Visit Nutanix

Nutanix Connect Blog

Welcome to the Nutanix NEXT community. To get started please read our short welcome post. Thanks!

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 

Nutanix Acropolis File Services (AFS): Performance and Scalability by Design

by Community Manager ‎01-24-2017 11:07 AM - edited ‎01-24-2017 11:11 AM (2,633 Views)



This post authored by Dan Chilton, Sr Solutions Performance Engineer at Nutanix


Nutanix recently released version 5.0 of the Acropolis Operating System and with that release came an exciting Nutanix product feature—Acropolis File Services, or AFS, for short. This new feature deploys like an app on the Nutanix platform. It provides the ability to deploy a robust, enterprise-capable SMB file sharing solution on a Nutanix cluster. By providing this feature within the Nutanix platform, it removes the need to maintain a separate stand-alone network attached storage (NAS)  solution for Windows / SMB  file services.


AFS is a clustered, distributed file server that runs as a set of file server VMs on the Nutanix platform. AFS has performance scalability built into the flexible design. As storage and performance needs grow, AFS can easily scale out or up, while also allowing dynamic load balancing. For more of a deep dive on AFS features and architecture, read our tech note.


The following workloads are well suited to be supported by the Nutanix designed AFS.

  • Windows user home directories
  • Virtual desktop user remote profiles
  • Departmental shares
  • Application shares

In this blog, we discuss file server performance requirements and testing methods, as well as how AFS meets and exceeds these requirements.


One of the first things that customers want to know when considering a file server solution is how well it performs. As someone who focuses on solution performance in my day job, I know how important this is. However, to answer the question, we first need to understand what the customer wants to do with the solution. The customer interactions with the file server constitute the workload.


Here are some example workloads:

  • Copying one large file at a time to the file server.
  • Browsing a list of files in a directory and then reading the desired file.
  • Downloading a file from the file server to the local client desktop.
  • Editing a document with Microsoft Word and then saving the document.
  • Multiple users logging on to virtual desktops that have their remote profiles stored on a file server

We used tools throughout the development and release cycle to test the performance of these workloads and others to make sure that we would perform well for our target use cases. To test workload #1, we used robocopy/copy and paste, #2-#4 Microsoft File Service Capacity Tool or FSCT, and #5 LoginVSI.


Single File Copy Test = Poor Test of Performance


File copy is easy to test (just copy and paste a large file) but it is a poor indicator of file system performance due to a low number of outstanding I/O and the single threaded nature of the workload. This means that a file copy test doesn’t accurately test what the fileserver can do.


Typical real world situations have many clients or applications requesting data concurrently driving a workload. Don’t just take my word for it, check out this discussion from Microsoft OneDrive team member Jose Barreto.




FSCT is a performance test suite based on the analysis of real user home directory operations at Microsoft. It has been used to prove performance by file server vendors including Microsoft, NetApp, and EMC. Some key aspects of FSCT that make it so valuable for simulating customer user home directory environments are:

It tests Active Directory integration, including Windows Domain Controllers, clients, user accounts, authentication, and permissions

  • Users connect to their home directory with multiple sub-directories, for a total of 270 files/folders and ~80MB of data
  • Users execute scenarios that create file service metadata workloads
  • Operations include cmdline file download/upload, Windows Explorer file delete, drag/drop, MS Word file open/close, and save
  • Throughput is measured in user count of concurrent sustained users, instead of IOPS/FileOPs.

We found that AFS provides a solution for home directories that can be scaled up as user count grows.

  • With FSCT, we pushed our file server to the limits and established reliable user connection counts per file server VM (FSVM) node that can be scaled up as needed.
  • We translated this data into the Nutanix Sizing tool to provide quality sizing proposals coupled with room for future growth.
  • The chart below shows the capability of a single AFS file server node in terms of concurrent heavy user workload.



The AFS solution starts with as few as three VMs, but we have successfully tested a solution scaled out to as many as 16 AFS virtual machines on a 16-node cluster. AFS functionality can be added to existing Nutanix clusters to leverage extra storage capacity or deployed as a standalone file server cluster. 


You can scale out small four vCPU and 16 GB RAM AFS VM nodes to support thousands of users by distributing the load across AFS nodes.




Why LoginVSI


We configured LoginVSI, a popular, industry-standard VDI sizing tool, to store the virtual desktop user remote profiles on the AFS solution. We also used Citrix Profile management, a robust enterprise VDI deployment suite. The workload includes Windows OS operations and applications including Microsoft Outlook.


With VDI profiles, the AFS server consumes cycles mainly during the boot phase; once the desktops are booted, they consume most of the CPU and RAM cycles. Accordingly, to gauge AFS performance, we focused on average logon time as the key metric (of course, less is more when it comes to logon time). We wanted to see if logon time increased with clients connecting to AFS file shares to read their profiles at boot up, rather than to the local c:\drive.


We found that we could easily support a 400 virtual desktop deployment with our smallest AFS cluster. As shown in the chart below, the total user desktop logon time was 7.2 seconds for local c:\drive and 6.8 for remotely stored profile. (Note that these logon times are typical for LoginVSI virtual desktops and should not be confused with individual I/O response times, which are often in the ms and us range.)




