Nutanix Clusters vs VMware on Azure?

I’ve previosly written about VMware on Azure using the Cloudsimple deployment where the cloudsimple solution is using a set of (dedicated hosts maximum 16) bare-metal servers in Azure to provide a VMware validated design setup within Microsoft Azure datasenter. The VMware solution is essentially running as its own ecossystem within Microsoft’s datacenters. Management of the VMware solution is done mostly trough vCenter and some of the objects is published trough the Cloudsimple web portal.

Image of Azure VMware Solution private cloud adjacency to Azure and on-premises

The Cloudsimple solution is running NSX-T that has its own network overlay (VXLAN) it means that native networking in Azure is not available on the same layer 2 network. Which means that network management needs to happen within Azure and also within VMware NSX to for instance ensure connectivity between VMware based services and to for instance PaaS services within Azure. Now this might not be an issue if they could have built some management overlay which can automatically configure the network between the two networking stacks, but they didn’t. The same applies for VM based management, which means that virtual machines needs to be managed from both Azure and VMware management plane. Since Cloudsimple is also not a native ARM resource which means that automation will be limited to using a third party provider to work directly against VMware (such as Terraform) after the solution is setup.

So how will Nutanix Clusters on Azure differ from VMware in that regard?
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Now after digging into the marketing news that came out, there isn’t that much information available on how the solution works. We know that is running on bare-metal servers in Azure with Nutanix AOS on top. Like the VMware solution is not able to utilize the same software-defined network stack as Azure. This means that you most likely from a networking perspective you would still need to manage two different networking architectures.

But given Nutanix’s vision of simplicity I’m guessing that they will be bringing more ease of management into their software stack whic can most likely manage virtual infrastructure directly from within their management plane. Regardless it seems like Nutanix on Azure will also suffer from the lack of being a second class citizen within Microsoft Azure. Being that sure you can integrate PaaS services in Azure into Nutanix but nothing more then using a network tunnel between the PaaS service and Nutanix.

So why use Nutanix Clusters on Azure?

So who would the main customers be to use Nutanix on Azure compared to running VMware on Azure? a bit to early to define how this will be both in pricing/performance/ease of management compared to running native or VMware on Azure, but one of the main points of the announcements was

  • Unified hybrid and multicloud infrastructure platform across Nutanix, Azure, and other supported public clouds.

Essentially that Prism will provide a unified management plane across Nutanix clusters regardless of running AWS, Azure or Private Cloud. This also can provide as a great DR option or extra capacity (if needed). So if you already have Nutanix can make this as a great option to extend to provide more capacity, or DR options. It still is a bit to early to say how well integrated this solution would be. But hopefully Nutanix will make it easy to manage and setup networking, infrastructure and other data services on top of their existing Prism management plane.



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