Nutanix held its annual US conference in New Orleans, Louisiana May 8th through 10th. Keeping in line with the company’s sales and market share growth, the attendance this year of nearly 5500 people was also setting records. There were significant product announcements, informative break out sessions, a bustling vendor exhibit hall and a vibrant community area for people to hang, connect and share experiences. NEXT 2018 was my second Nutanix conference (last year being in Washington DC) and New Orleans didn’t disappoint. So many good places to grab good food & drink, experience the 300 years of history and vibrant culture in NOLA and “let the good times roll” with friends new and old.
Day Zero: The Pre Game
For me, the conference experience started a day earlier on Monday where I participated in Customer Advisory Board (CAB). This is one of my favorite parts of the week since it gives an under the covers look into what’s going on inside Nutanix, discussions with executives and product managers and a while day to share and experiences, especially the not so good ones, giving feedback on how small and large customers from all verticals would like to see Nutanix develop its products. Unfortunately, this session is 100% NDA so no spoilers available here, but I can say this: All levels of leadership, every developer, every SE and each support engineer have one thing in mind and that is “Customer Delight”. A company doesn’t maintain NPS scores of over 90 for four years in a row by chance. Why? Because Nutanix listens to feedback and is able to deliver results. During the conference a customer said, “Nutanix support is so good, I’m going to call them if I have a bump in my marriage. I think they could fix that too!” I don’t doubt it either.
Also discussed in CAB was consumption models and licensing. As Nutanix now offers three options for running hardware: Appliance (NX Hardware), OEM (Dell, Lenovo, IBM) and Software (HPE, Cisco, Dell) there are many questions around how licensing works. This becomes especially true as more products are developed that add go beyond core products and span private and public clouds. With the appliance model, software is tied to the hardware. This means when the hardware reached its end of life and is retired, the software licenses retire with it. Talks shifted to capex versus opex models for purchases where many customers still prefer to capitalize hardware costs but want the subscription style option. This is a perfect example of how Nutanix is asking for customer input to make even the purchasing experience line up with expectations. Regardless of how this turns out, it was made emphatically clear that NX hardware will remain an option for customers. (And I think this is good news)
Days One & Two: Product Announcements
No conference is complete without some major announcement of new product offerings. Others have already blogged about these (like fellow NTC Russ Cantwell at www.racscale.com) and I’ll have more info in weeks to come but before the TL;DR version here is an overview.
Breaking down the Nutanix portfolio of products into three levels of “invisibility” we have:
- Invisible Infrastructure
- Acropolis OS (AOS) – Enhanced replication and Run books for DR (think SRM and Zerto)
- Acropolis File Services (AFS) – Enhanced management tools for monitoring connections, performance and scaling, support for NFS v4 and API extensibility
- Object Storage Services (OSS) – No new updates here that I recall, but “watch this space” as they say
- Database Services (Era, which is a name, not an acronym) – Similar to AWS RDS, Era provisions Oracle RAC, Postgres and MySQL. Through use of snapshots, you can clone databases within a Nutanix cluster and use for testing, analytics, etc. Not GA yet
- Invisible Datacenters
- Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) – Nothing earth shattering for AHV announcements but recent versions enhance Turbo mode and include support for vNUMA
- Prism Pro – Leverages machine learning to detect and alter on anomalies, make recommendations for right sizing VMs and schedule reports for distribution
- Flow (SDN) – This one is a big one for networking in the Nutanix space. Flow offers visualization and virtualization of networks, East/West microsegmentation, plus service instrumentation and chaining
- Xi (DRaaS, XaaS…) – Nutanix’s own cloud service for replicating workloads to achieve 1-click DR protection with non-disruptive testing.
- Invisible Clouds
- Calm (Application Automation and Multi-cloud Management) – Using blueprints for application provisioning and an App marketplace Calm provision Infrastructure as Code into AHV, vSphere, AWS and GCP.
- Beam (Cost Operations and Compliance) – Provides insights in to usage and costs in AWS and Azure workloads. Allows for budgets to be assigned to cost centers and have policies enabled to enforce those budgets.
- Xi (DRaaS, XaaS…) – Same as above. Xi spans both datacenter and cloud so it gets mentioned twice 🙂
Even though the conference was only three days, I felt like I have 10 days of experiences. Catching up with friends and meeting Twitter friends was a highlight. I had my first taste of pod casting with @ExploreVM and finally met vCommunity giant @AngeloLuciani in person.
Another notable experience for me was speaking in a break out session on the importance of infrastructure on application performance for retailers.
And finally, on the last day, I get a DM on Twitter from Nutanix saying I’d won the Intel NUC they gave away for the #NEXTConf tweet contest. This is going straight to the home lab!
Planning NEXT 2019 is already underway with session topic ideas, whether break outs community or both! Anaheim CA 2019 or bust.