Xpress Configuration Scenario

  • 14 August 2016
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I apologize in advance for the long post !!!!

From the information I've reviewed, the Xpress Models (I'm looking at Lenovo's offering) will support a maximum of 4 nodes. In addition there is no Protection Domain.

Let's pretend that I'm a cloud provider for multiple customers, and I host their (Domain/File/Print/Email/Sql) servers in my 4 node domain. I want to use an (Acronis/Storagecraft) in VM backup software. These products store their backup images to a NAS/Share.

If I setup a second 3 node Xpress Model that is storage "heavy" running Acropolis File Services, as a NAS/Share destination for my backup images, is there any restriction that you can think of that would prevent/limit me from doing this ?

Right now we use StorageCraft and save to a Windows Storage NAS that has RAID 10 and I'm concerned that writing to will not be able to handle the I/O?

I'm guessing that the 3 node Xpress AFS will easily handle intensive I/O writes. On weekends, the Full backup runs and during the week only incrementals run....if that helps....

Thanks in Advance,

Best answer by Jon 15 August 2016, 16:29

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- Thanks for reaching out, and sorry for the slow response (we usually try to respond to everything within a day, this past week has been exceptionally busy)

RE Xpress - Protection domain
Actually, Xpress Edition DOES have protection domains for in-cluster snapshots AND single-site DR (meaning one Xpress cluster replicating to another Xpress Cluster).

This is aligned with the procurment boundaries for Xpress, which is limited to two clusters per customer.

Keep in mind that Xpress is specifically targeted for SMB customers, which is intentionally different from mid-market/commercial/enterprise customers who have large datacenters and possibly a multitude of ROBO sites that need to replicate back to HQ.

RE Xpress for Cloud Providers
As I mentioned above, Xpress is generally targeted at SMB customers, and as you mentioned, does have a 4 node per cluster limitation.

This generally doesn't align with most cloud providers we come across, especially when you think of scaling out over time. If you run into a situation (as a provider) where demand increases over what 4 nodes can provide, you wouldn't be able to simply add a 5th node, instead you'd need to make a new cluster (which is 3 node minimums).

You'd be much better off procuring the traditional Nutanix NX, Dell XC, or Lenovo HX products, starting small, and scaling out over time. This not only allows you to be flexible with scaleout, but also gives you access to every single feature that your heart desires from a software perspective with software editions like Ultimate and Prism Pro.

RE Backup (in general)
Sure, you could use Acronis as long as it supports the hypervisor you chose (I'm guessing VMW?), and then wherever that sends data is really up to that backup application.

That said, if you DID have two nutanix clusters, it would actually be way easier from a RTO perspective to use the in-built snapshot and replication features, as that would eliminate the need for that 3rd party backup to a secondary cluster.

That said, snapshots are not archives (in any storage system ever), so if you need archive (think indexing, long term retention, and so on), then yes, you'd want to use a 3rd party tool.

RE AFS as a backup target share
If you did decide to use AFS as a backup store, it should be fine with this workload as long as Acronis supports SMB 2.1 NAS (which I'm guessing it does), and the physical cluster AFS is running on is sized appropriately for the amount of IO and throughput you want to run through it.

As I mentioned above, I'd recommend you consider just simply using the in-built snapshot and replication protection domains (which you can use even with Xpress) and saving yourself the overhead of an additional backup product.
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Hi Jon,

Thanks for the great info, I will revisit the information at Lenovo's site.

I should have quantified my info a bit more, sorry about that.....
We're looking to build maybe at the most a 200 virutal machines, private cloud offering for our clients, we'd be happy if we can do that amount.

My reference material so far has been this

I'm working with Lenovo (we are a Lenovo reseller as well) and we deal with SMB clients, so we're looking to have a between 20-40 clients that each have 2-3 VM's per client.

Backups - For backups, I should have stated, we use Storagecraft (similar to Acronis) for archiving and it does support SMB, FTP as destinations. I need to be able to restore data and complete systems up to 3 weeks back. I will still see what snapshots can give me and if Storagecraft has abilities to read snapshots.

AFS for backup - I have a personal dislike for RAID and in most backup targets in the SMB world, RAID is the only option, and in most cases RAID 10 provides the most I/O for backups. So have a 20-30 TB of backup in a RAID 10 config is costly, probably as costly as 3 node Xpress with equivalent..

Thanks again,

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RE Backups
if you run VMW for example, and storagecraft pulls backups over the VMW VADP API, its exactly the same on Nutanix as it is on any other platform.

However, keep in mind - Storagecraft does not have Nutanix level storage integration, meaning pulling data directly from Nutanix rather than from the hypervisor (VMW, etc). CommVault is the only provider that does that.

RE Xpress
Work with your Lenovo and Nutanix account teams to validate that your business qualifies for Xpress.

Either way though, a lot of these concepts are the same across all of our software/editions/models/etc.

As you may know, Nutanix doesn't use RAID, we use something known as Replication Factor, which conceptually from a data storage perspective 2 copies of data stored (like raid 10)