Why Choose AFS? Performance Scalability by Design


  • Scale Out—Clustered by design with at least three nodes, AFS currently supports up to 16 nodes. Workloads can be distributed evenly across small or large Nutanix clusters. You can add more file server VMs as additional storage or compute are needed.
  • Scale Up—Recognizing that some file services workloads require large amounts of processing (CPU) and caching (memory), AFS nodes can scale up as requirements grow by adding additional vCPUs and RAM.
  • Load Balancing–As file data grows, the storage or processing demands sometimes cause a hot node. AFS easily solves this by rebalancing data and processing across nodes.
  • Analytics-driven—A fine-grained analytics engine built into AFS continually analyzes the storage and performance consumption of the file server. From this analysis, AFS recommends scaling out, scaling up, or rebalancing. This feature can reduce TCO by minimizing administration time and performance troubleshooting.

Our testing shows that the flexible, clustered design of AFS can provide the performance and scalability enterprises need for the most demanding SMB file sharing environments, all without the added expense of a standalone NAS appliance. Talk to your Nutanix partner to request a demo for AFS and leave the file storage and management to us.


If you are new to Nutanix, we invite you to start the conversation on how the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform can work for your IT environment. Send us a note at info@nutanix.com or follow us on Twitter and join the conversation in our community forums.


Disclaimer: This blog may contain links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. 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.



Horizon 7 Reference Architecture with Windows 10

by Community Manager on ‎10-17-2016 10:42 AM (640 Views)

VMware Horizon 7 on Nutanix, practical sizing and design guidance for VMware Horizon desktop virtualization. This validated reference architecture highlights the advantages of using the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform to seamlessly scale and deliver consistent robust performance for VMware Horizon 7.


Horizon 7 allows you to provision virtual or hosted desktops and applications through one VDI platform, while Nutanix eliminates bottlenecks and provides business continuity by providing robust disaster recovery options for businesses of any size.


Running VMware Horizon 7 on Nutanix offers benefits that include:


  • Scale linearly from 100s to 1,000s of users without changing your design.
  • Eliminate VDI complexity and risk with turnkey infrastructure.
  • Fast cloning with View Composer Array Integration (VCAI).
  • Several deployment options for App Volumes and user profiles.
  • Integrated disaster recovery for linked-clone desktops and AppStacks with little additional overhead.


Download this free guide for detailed performance results as well as general sizing and design recommendations.


Continue the conversation in the community forums! 


Blog Roundup: What did you miss this week?

by Community Manager on ‎09-30-2016 12:10 AM (1,085 Views)

Blog Roundup-2.png


It’s the end of another week, and the Nutanix team was at Microsoft Ignite and had an excellent time, it’s always fun to meet and chat with folks in person who you typically spend time with virtually on Twitter and other social media platforms.


There was a lot of news this week from Ignite, and we've included some of the announcements in this week's blog recap, in addition to some of our recent blog posts that you may have missed, enjoy!


Nutanix Launches .heart – Our New Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program | Nutanix Blog

At Nutanix, we care for the global communities where we live and work, and promote a culture of empathy and giving back. Over the past few weeks, it was my honor to launch Nutanix’s new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program aptly named .heart.


Introducing Nutanix X-Powered Services | Nutanix Blog

When you look for an on-premises datacenter solution or a managed service, you want to be sure that the technology powering your services is based on industry-leading cutting-edge solutions that provide performance, reliability, and scale.


Introducing Docker For Windows Server 2016 | Docker Blog

Microsoft is announcing the general availability of Windows Server 2016 at the Ignite conference in Atlanta. For Windows developers and IT-pros, the most exciting new Windows feature is containers, and containers on Windows Server 2016 are powered by Docker.


6 Places to Visit While in Vienna | Nutanix Community Blog

This year, Nutanix is hosting it's first .NEXT conference in Vienna and we are super excited to be there. In addition to the cool technical sessions, Vienna is a beautiful place and if you are staying a few extra days, here are a few spots you might want to check out and enjoy.


8 Major Products Unveiled At Microsoft Ignite 2016 | CRN

Microsoft is seeking to do more than just solve problems for the IT professionals it serves; the company said Monday in connection with its Ignite 2016 conference. The company is seeking to provide opportunities for IT professionals to drive the "digital transformation" of the businesses they work with -- making IT much more of a value-add than it once was.


Configuring Iometer Performance Tests on Nutanix the Right Way | Nutanix Community Blog

On the Solutions & Performance team at Nutanix, we’re often working with customers or prospective customers to help them identify what they really need their hyperconverged infrastructure to do and how to evaluate their platform options based on those specific requirements.


Announcing the launch of Windows Server 2016 | TechNet

I’m incredibly excited that this morning at our Ignite conference in Atlanta we launched the newest release of our server operating system – Windows Server 2016! Now that we’re ready to share it with the world, I want to take a moment to thank our customers who helped shape this exciting release.


Bolt for Gold with All-flash Platforms | Nutanix Community Blog

As the XXXI Olympic Games came to a close, we were again reminded of the dedication required to compete at extraordinary levels. Athletes such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack to be the fastest and the most consistent.


Microsoft Ignite On-Demand | Microsoft Ignite

Watch 800+ hours of idea-provoking content including Microsoft Ignite keynotes, overviews, deep dives, and more.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup, and you can always continue the conversation on our community forums.  

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


One of the fun things about participating in an online community is developing a community identity. One way to do that is with a personalized avatar.

Read More: How to Change Your Community Profile Avatar