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Nutanix on Cisco Unveiled

On Thursday, August 18th Nutanix announced the availability of their software running on Cisco UCS server hardware. This is important because Nutanix is announcing an offering  between the market leader on hyperconverged infrastructure and one of the world’s largest server hardware manufacturers. It also opens the Nutanix door to those customers that are fully committed to Cisco and will not consider other hardware platforms. It is very important to note that this announcement is not an OEM agreement between Cisco and Nutanix, like the partnership Nutanix has with Dell or Lenovo.

This type of agreement allows Nutanix to decouple the software from the hardware and could potentially allow other server hardware manufactures to use the same model in the future. Nutanix has already done this with the ruggedized platform from the Crystal Group for government and harsh industrial environments.  There is a very well defined list of hardware (HCL) and firmware versions that have been qualified at this point. This list will be kept up to date on the Nutanix website.

Here are known details about this collaborative effort, revealed during my conversations with Nutanix:

  1. The hardware and the software will be sold separately. Qualified partners will be able to sell both and perform the installation.
  2. Only Cisco UCS C-series servers are qualified at this time. There are a total of three UCS models qualified.
  3. Self-Encrypting drives are fully supported.
  4. Not all flash options are available yet but Nutanix is planning them.
  5. There is no GPU support at this point but it is in the works. Customer demand for this could accelerate when it becomes available.
  6. Haswell and Broadwell CPUs are supported.
  7. Most customers have UCS manager and fabric interconnects, which are fully supported. However, for UCS customers with standalone configurations, that mode is also supported.
  8. In terms of minimum or maximum numbers of nodes per cluster, the configuration will not differ from Nutanix, Dell or Levono branded blocks. So, customers will not lose capacity and or potential for growth.
  9. All Nutanix features will work normally, even the one-click upgrades.
  10. Presently, one-click firmware update for Cisco UCS is not available but it is on the drawing board.

cisco_c_series_supported_config_fig1

From a hypervisor support perspective, the usual suspects are supported, ESXi, Hyper-V and I’m personally happy to see the Nutanix AHV (Acropolis Hypervisor) offering as part of the bundle from day one.

cisco_c_series_supported_config_fig2

How will the solution be supported? Since the solution is not a single SKU from either vendor and the software is decoupled from the hardware; if the customer has a hardware issue, the customer should call Cisco and if the issue is related to the software they call Nutanix which is no different with any other non-integrated solution but on the spirit of hyperconvergence and leveraging the great support Nutanix is known for if the customer is unsure of what type of error they are having, Nutanix will take the first call, triage the issue and re-route to Cisco if needed.

cisco_c_series_supported_config_fig3

We are looking forward to the opportunities this combination will bring to the customers and to the partner ecosystem.

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