Supercharging your Nutanix AHV Clusters with Compute Only Nodes and save licensing cost

This post was authored by Tanuja Ingale, Sr. Product Manager for AHV

Over the last few years, the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS platform has evolved by leaps and bounds in terms of platform robustness, simplicity in management and continuous innovation from storage and infrastructure level all the way up to multi-cloud multi-application management framework.

Key features such as data resiliency, performance, scalability, and product maturity make Nutanix HCI a truly compelling and complete platform for running a wide-range of workloads. It simplifies deployment of enterprise-class applications and services running in bare-metal, virtualized or cloud-computing environments.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Platform Scalability

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud is an integrated system that natively converges Compute, Storage, Networking and Virtualization, and is managed through a unified management interface of Prism. This hyperconvergence results in significant TCO savings, pay-as-you-grow scale-out performance, a superior operational experience with High Availability, and Software-Defined Data management.

Mission-Critical Enterprise and Big-Data Application readiness

The above features provide performance, administrative ease and simplicity to run mission-critical applications and virtualize licensed databases such as Oracle, Oracle RAC, MS SQL, as well as applications designed for greater agility and scale such as big-data workloads.

Scaling for Specialized Database Workloads

Virtualized databases are an excellent fit for hyper-converged infrastructure, but some enterprises do have challenges with licensing databases such as Oracle, Oracle RAC, and SQL with:

Complex Licensing for Virtualized Databases (Oracle, SQL)

The primary factor causing friction in adoption of virtualization for Oracle, Oracle RAC workloads is the inherent licensing complexity associated with itOracle licensing is typically applicable per individual CPU core.

Virtualization adds a so-called challenge because workloads could potentially get live-migrated across any node in a multi-server cluster. Hence, some are led to believe that *every* physical CPU core in the cluster needs to be licensed because the workload could *potentially* run on any core. Though licensing is between customer and vendor, the uncertainty and doubt make it complicated and customers sometimes end up paying an exorbitant licensing cost for all cores.

To alleviate this problem, some customers either:

  • Choose smaller clusters to limit the number of cores used for Oracle, OR
  • Forego virtualization and hyperconvergence benefits completely, and continue to run on bare-metal as a trade-off, taking a serious hit on performance and management.

Running on bare-metal or using iSCSI redirection has its own challenges such as:

  • Cumbersome management
  • Difficult to scale compute/storage resources
  • Higher TCO, and higher OpEx

The need to scale resources independently (for specific workloads)

With hyperconvergence comes the implicit requirement to scale compute and storage together. The Nutanix platform offers a wide range of choices when it comes to multiple combinations of CPU, Storage and Memory suiting to various workload needs. Even then, some applications may have specific demand for scaling resources primarily in one vector only (either Storage or Compute separately).

With Nutanix’s Storage-Heavy and Storage-Only node offerings, one can easily scale Storage separately, without having to acquire additional Compute. Also for compute-scaling, Compute-Heavy configurations help address additional Compute needs, however, there is still a requirement to purchase some storage with them.

Addressing Database Licensing Challenge with Nutanix

With VM:Host Affinity policy setting available on Nutanix, the database VM is guaranteed to run on the host that it has been affinitized to. However, unfortunately, it is completely up to the software vendor on whether to honor this setting as being in licensing compliance or not.

A more defensible solution might be to mark a node as Storage-Only. The Nutanix platform will ensure that NO User VMs will be scheduled on this host ever unless it is explicitly taken out of the cluster and the Storage-Only marking is cleared.

The blog “Save Money and Gain Control of Licensed Databases on AHV” explains in great detail how one can gain control of licensed databases on AHV using Nutanix’s Storage-Only setting and Audit Trail feature that was released in AOS 5.10.

If you are looking to maximize the licensed CPU cores toward your database workloads further, Nutanix just broadened its spectrum of hardware configuration choices with the introduction of Compute Only nodes on AHV.

Nutanix Introduces AHV Compute Only nodes in AOS 5.11

Nutanix just broadened its spectrum of hardware configuration choices with the introduction of Compute Only nodes on AHV. The Nutanix Compute Only (CO) solution is available with AOS 5.11. It allows seamless expansion of exclusively Compute-only resources of your AHV cluster by the addition of certified servers with no storage. Traditional Server(s) with no storage can be imaged via Foundation as a Compute Only node and joined to an AHV cluster that comprises of Hyperconverged nodes.

Easy Scaling of Exclusively Compute Capacity

Compute Only allows Nutanix customers to drive infrastructure utilization by expanding compute capacity independent of storage. It provides flexible compute ‘services,’ and expands application workload support to CPU-intensive, high performance applications.

Zero Operational Experience Change

Nutanix continues to adhere to its 1-click simplicity with this new feature! Thus, both Hyperconverged and Compute Only nodes can be seamlessly managed via our single-pane of glass management software of Prism. Unlike other vendors in the market, where management is heterogeneous and needs layers of software to manage compute resources separately from storage resources, Nutanix makes it very simple, efficient and seamless.

Seamless Cluster and Life Cycle Management

  • Create Cluster: One can create a mixed cluster comprising of Hyper Converged and Compute Only nodes from scratch using Foundation Imaging.
  • Expand Cluster: Compute Only node can be imaged via Foundation and added to an existing cluster using Prism’s Expand cluster workflow.
  • Life Cycle Management (LCM): Both CO and regular HC nodes can enjoy seamless upgrade capability for AHV and firmware via LCM.


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