At its inaugural .NEXT Europe conference, Nutanix has extended its one-click data centre automation capabilities to include network visualisation, security and orchestration, and has expanded its existing set of APIs.

The company says digital transformation, the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and proliferation of mobile-first apps have triggered a major rethink in the way software is built, deployed and scaled. Modern applications are being developed with flexible architectures using smaller, more independent modular services. While these new application architectures have improved overall IT agility, they have also exposed a multitude of IT challenges – visibility of application interdependencies for troubleshooting, new security threats and a dearth of unified management tools.

Instant triage across the stack

The rapid growth in the number of workloads puts more pressure on IT teams to monitor the end-to-end infrastructure to ensure that applications are meeting performance and availability SLAs. Without a single, unified view of all infrastructure resources (including the network environment), identifying, isolating and correcting issues becomes overly complex and time-consuming. Common challenges, such as VLAN misconfigurations, take hours to diagnose and fix, resulting in application downtime and lost revenue.

“In addition to delivering valuable, at-a-glance insight into server, virtualisation and storage resources, Nutanix Prism will now provide application-centric visualisation of the network. Rather than rely on a panoply of tools from different vendors, IT teams get a comprehensive view of the physical and virtual network topology. This includes an intuitive view of how individual virtual machines (VMs) are connected to the physical and virtual network infrastructure, as well as providing detailed health and performance statistics of the network environment. Built-in network visualisation enables data centre managers to instantly identify and triage network issues that impact on application SLAs,” says Paul Ruinaard, regional sales manager, Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix.

Built-in microsegmentation

Modern application environments are composed of hundreds or thousands of individual applications and services, with each a possible point of attack. An internal application that has been compromised poses a serious threat to all other workloads running in the enterprise data centre. Microsegmentation technologies have been available for some time to address these internal threats by controlling east-west traffic between applications, but widespread adoption has been slowed by the complicated setup and management commonly demanded by large-scale SDN deployments.

Tightly integrated into the company’s cloud infrastructure stack, Nutanix Acropolis Microsegmentation Services (AMS) will conduct a stateful inspection, monitor and govern communication flows between individual workloads to provide a more secure application environment. Application-specific policies will be defined within Nutanix Prism, giving IT teams a unified control plane to manage and secure communications between VMs, container-based applications and microservices running in a common environment. Nutanix AMS can be deployed in just minutes, and will obviate the need to invest in large and complex SDNs to protect the application environment.

“Moving to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform has already allowed us to shift our focus to delivering value back to our business,” says Alexandre Delen, MD at Delen Private Bank, based in Belgium. “With the addition of microsegmentation services, we can be confident that our critical applications will be secure without having to overlay an entirely new virtual network topology.”

Orchestrate Networking and Security Services with One-Click

Orchestrating the various network services required for application delivery is not only complex and error-prone, it can slow the modernisation of enterprise data centres. Achieving more agile, dynamic and cloud-like infrastructure demands that networks be made invisible, just like compute and storage resources, so that IT teams can refocus efforts on delivering applications critical to the business.

Nutanix Acropolis provides simple and open APIs that allow for automated policy updates to top-of-rack (ToR) switches, application delivery controllers (ADCs) and firewalls based on application lifecycle events. This provides Nutanix administrators a streamlined and automated application deployment workflow. Leading switch vendors including Arista, Brocade, Mellanox and Plexxi, as well as security and ADC and security vendors such as Citrix and F5 Networks can now automate network provisioning and modify policies in real-time based on application and IT lifecycle changes.

Additionally, virtualised network and security services can be intelligently inserted into the application environment based on app-centric policies, ensuring that the proper services are applied to each application and are executed in the right sequence. These services will complement Nutanix’s native visualisation and network security capabilities, providing advanced application inspection and threat mitigation capabilities. Prominent security vendors such as Illumio and vArmour can use the service insertion and orchestration capabilities to enable turnkey, fully orchestrated security solutions that provide advanced security enforcement and threat mitigation, and drastically reduce operational complexity.

IT teams benefit from Nutanix Prism serving as a single point of control for all infrastructure resources, along with seamless network integration so that network-based services instantly adapt to changes in the virtual environment.

“Businesses clearly see the value in converging the data centre to reduce complexity, but stopping at storage and virtualization is not enough. Networking and security are integral functions that can no longer be treated as piecemeal add-ons that introduce more complexity and distract IT from delivering value back to the business,” says Ruinaard. “We’re committed to making the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform the de facto standard for companies looking to reduce IT complexity while benefitting from the complete integration of all IT infrastructure, from storage to security.”

Network visualisation and the initial set of APIs for network orchestration will be available by January 2017. The remaining capabilities are under development.