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Nutanix Cloud Platform, AOS 6 improve networking, security

Nutanix debuted a new version of its AOS operating system along with new networking features, looking to boost its chances in the increasingly crowded hybrid cloud market.

Nutanix added several new capabilities to its Nutanix Cloud Platform, including a new version of AOS that is better tuned to help users create software-defined data centers and hasten delivery of multi-cloud deployments.

Nutanix AOS version 6 introduces Flow Networking, a network-based virtualization offering that works with the company's AHV hypervisor designed to help users simplify network management. The offering is also intended to make it easier for IT pros and service providers to more easily create virtual private clouds, clouds that have a minimal dependence on hardware switches and routers.

The Flow Networking product also contains VPN capabilities that allow users to extend virtual networks out to any public and private cloud infrastructure. This ability permits users and providers to provision cloud connectivity on demand, eliminating the need for dedicated physical appliances while also reducing costs, Nutanix said.

"We have traditionally been strong with storage and a few years ago extended our capabilities to include compute," said Rajiv Mirani, Nutanix's CTO, in a press briefing. "But what's been missing has been networking. With this release we are adding virtual networking to let customers now build fully virtualized, multi-tenant networks on top of their physical networks."

Rajiv MiraniRajiv Mirani

Being able to layer virtual clouds on top of existing physical networks will allow users to move workloads among different data centers as well as from private and public clouds without a network redesign. It also allows a single virtual network to exist in multiple different locations, Mirani added.

Nutanix also added business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities that are tightly integrated into AOS 6. The new technology lets IT pros use the public cloud as a secondary site and has native metro clustering support for the AHV hypervisor, which triggers automatic failover in the wake of a disaster. The product also features end-to-end encryption to support disaster recovery traffic. Nutanix claims the new features also reduce licensing costs and eliminate pricey standby secondary sites.

Addressing users' interest in creating policies that address the adoption of zero-trust security across multiple clouds, Nutanix is providing features to be part of its Flow Security Central SaaS platform that will automatically create micro-segmentation policies. These micro-segmentation policies are created through a machine-learning planning engine that can analyze users' network traffic and also recommend security policies that defend against virtual-machine workload attacks.

"One of the problems with micro-segmentation has been how to create policies in a brownfield infrastructure where you don't know all the interactions among applications," Mirani said. "But these new capabilities can now automate all that so you can better observe network traffic and see how your applications are talking to one another.''

Adding the new virtual networking and security capabilities to the Nutanix Cloud Platform, which has the ability to run applications across multiple platforms, "including the most critical ones, on premises and in public cloud," Nutanix should improve its competitive position in the market, said Eric Sheppard, research vice president with IDC's infrastructure platforms and technologies group.

The new offerings do not represent any divergence in Nutanix's competitive strategy but rather a continuation along the same path focused on its core user base, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst with Interarbor Solutions, LLC.

During Nutanix's .NEXT conference this week, the company also shared details of a strategic partnership with Citrix Systems, Inc. where each party pledges to offer secure, on-demand access to applications and data from any device by way of Nutanix's HCI and hybrid cloud deployments of Citrix DaaS and Virtual Apps and Desktops services. Citrix officials speaking at the conference said Nutanix will be the preferred choice for all HCI and multi-cloud deployments.

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