi-reader Scenarios with VMs sitting on different hosts can largely benefit from the shadow clone feature.

VG Load Balancer
When running large databases and high performance applications, Volume Group Load Balancer, which we expect to be released in the near future, allows Nutanix clusters to scale-up per application needs leveraging Nutanix's scale-out architecture.

Final thoughts


My smart phone also has many features that optimize performance. Do I know all those features? The answer is NO. However, I insist on a phone that enables fast App loading and navigation.

Enterprise application users have similar requirements. And that is the beauty of Nutanix. It addresses application performance needs in the background allowing users to simply and invisibly benefit from the high infrastructure speed.

Check out the Nutanix bible to learn more and stay tuned for exploring performance and reliability as a follow up blog to the evolution of HCI performance blog series.

Forward-Looking Statements Disclaimer
This blog includes forward-looking statements concerning our plans and expectations relating to product features and technology that are under development or in process and capabilities of such product features and technology and our plans to introduce product features in future releases. 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; and other risks detailed in our Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2017, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this presentation and, except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results or subsequent events or circumstances.

©️ 2018 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. Nutanix, the Enterprise Cloud Platform, and the Nutanix logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nutanix, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder(s).

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