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With Nutanix Mine, HCI vet adds converged secondary storage

Nutanix prepares to launch its Mine converged secondary storage appliances as it expands beyond primary storage with an architecture that Cohesity and Rubrik have adopted.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Hyper-convergence pioneer Nutanix is adding secondary storage to its product portfolio.

Nutanix today previewed Nutanix Mine at the opening day of its .NEXT user conference. Mine is a backup target that integrates software from data protection partners Veeam Software, HYCU, Commvault, Veritas and Unitrends.

Each Nutanix Mine cluster combines partners' backup software with Nutanix's hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) data fabric and Prism management console. The Nutanix data fabric provides tiering and data reduction. The goal is to manage backup of data on Nutanix appliances in a similar fashion to the way its primary storage is managed.

Nutanix Mine uses SuperMicro hardware, just as the branded Nutanix HCI appliances use. Mine requires a minimum of three nodes in a cluster. Greg Smith, Nutanix vice president of product marketing, said there is no maximum limit on how high Mine will scale. The nodes are available as 2U appliances with 96 TB of raw capacity or 4U 192 TB models.

"We want to hyper-converge everything," Smith said. "We've converged storage for virtual machines, and we've converged storage for file and objects, so customers don't have to stand up and manage independent silos for different use cases. And we're doing the same for secondary storage."

Nutanix's HCI systems combine storage, compute and virtualization. Smith said Nutanix Mine customers will be able to use the same management tools for their primary and secondary storage.

Nutanix Mine customers will be able to use the same management tools for their primary and secondary storage.

Nutanix Mine with Veeam and HYCU software are expected in the second half of 2019. Mine with Commvault, Veritas and Unitrends are planned for later releases.

Ken Ringdahl, Veeam vice president of Global Alliances Architecture, said Mine with Veeam is in beta. Veeam is the only large backup software vendor that does not sell its own integrated appliances. It relies on partners' hardware. Cisco HyperFlex, an HCI competitor to Nutanix, is also sold with Veeam software bundled.

Phil Goodwin, IDC research director for infrastructure systems, said the market is moving toward the integrated approach.

"We find there's a lot more momentum for integrated appliances as opposed to target appliances" without bundled software, Goodwin said. "It has a lot to do with convenience of the installation. It's faster and customers seem to like the integrated appliance better."

HYCU sells backup software specifically for Nutanix HCI and already supports Nutanix capacity-centric nodes that work similarly to Mine. Nutanix Mine with HYCU will include HYCU software licenses and HYCU integration with Prism, support for Nutanix Files and physical server backup.

Will Cohesity and Rubrik customers dig Nutanix Mine?

Nutanix Mine is similar to converged secondary storage systems sold by Cohesity and Rubrik. Those vendors call their products converged secondary storage or sometimes hyper-converged secondary storage. Both Cohesity and Rubrik have common customers to Nutanix and position their appliances as a good fit for hyper-converged primary storage. This is the second recent broadside at those two relative newcomers. Dell EMC PowerProtect appliances launched last week are positioned as secondary data management use cases and scale up similarly to Rubrik and Cohesity appliances.

Several Nutanix customers at the conference said they already have converged secondary storage through Cohesity, whose CEO Mohit Aron was a Nutanix founder and its first CTO. Cohesity also provides capabilities such as cloud tiering and file storage.

The University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communications has used Cohesity backup and file storage since March 2016 and added Nutanix for primary block storage in 2017. Marlon Wenceslao, director of information systems and infrastructure at the school, said he started with Cohesity as a backup target for Veeam software. He switched to Cohesity's DataProtect software because of faster performance, its CloudSpin disater recovery and the ability to use it as a NAS target.

"The Cohesity software is what blows it all out," Wenceslao said. "It was so fast."

He said he may look at Mine at .NEXT, but "we're happy with what we have."

Wenceslao said his experience with Cohesity's converged secondary storage played a role in switching to Nutanix hyper-convergence from a Dell EMC-Cisco Vblock converged infrastructure.

"We were looking for something that was easy to manage," he said. "With converged infrastructure, there were too many components to manage. We had Coehsity and were looking for the same thing for primary storage."

Nutanix Mine for HYCU
Nutanix Mine for HYCU will be among the first Nutanix converged backup appliances to hit the market.

The Wendy's Company also uses Nutanix and Cohesity. Don Murawski, servers and storage manager for the fast food company based in Dublin, Ohio, said it makes sense for Nutanix to get into secondary storage but he is happy with his current setup.

"We're hyper-converged for primary and backup," he said. "Cohesity is secondary storage for some things, but mainly it's going to be backup. Nutanix is production. I didn't want to mix the two; I wanted it separate."

Naveen Chhabra, senior analyst for infrastructure at Forrester Research, said he sees Mine more about Nutanix trying to expand the number of applications that run on its HCI platform than competing with backup vendors.

"Customers will run whatever applications they want to and Nutanix can be the underlying platform," he said. "Nutanix wants to be the platform of choice. It's not the same for Rubrik and Cohesity. They're still looked at as secondary storage while Nutanix is trying to expand its whole IT ecosystem."

Chhabra said Nutanix Mine goes against the vendor's recent shift to a software-centric model. Over the past year, Nutanix has focused less on selling hardware and more on running its software on any type of x86 servers. But with Mine, Nutanix is providing hardware nodes for its partners' backup software. This comes after a slowdown in sales in the last quarter and a forecast for even less growth this quarter.

"They want to switch to a software-only business model, but something like Mine has significant dependence on underlying hardware," Chhabra said. "They're kind of shifting back to the previous business model."

Nutanix broadens Xi cloud for Frame, Leap

Nutanix also expanded its Xi cloud services at .NEXT. Its Xi Frame desktop-as-a-service will run on its Acropolis Hypervisor Virtualization (AHV) inside the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud platform, allowing Frame virtual desktop infrastructure to run on public or private clouds. Xi Frame previously ran only in public clouds. Customers running Frame on AHV can manage Frame across multiple clouds from a single console.

Nutanix also added support for VMware's ESXi hypervisor on its Xi Leap disaster recovery services. It added Leap availability zones in Italy, Japan and Germany to go with its current availability in the U.S. East and West, and the U.K.

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