Running Nutanix with Hyper-V – Things to consider and moving forward with Server 2016

Now Nutanix is one of the few HCI vendors out there that actually support Hyper-V so kudos for that! They’ve also joined the CPS club with their fininshed appliance shipment which comes with Azure Pack which is also one of the selected few partners out there.

Now after having had alot of conversations with customers & consultants running Nutanix and Hyper-V I decided to write a blog post about the pitfalls you should be aware of when using Nutanix and Hyper-V.
Now some key concepts first, when it comes to Hyper-V, Nutanix has built a custom SMB 3 provider which is presented out to the hypervisor which acts like a regular SMB 3 share to Hyper-V, but since this SMB 3 protocol is presented out from the Controller VM which is a linux appliance it does not have the same capabilities that regular SMB 3 has, and also Hyper-V has some limitations that we need to be aware of

  • 1: No CBT support in Hyper-V
  • Since Hyper-V does not have any built-in CBT (Change Block Tracking) Capabilities into the hypervisor, Microsoft has been dependant on backup vendors to provide their own CBT feature typically using a filter driver to detect block changes from day to day (now this will change from Windows Server 2016 with RTC) the problem with for instance using Veeam is that Veeam’s CBT filter only works against native SMB shares from a Windows operating system and not the SMB share that Nutanix presents out to the Hypervisor. So if we want to take backup using Veeam it will have to read the entire VM every day and then filter out what data has not changed instead of just reading the blocks that have changed. Now Nutanix just published a new API for changed block tracking which is hypervisor agnostic, yay! this might allow for things to get fixed without updating to 2016.

    2: No support for NGT
    The Nutanix Guest-tools which allows for instance to do cross-hypervisor conversion and file-level restore is only available for Acropolis Hypervisor and ESXi, which means as of now we cannot use File-level restore function on Nutanix in Hyper-V

    3: No support for Acropolis File Services
    Acropolis File Services which is the ability to deliver distributed SMB share using the same distruted file system underneath using service VM’s to the infrastructure is only available for Acropolis Hypervisor and VMware ESXi

    4: No Crosshypervisor support yet

  • This feature is still in Tech Preview, but as of now it is supported for moving from ESXi –> AHV and back again but not against Hyper-V yet, this is also partly because there is no support for the Nutanix Guest tools yet

    5: No support for Application Consistant Snapshots
    When defining Protection domains and schedules you also have the option to setup if you want to have application consistant snapshots, while this feature is available for AHV and ESXi again this is not supported on Hyper-V since the NGT cannot be used on Hyper-V

    6: ESXi and AHV management from PRISM
    Now Nutanix is working on integrating ESXi Management into PRISM which would allow for an easy way to manage both ESXi and AHV and rest of the infrastructure from PRISM, but it seems there is no immidiate plans to support Hyper-V management from PRISM which is a shame because Hyper-V management in larger enviroments could been alot easier from PRISM (Sorry Microsoft but you should learn something from here…)

    7: Some issues mixing Hyper-V snapshots and Nutanix snapshots
    It also looks like there are some issues mixing Hyper-V snapshots and Nutanix based snapshots ( not sure if this still applies.

  • So those are the points I just wanted to share about, Nutanix and Hyper-V still works great, but the main focus is on ESXi and AHV for new features.

    Now of course there are alot of limitations in Hyper-V compared with ESXi when it comes to handling backup and such, and of course based upon market shared VMware is still on top so it is understandable that new features come to play with ESXi and AHV first and foremost. My guess is that Nutanix will step it up a notch when Windows Server 2016 comes and now has support for Nano Server, RCT and other Hyper-V features like REFS as well which might make it an more robust solution on 2016, and with Rolling cluster upgrades which can be leveraged using one-click upgrade is it going to be interesting how Nutanix will come to play with AzureStack as well.

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