Nutanix unveils three new tools for increased cloud security, visibility, management

Nutanix is following up a busy 2017 with several new products and services.

The San Jose-based cloud software company has unveiled three new offerings at its fourth annual .NEXT Conference in New Orleans on May 9, 2018: Nutanix Flow, a software-defined networking (SDN) solution for multi-cloud environments; Nutanix Era, a private cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution for database operations; and Nutanix Beam, a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering to manage business spending, security, and regulatory compliance. Read below for specific details.

SDN solution securing apps with a single click

Flow is an automated application-centric security solution to protect against both internal and external threats that may be missed by traditional perimeter-oriented security products. It offers real-time visibility thanks to Nutanix’s recent acquisition of cloud monitoring company Netsil, and is also fully integrated into Nutanix’s Acropolis software for easy deployment.

“Flow provides one-click networking and delivers automation along with native micro-segmentation services to protect applications from both internal and external threats,” Greg Smith, vice president of product and technical marketing, tells CDN. “It helps automate the configuration of security policies for networking devices operating in the cloud environment, and the micro-segmentation means it provides faithful firewall services for each and every application. It governs the traffic flow between these different services, which is called ‘east and west traffic’.”

He continues to say that Flow’s security policies ensure that only legal and permitted traffic goes in and out of every virtual machine in the environment.

According to Nutanix, Flow provides:

  • Network Visualization – giving application owners an at-a-glance view of network performance and availability per application
  • Application-centric Microsegmentation – providing granular control and governance for all application traffic to protect sensitive workloads and data
  • Service Insertion and Chaining – integrating additional network functions from multiple Nutanix Ready ecosystem partners into a single networking policy
  • Network Automation – streamlining and automating common network configuration changes, like VLAN configuration or load balancer policy modifications, based on application lifecycle events for VMs running on Nutanix AHV

“Flow is the functional piece that rounds out our infrastructure-as-a-service portfolio. It helps businesses visualize their IT performance for easier troubleshooting and diagnostics, and allows application owners or cloud operators to get that information without needing a dedicated networking team,” Smith adds.

Flow is available today through Nutanix’s channel partners and is also built into the company’s Enterprise Cloud OS so existing users can turn it on instantly.

New database services reduce costs and complexity

According to market research firm IDC, 60 per cent of enterprise storage capacity is dedicated to storing copies of data – costs of which are likely to hit $55 billion USD by 2020. As a result, Nutanix Era was developed to streamline and automate database operations.

The offering is a new set of private cloud PaaS services that reduce storage costs and make managing several databases at a time easier and more efficient. It extends the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software’s core infrastructure-as-a-service capabilities for more specific platform-layer services and also offers one-click database cloning or restoring.

It will initially support Oracle and Postgres database engines, with planned support for other popular databases in the future.

“Era does a number of things. It allows organizations to very rapidly provision new database instances of the engine of their choice. They can quickly either add a fresh configuration or an existing configuration to that database, and they can choose the environment in which they want to stand up that database,” Smith explains. “As part of Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS, Nutanix Era will manage all the lifecycle elements for that database, including refreshing it, updating it, scaling it as well as taking care of all the backups and cloning operations.”

It also employs time machine technology, which lets users “select an exact point-in-time copy of a specific database that they can use either to restore their database if there’s an emergency or application developers/devops teams can use that copy for their purposes as they develop new applications,” Smith says. This technology will be extended at a later date to include full database provisioning.

“Time machine is critical technology that fits in with data recovery services. It allows for point-in-time copies of the database and the database logs so that the database can be recreated from any point in time with the contents that it captures up to the last transaction,” he adds.

Nutanix Era is currently being tested by selected customers and will likely be available in the second half of 2018. Pricing details will be made closer to the general release.

Controlling the cloud

And last but not least, Nutanix has also released its first SAP service, Nutanix Beam, which is also the company’s first ever SaaS tool for managing spending, security, and regulatory compliance across nearly any cloud platform. Beam is based on technology from a recent acquisition of cloud solutions provider Minjar, which has already been used to manage more than a billion dollars’ worth of cloud spending across Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

“Beam as a SAP service addresses what we think is both an acute IT problem and a business problem: organizations of all sizes have leapt into public clouds like AWS in hopes of achieving greater IT ability and lower costs, but they’re surprised by the unexpectedly high costs of these cloud services,” Smith points out. “While they like the instant provisioning, they’re shocked by the size of their cloud bills when they come at the end of the month. It’s creating a lot of angst and causing them to re-visit the value of public cloud as well as question how they can get their cloud costs under control.”

As such, Beam provides deep visibility and cost optimization for all the applications running across multiple cloud environments. It has a service that continuously analyzes how organizations consume cloud resources, identifies any underutilized resources as well as opportunities for better sized infrastructure services, and makes recommendations to optimize the overall spending in public clouds.

“For example, I have a set of virtual machines running, but they’re essentially zombies that aren’t serving a useful purpose. We can identify those with Beam and recommend that they be deleted or stopped or at least moved off to a lesser cost resource,” he continues. “We also can identify those applications for which you may have purchased more resources than are needed and we can recommend the right sized cloud instances to support that workload. We can also make recommendations that if a particular application running in a public cloud is consuming or using cloud services that are on demand and we see that there’s long term duration of those workloads, we can recommend that they be moved to reserved instances for lower costs over a longer period of time.”

Smith calls it the “online financial adviser for cloud operators” as it helps businesses track their cloud consumption and make data-driven decisions to balance IT needs and budget constraints.

Additionally, Beam allows users to define custom health check policies for compliance audits, and proactively analyze cloud security operations, while “real-time scans for cloud compliance identify risks and violations,” the company says.

Like the other two releases, Beam is based on Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS and is available now.

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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