The industry is experiencing a growing trend of enterprises adopting cloud into their IT infrastructure. This cloud transformation of the workplace promises compelling benefits: agile application/service delivery, simplified and scalable IT infrastructure, and automated management, all of which ultimately improves efficiency and significantly reduces costs, both CapEx and OpEx.
The cloud is a virtualized world. Applications running in the cloud are virtualized and provisioned with high performance and availability, and delivered efficiently as a service to hundreds, thousands or even more concurrent users. The enterprise cloud is often built on a hyper-converged and elastic platform so it can automate resource provisioning and dynamically scale up or scale down as needed.
For all these benefits, most enterprise customers have embraced and migrated many of their applications to a cloud infrastructure, including virtual desktop interfaces (VDI), web services, email servers, and remote/branch office IT. However, business critical applications, which tend be performance sensitive—especially around latency—and require 24×7 non-disruptive uptime, have been kept out of the cloud. IT departments worry that running business-critical applications on a cluster of virtualized, distributed, and software-defined servers in the cloud cannot deliver the needed level of performance, reliability and availability. They thus run business critical applications on dedicated, bare-metal servers.
A common example are OLTP workloads on Oracle RAC, which are very latency sensitive. Transactions always need be completed as stipulated, at any time and at any transaction volume. (In 2016, Alibaba hit over 1 billion transactions on the Singles’ day, or over 100,000 transactions per second through its Wallet app). At the same time, Oracle RAC, based on clustered servers with shared storage, is very susceptible to the latency overhead of ownership transfer between nodes during write transactions. These ownership transfers traverse the cluster network, so with many instances running over a large cluster, any extra network latency could significantly degrade the overall application performance.
Figure 1. Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform with Mellanox Leaf-Spine Network
Is there such a solution that provides the enterprise cloud benefits of scalability, flexibility, and efficiency, while also meeting the performance, reliability and availability guarantees required for business critical applications?
The Nutanix enterprise cloud solution, with Mellanox networking, is exactly the answer to that.
Built on its hyper-converged architecture, the Nutanix solution converges the entire enterprise data center into a fully integrated enterprise cloud platform, replacing the legacy infrastructure of separate compute servers, storage arrays, and storage network. This Nutanix enterprise cloud platform consists of Acropolis™ storage and virtualization services, Prism™ data center automation and analytics, and Mellanox network switches. The Acropolis-based data plane natively converges compute and storage resources. With capabilities of data locality, intelligent tiering, automatic disk balancing and data reduction, Acropolis provides performance acceleration and capacity optimization for storage services and virtualization services especially when run from the native Acropolis hypervisor (AHV).
While the Nutanix Acropolis, which includes high availability, data protection and security capabilities, provides enterprise-class performance, availability and reliability for storage and virtualization services, the Mellanox switch fabric delivers guaranteed low-latency network performance for the Nutanix cluster. This is critical for running business critical applications.
The requirement for the network in this case is a simple but tall order to fill – providing sufficient network bandwidth and negligible additional latency to any data transfers between the nodes. In other words, the network needs be so reliable, fast and consistent that it appears transparent for compute, storage and virtualization services. This ensures that access times to local data or data distributed to another part of the cluster are not discernably different, and that moving an application from one node to the other causes no disruption to the business tasks. And such network transparency needs be maintained regardless of workloads and data volumes. It is very challenging to support such a network, but Mellanox simply delivers the best in transparent networking.
Leveraging its technologies proven and used in the demanding world of high-performance computing (HPC), Mellanox blends its core competence of non-blocking switching, zero packet loss, and consistently low latency, with the enhancement of a larger and dynamically shared buffer as found in the state-of-art Spectrum switch line. These Spectrum SN2000 switches provide line-rate throughput and consistent 300ns port-to-port latency at network speeds of 10Gb/s up to 100Gb/s and using any packet sizes. Combined with fair traffic distribution, optimal microburst absorption and smart congestion management, the Mellanox switches make the network transparent to even the most stringent business critical applications. The consistently low latency of the Spectrum switches is illustrated in the chart below. The full Tolly report is available: http://www.mellanox.com/tolly.
As illustrated in Figure 1, the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform uses the leaf-spine architecture based on Mellanox 100 GbE Spectrum switches to achieve predictable, low latency at any packet size, with linear scalability and lower management overhead than traditional three-tier network infrastructures. High throughput and scalability of the Mellanox switches enable the network to supply sufficient bandwidth for the high-performance NVMe-based SSDs to perform optimally without impacting other applications or services. With performance that actually exceeds bare-metal solutions based on specialized proprietary hardware, the Nutanix and Mellanox solution allows businesses to adhere to stricter service-level agreements, achieve greater responsiveness, and deliver an improved user experience for their business critical applications.
Obviously, Spectrum switches provide more than line-rate throughput and low latency. Spectrum switches make great TOR switches or leaf-spine switches for Nutanix enterprise cloud deployments, small and large. Below are a few more relevant blogs and solution briefs for interested readers:
Mellanox is sponsoring the upcoming Nutanix .NEXT User Conference in Washington D.C. this June 28-30. Come to visit us (Booth #S6), and discover how to make your Nutanix enterprise cloud simple and efficient with Mellanox networking.
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