Whether you’re watching on television or fortunate enough to see someone like Chris Angel or David Copperfield live on stage, we’re all captivated one way or another by the illusions performed by these artists.
Some of us immediately start dissecting the choreographed act like a detective at a crime scene, in hope that we can solve the mystery or the typical cliché of how the assistants legs became detached from his/her body - Then of course, re-attached once again.
One of my favourite movies “The Prestige” - Michael Caine explains to us that every magic trick consists of 3 parts – known as “the acts”
“The first part is called The pledge; where the magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird, a man\woman. The second act is called The Turn. The Magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. But you wouldn’t clap yet, because making something disappear isn’t enough. You have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act. The hardest part. The part we call The Prestige."
You’re probably wondering what magic or a magician has to do with Nutanix – Well since Nutanix started in 2009, we’ve been performing, what I like to call, REAL Magic through Hyperconvergance and Webscale Technologies – This has translated into making the Datacentre truly invisible.
Something which seemed like only an illusion to many has now been widely adopted in all verticals spanning from the Global 500 of companies to the small business http://www.nutanix.com/customers/
There are vendors out there that have tried to clone our “acts”, though almost all of them have fallen short of the “Turn” – Let alone have ever made it to “The Prestige”. It’s nothing but an illusion.
When revealing the method behind one of his tricks, Christian Bale advises a youngster to “Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret. But as soon as you give it up, you’ll be nothing to them. The secret impresses no one. The Trick you use it for is everything”
Since Nutanix isn’t creating an illusion, trick or more importantly afraid of becoming “nothing” once we reveal the interworking’s to our technology – We have (and will continue to be) very transparent. The Nutanix Bible (www.nutanixbible.com) as well as our rockstar bloggers like Josh Odgers (http://www.joshodgers.com) and Michael Webster (http://longwhiteclouds.com) are a great example of this, not to mention the ability to install our software on your own hardware at home, lab or up in the cloud.
Welcome to the Nutanix Community Edition.
What is the CE edition?
Community Edition is a 100% software solution enabling technology enthusiasts to easily evaluate the latest hyperconvergence technology at zero cost. Imagine having the ability to experience and test drive the same Nutanix technology that powers the datacenters of thousands of leading enterprises around the world on your own hardware – Something that was never possible with 3 Tier Architecture.
Community edition can really be consumed in two ways:
On demand public cloud service via Ravello Systems for as little as <$1.00 an hour – Perfect for those that have constraints around the accessibility of hardware.
Why Did We Do it?
We simply want to enable a broader audience of customers, partners and users to experience our advanced web-scale technology without the typical constraints around hardware accessibility, configuration and/or procurement.
If you’re an organization that wants to evaluate the industry’s leading hyperconverged infrastructure solution and determine suitability for your applications, this is a perfect use case, since it takes just a few minutes to install CE, then you’re on your way to spinning up Apps in no time.
Perhaps you’re an existing user that wants to further develop their skills and expertise on Nutanix or even take advantage of our extensibility API’s (REST API, nCLI, Powershell) to develop your own levels of integration.
As a recent Nutanix Platform Expert (NPX #09) I also highly recommend CE as a way to further develop your knowledge and skills on Acropolis before your panel interview.
Nutanix channel partners and our OEM’s can also benefit from CE, since it’s packed with all the key capabilities and features of the Nutanix Xtreme Computing Platform allowing demonstrations to be more agile and efficient
Now… Let’s get back to the Magic.
The First Act. The Pledge. The Power of Software Defined.
Software defined means abstracting the advanced functionality from the underlying hardware. In this case Storage, but why just stop there?
The Intel NUC – “An Ordinary Something…”
The NUC happens to be one of the most versatile, small form-factor mini PC’s out on the market today. It’s simple, ultra portable and consumes minimal power. This is predominantly one of the reason why it grabbed my attention.
Inside the NUC Kit, you’ll find just a motherboard with an Intel CPU combined with the standard 1 Gb Ethernet port, sound card and USB’s.
My first Act consists of acquiring\installing the following items:
The Second Act. The Turn. Nutanix Community Edition (CE)
Remember, “The Turn” is all about taking that ordinary something and making it “Extraordinary”!
Nutanix’s CE edition installs the Acropolis Hypervisor as well as the Controller Virtual Machine; just like the full production version that you would get from Nutanix or our OEM Vendors like Dell or Lenovo.
So that “Extraordinary” means taking our Ordinary Intel NUC and turning it into a Platform to deliver greater value – Remember, we’re not just storage!
