Spinning up a Nutanix Cluster in the Cloud – Nutanix Clusters on AWS

Compared to other solutions, it always has been a reasonable easy and fast task to build and implement a new HCI Cluster with Nutanix. However, with the new Nutanix Clusters on AWS offering it’s gotten even faster, easier and more flexible. Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking it is: Create a new Nutanix AHV Cluster in the cloud on Amazon Web Services AWS!

Compared to other solutions, it always has been a reasonable easy and fast task to build and implement a new HCI Cluster with Nutanix. However, with the new Nutanix Clusters on AWS offering it’s gotten even faster, easier and more flexible. Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking it is: Create a new Nutanix AHV Cluster in the cloud on Amazon Web Services AWS!

Nutanix Clusters dramatically reduces the operational complexity of migrating, extending or bursting your applications and data between clouds. You can use a single management plane to manage both your Nutanix private cloud and your public cloud infrastructure. Easily extend the full Nutanix stack to public clouds.

As a Nutanix Technology Champion (NTC) I had the chance to get early access to Nutanix Clusters on AWS when it was in private preview. I was a bit sceptic first, because I never worked with Amazon Web Services AWS and did not even have an AWS account. Well I jumped in and decided to accept the challenge, it’s always fun to play with new technologies. This is my way of trying to stay up to date and learning new stuff.

The my.nutanix.com portal is the starting point of your journey. From here you can launch the Nutanix Clusters Portal.

Launch the Nutanix Clusters portal from my.nutanix.com

Those of you, who have already seen the Nutanix Frame backend will know the layout and concept of the Nutanix Clusters Portal. Nutanix Frame and Nutanix Clusters share some technology when it comes to the management of public cloud providers and provisioning of cloud resource locations.

Nutanix Clusters Portal

As you can see on the screenshot, there are three main steps involved with creating a Nutanix Cluster on AWS:

  • Create an organization that will house your clusters.
Create an organization
  • Connect to a cloud account (IaaS) to power your workloads.
Connect your AWS cloud account and select the data center

Don’t forget to prepare your account with AWS CloudFormation, which Nutanix makes use of to provision your cluster resources later on.

  • An now for the really interesting part: Create your first Nutanix cluster in the selected AWS data center.
Create Cluster – Select Region – Create a new Virtual Private Network (VPC)

In step one you select the region (available from your cloud account) where you want to run your cluster and create a new Virtual Private Network for you cluster.

Cluster Configuration – Host type and number of host – Software Version and Tier -Prism Access

Step two allows you to size your cluster by choosing a host type, number of hosts, redundancy factor. Here you also create a SSH keys, select the AOS Version and Software Tier (Pro or Ultimate) and have the possibility to add Nutanix Files to your cluster. For my testing I decided to go with the cheapest host type and a single node deployment. Keep in mind we are provisioning quite some serious power on dedicated bare metal instances and those resources are not really cheap.

It’s also in this step, where you define how the clusters Prism interface will be available.

  • Public: Custers Portal will automatically provision a Network Load Balancer that enables access to Prism Element from the Internet.
  • Restricted: User specified list of source IP addresses and ranges will be allowed to access Prism Element. Clusters Portal will create Security Group rules.
  • Disabled: Security Group attached to the Cluster nodes will not allow any access to Prism Element.

Under Advanced Settings you can schedule an automated cluster termination, which is probably a good idea for testing, if you don’t want to break your bank account…

Create Cluster Summary

In your on-prem data center now you would unbox the nodes, mount them into the server rack, patch all those network cables, configure the switches, image the nodes, create the cluster. With Nutanix Clusters on AWS just hit create and take your time for a decent coffee 🙂

30 minutes later…

Running Cluster on AWS

The link Go to Prism Element will take you to the Prism interface of your newly built cluster running on AWS.

Prism Element of the Cluster running on AWS

From here you have access to all the features you already know from your Nutanix AHV clusters running on-prem. You can upload images, create VMs, update your cluster, join a Prism Central instance, etc.

If you have a network connection between your on-prem network and the Amazon VPC you can connect the AWS cluster with your on-prem clusters through Protection Domains and easily lift and shift VMs from your data center to the cloud and back. This true Hybrid Enterprise Cloud approach gives you the benefit of a consistent management and true single plane of glass – be it for your on-prem clusters or clusters running in the cloud.

Another use case coming to my mind is Nutanix Clusters on AWS as a hosting connection within Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. As you might have heard of, Citrix decided to remove the support of AWS and Azure within their on-prem CVAD product, starting with CVAD 2003. Public cloud resource locations are only supported in their Citrix Cloud based CVAD service. Well, since a Nutanix AHV Cluster on AWS behaves exactly the same as a Nutanix AHV cluster in your data center… It’s always good to have options.

If you want to test drive Nutanix Clusters on AWS yourself, head over to https://www.nutanix.com/products/clusters and give it a try.

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