Oct 01 2020

Nutanix Clusters Run Multicloud Environments Efficiently and Bring Legacy Apps to the Cloud

Available now for AWS, the service will expand to Microsoft Azure and others in the near future.

As more federal agencies move to the cloud and employ cloud-based services, the complexity of their IT environment grows. Nutanix has already helped countless agencies simplify and scale their infrastructure efficiently with hyperconverged infrastructure, and is now taking steps to help them work seamlessly inside complex cloud environments. Greg O’Connell, senior director for federal, explains how the company’s Clusters offering delivers a hybrid cloud infrastructure in a multicloud environment.

FEDTECH: Explain how a hybrid cloud and a multicloud work together.

O’CONNELL: Hybrid cloud is an architecture where different instances of cloud are knit together as a seamless pool of resources across which application workloads can be run without any degradation of service or availability. We refer to this as an application mobility fabric, a seamless, transparent experience, being able to move your applications and services between and across cloud platforms. It can be any combination of on- or off-premises public and private cloud, or it can be a distributed, edge-based cloud.

Multicloud is more of an operating model or an environment — more than one cloud in use at the same time to meet your organization’s needs, but not knit together for various reasons. Your organization might have specialized needs like using Office 365 for office productivity apps, or else some specialized artificial intelligence or machine learning services for an advanced predictive maintenance application. That’s two different clouds, two different services independent of one another. 

DISCOVER: See how Nutanix can help you meet your federal agency’s technology needs. 

FEDTECH: What technology do you need to make all of this work efficiently?

O’CONNELL: When we look at private, public and hybrid cloud, it comes down to three components. First, hyperconverged infrastructure, which Nutanix pioneered. It’s all based on the simple concept of using software intelligence to eliminate hardware complexity. HCI enables hybrid cloud infrastructure, and you’re getting all the virtues of public cloud through a private instantiation. This is the core foundation of hybrid cloud: the core software intelligence that allows you to scale infinitely on your choice of hardware, and seamlessly migrate your applications between and across actual cloud platforms.

Another component is a unified management platform that gives you the ability to provision, migrate, update and automate everything from one console. For example, our software running in Amazon Web Services gives you the ability to not only manage Nutanix inside of AWS, but manage AWS inside of AWS from a Nutanix console.

The third is cost optimization and governance. Nutanix Xi Beam is a multicloud cost optimization service that provides Federal organizations visibility and analytics into cloud consumption patterns. Beam, which has its FedRAMP ATO, identifies idle and underutilized resources, and delivers recommendations to right-size your infrastructure services. The net of it is, simple, software-driven architecture, managed from a common platform, and cost visibility and controls are the keys to get the desired efficiencies from hybrid cloud.

READ MORE: How can security keep up with multicloud environments? 

FEDTECH: Talk about your new service, Nutanix Clusters, and how it streamlines cloud operations.

O’CONNELL: Nutanix Clusters for AWS allows agencies to run Nutanix software in a public cloud environment. During our .NEXT conference in early September, we announced that Clusters will soon be available in Microsoft Azure, and then of course in others yet to be named. 

Clusters works the same way Nutanix works in an on-premises environment. You can run Nutanix software on your choice of hardware. Our vision for Clusters is to make it possible for Federal organizations to run Nutanix software in their choice of cloud. Just as we envisioned hyperconverged infrastructure in the data center, we’re now bringing that same vision to live in the form of hyperconverged clouds. From one unified console, users have the ability to provision applications and services in AWS, and even use AWS credits to pay for it. Now you can run Nutanix and have that that same seamless experience and that same reduction in complexity and consumer grade design inside of AWS, and soon Microsoft Azure, and then others.

FEDTECH: What changes to the environment happen with Clusters?

O’CONNELL: It’s really about on-demand elasticity, and how much IT Federal organizations want to – let’s say, rent, versus own. There may be certain instances where agencies have major peaks in what’s demanded of their IT resources, like the Internal Revenue Service at tax time or the Social Security Administration at the end of the month where they’re preparing checks to send to their recipients. Those organizations temporarily need extra capacity during those acute times, but don’t necessarily need to own the volume of technology that those peak times require, all year round. Being able to run Nutanix inside AWS, and to scale those resources on-demand to support those peak moments, and then scale back and return the resources to run on-premises is power that Federal agencies don’t have today. 

That power – to lift and shift applications to the cloud, and consolidate data centers, without having to rearchitect those applications – can accelerate the Federal government’s ability to use and optimize their vast IT resources in ways that haven’t been possible because of the constraints of legacy systems. And this enables Federal and Defense organizations to be able to curate the IT environments that best serve their needs, efficiently and elegantly.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Find out how to effectively plan for a hybrid cloud environment.

FEDTECH: Does this help agencies who have to move legacy apps into the cloud?

O’CONNELL: No question. Re-architecting legacy applications is one of the biggest barriers to being able to use cloud more broadly in government. There’s a concept in government referred to as data gravity, where some services need to stay on-prem for performance reasons. Some of the bigger ‘consumer-oriented’ agencies, like IRS and Social Security are still very dependent on mainframes. There are numerous ancillary applications and services that support those mainframes that need to stay very close to that environment because of data gravity. This is exactly why hybrid cloud is so critical in government, because certain things have to remain on-premises, yet you still want to have that cloud-like consumption model and, or, on-demand elasticity.

FEDTECH: How does this work in a classified environment?

O’CONNELL: Special classifications that restrict workloads from running in shared clouds, even those certified for classified workloads, are commonplace in classified environments. But we can still modernize their secure enclaves to operate like a modern cloud service – in other words, a private cloud within the secure enclaves. We can still run and provide the same services to those classified customers. Nothing changes in the way we deliver it; it’s just a matter of subscribing to and meeting the information assurance and security certification requirements that those applications and that data in that classified environment have imposed on them.

READ MORE: Find out how to think through all of the costs associated with a cloud migration.

FEDTECH: What would a customer need to do with their existing cloud services to deploy Clusters?

O’CONNELL: The beauty if this is that if it’s a supported cloud like AWS, literally nothing needs to be done. It’s simple to adopt, just a matter of using AWS credits or ordering the software.

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