Nutanix Brings Networking Into Its Enterprise Cloud Platform

The company that made its name in the hyperconverged infrastructure space is continuing to expand its efforts to offer a complete enterprise platform.

Nutanix platform

Nutanix is adding network visualization and improved security capabilities to its Enterprise Cloud Platform to make it easier for organizations to see and secure applications running on their networks.

Officials with the newly public company said in June that they were looking to push Nutanix beyond its roots as a software provider for the fast-growing hyperconverged infrastructure space by creating a platform that would enable enterprises to build private data center environments that deliver the kinds of tools, flexibility and automation that can be found in public clouds like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Nutanix's Prism management platform already gave customers one-click visibility into servers, virtualization technologies and storage resources running in their data center clouds. At the company's .NEXT Europe Conference Nov. 9, Nutanix announced it is now offering application-centric visualization into the network, a crucial capability for such cloud environments, according to Greg Smith, senior director of product marketing for the vendor.

The fast growth in the number of workloads and applications running over the network—fueled by such trends as the digitization of business, the internet of things (IoT) and the increase in the number of mobile-first apps—makes it important that businesses get a single, unified view of all of their infrastructure, including networks. Such visibility enables IT professionals to better identify and correct issues within the infrastructure.

Organizations traditionally have had to rely on myriad tools from multiple vendors to get the type of network visibility they need, which adds to the complexity of the infrastructure.

"What you have is a highly dynamic application environment but a very manual, laborious network environment," Smith told eWEEK.

With the new technology in Prism, customers can get a comprehensive view of both the physical and virtual network topographies, including how virtual machines (VMs) are connected to the networks and detailed health and performance data from the networks.

In addition, Nutanix is integrating microsegmentation capabilities into the enterprise cloud platform. Microsegmentation technologies are designed to reduce the security risk to other workloads if one of the applications is compromised by controlling the east-west traffic between applications. However, the adoption of microsegmentation has yet to grow quickly because of the complex management environment in software-defined networking (SDN) deployments, according to Nutanix officials.

The company is integrating its Nutanix Acropolis Microsegmentation Services (AMS) within Prism. The service will inspect, monitor and manage communications between VMs, container-based applications and microservices that are running in the common environment. The new microsegmentation capabilities also reduce the need for organizations to deploy huge SDN environments to protect applications.

Acropolis also delivers open APIs that enable enterprises to create automated policy updates to top-of-rack switches, application delivery controllers (ADCs) and firewalls based on application lifecycle events. With the APIs, cloud network vendors like Arista Networks, storage networking companies like Brocade Communications, and ADC and security vendors like Citrix Systems and F5 Networks can automate network provisioning and modify policies in real time.

The network visualization capabilities and the initial set of APIs for network orchestration will be available in January. The other technologies are being developed, Nutanix officials said.

The network capabilities are the next step in the development of the company's Enterprise Cloud Platform, according to Prabu Rambadran, senior director of product and technical marketing at Nutanix. The first move was converging compute and storage to create a hyperconverged infrastructure, with the next being virtualization and data management and to simplify the full data and control planes, Rambadran wrote in a post on the company blog.

"The result was Nutanix AHV virtualization and the plethora of enhancements incorporated into Nutanix Prism—our native management solution," he wrote. "We are now embarking on the next step in this journey—collapsing networking within the same cloud stack."