The ability to run Virtual Machines, clone/Snapshot them and/or replicate them to another cluster, or AWS/Azure are just a small subset of the features available. Did I mention Application Mobility? With 3 Intel Nuc’s in a cluster, you can also have 2 copies of your data for further resiliency, just like a Nutanix production environment; all at a price of ~$700 USD for the hardware.
When reading this blog, you may have noticed that my Intel NUC isn’t running the minimum supported configuration of 4 Cores in order to run the CVM and the Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV). Since this is just my lab and demo purposes, I’ll show you how we get around the installer check.
Downloading and Preparing the CE Image
Click here to register and download the latest bootable CE Image
Once you’ve downloaded the bootable image file, the next step is to create a bootable USB Flash drive from the CE image
(a) On a Mac:
Insert your flash drive
In a terminal window run “diskutil list” to determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2).
Next run “diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN” (replace N with the disk number from the last command)
Now type “sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/rdiskN bs=1m”
Note: /path/to/downloaded.img is the path where the image file is located; for example, ./ubuntu.img or ./ubuntu.dmg). /dev/rdiskN is the location of the USB Flash drive as you recorded in step 3b
(b) On a Windows PC
Download a utility called Rufus to create the USB Bootable drive from the CE Image file
It’s pretty straight forward, though make sure you set “Create a bootable disk using dd image”
Browse to the location to where the image file is located and click the start button to begin the process
Modifying the Installer to allow for only 2 Cores
As I mentioned previously, since my Intel NUC hasn’t meet the minimum hardware requirements from a CPU Core perspective, I’ll have to modify the installer check to allow for CE to install on 2 Cores. The file in question is located at:
Since we’re working on an EXT4 boot partition, you’ll need a flavour of linux in order to edit the file.
Using VI or something similar; open the minimum_reqs.py file and change the “MIN_CORES” value from “4” to now “2”
Installing the AHV and CVM
Installing the CE edition is pretty straight forward and really simple to do – Boot off your bootable USB Flash drive and follow the install prompts.
With one CE Appliance, you’ll have 1 copy of data (aka. RF=1) or with 3 Appliances you data will be protected with 2 copies/RF=2) which is really cool.
Boot off the newly created USB Boot drive
Type “Install” to get started
Enter the relevant IP addresses for your CVM and Hypervisor
Select “Create Single-Node Cluster” if you only have one appliance
Accept the EULA and Select “Start”
Once the installer concludes, simply enter the IP address of the Controller Virtual Machine (CVM) in a web browser and you’ll be presented with Prism – Pretty easy huh?
The Third Act. The Prestige.
We’ve taken that “ordinary something” and made it “Extraordinary” in our second act.
Now for the Prestige.
When sitting idle and no virtual machines running; here is a performance snapshot of the Intel NUC running CE
The next step was to create a Windows 7 VM with the following specifications
1 x vCPU
1 GB vRAM
5 x Virtual Disks (Disk 0: OS 30GB, Disk 1 to 4 10GB’s)
1 x vNIC
Using a basic tool like IOMeter, I created the following access Profile consisting of:
4 Individual Workers mapped directly to one of the vDISK’s including 64 IO’s outstanding per target
Access Specification 1 of 4K Transfer Request Size, 100% Random, 100% Read, burst length of 64 IO’s
Access Specification 2 of 1MB Transfer Request Size, 100% Random, 100% Read, burst length of 64 IO’s
Access Specification 2: 4,518 IOPS and Over 1 GBps @ ~1.6ms Latency!
At this stage the Physical processor was at 100% Usage serving as the bottle neck as well as the inability to run more Virtual Machines convened by both Memory and CPU Limitations.
Whilst this was nothing but a synthetic test and used to demonstrate Peak Performance (like a Bugatti reaching its top speed only on closed circuit racetrack), what it has demonstrated to us is the true potential of this ordinary hardware platform when combined with the Nutanix Community Edition to bring further value (aka. The Turn!)
Since the CE edition is not supported for Production use, it’s a cheap alternative to hosting virtual machines (test/dev), a Remote Branch Office solution or even serve as a scale-out file server (Coming soon to CE/Tech preview in NOS 4.6) - One could also use the built in replication feature set to replicate the VM’s on CE into a full production Nutanix Cluster, Azure or AWS instance – So even though I only have 1 Intel NUC, I can further increase data protection, integrity and resiliency in other ways.
With a supported maximum of 4 x Nodes running CE in a cluster we would have an aggregate of CVM, SSD and HDD Performance. So the performance numbers quoted above would be increased since all CVM’s work together to provide Availability, Manageability Recoverability, Performance and Data Reduction.
This is our Prestige.
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This post was authored by Richard Arsenian, Nutanix Global Solution Architect – OEM Alliances | VCDX #126 | NPX #09