New Nutanix Community Edition Release (2017.07.20)

Hot off the press is the community edition of Nutanix AOS, Community Edition (CE) 2017.07.20. For what’s new in AOS, see my post here. You can find all the direct download links at the end of this post in the Next community. As always, you can perform a simple 1-click upgrade via our PRISM GUI.

Nutanix AFS 2.1.1 Released

Hot off the press is Nutanix AFS 2.1.1 (Nutanix File Services). In case you don’t know, AFS is a web-scale “NAS” that runs in a highly available configuration on Nutanix clusters. This has several important new features, plus a number of resolved issues. New features include:

  • AFS Sizing workflow at time of deployment
  • Ability to rename AFS clusters
  • Ability to clone AFS on AHV (used for backups, DR testing, recovery, etc.)
  • Microsoft Management console support for AFS management
  • Ability to manage AFS permissions via the file server administrator role (which can be linked to a AD user or group)

The full release notes can be found here. You can download the new package here.

Nutanix AOS Released

Today I am glad to announce the general availability of Nutanix AOS This is a patch release, but it also has a few new features. Of interest to you will be the security patches (11 total), and a good sized list of resolved issues. You can find the full AOS release notes here and download the package here. Before any upgrade, do thoroughly read the release notes and make sure any prerequisites are met. There’s also a good Installation and Upgrades document here, which is a must-read before you upgrade.

New Features include:

  • Nutanix API v3 tech preview
  • GA of software-only support on Cisco UCS-B series servers
  • Expanded support for vSphere 6.5 (e.g. Dell XC)
  • Full support for ESXi 6.5a and vCenter 6.5

As always, this AOS update can be done via PRISM and our 1-click upgrade process. Zero downtime, and zero vMotions are needed. Customers often do AOS upgrades during the daytime. This release hasn’t yet been enabled for automatic download (it will in the coming weeks), so if you want it before the automated downloads are enabled just grab the gz package from our portal. If you are brand new to Nutanix and never done an AOS upgrade, feel free to call support. It’s dead easy and 100% GUI driven, but help is here if you want it.

If you haven’t yet upgraded to the 5.1 release train, now is a great time to do so.

Backing up NVMe PC to the cloud – pick wisely

Normally I don’t blog about home PC topics, but I haven’t blogged for a bit and came across something today that I thought was worth mentioning. Basically, this is a quick review of Acronis True Image 2017. About 18 months ago I wanted to backup my PC to the cloud, as I have more than 1TB of travel photos from all over the world that are irreplaceable. I use OneDrive for my documents, so they were safe. After doing some extensive research back in early 2016 I settled on Carbonite for my PC backup. It was highly rated, and also had unlimited cloud storage.

Fast forward to today, and my home PC started acting up. Not sure what caused it, but Windows 10 was crashing and freezing on me. It came to the point where I thought about restoring to my last good backup instead of trying to troubleshoot the root cause. My home PC (and laptop) are pretty new and have NVMe drives. It really didn’t cross my mind that could be a problem for restoring from a backup with Carbonite.

As it turns out, from everything I could tell, Carbonite has been slow on the NVMe uptake and do not support booting from their recovery media and restoring to NVMe. I found a reference on their site that said NVMe was specifically not supported. They also have a very long laundry list of file extensions that are excluded from a cloud backup (but can be backed up via their local mirror option). Needless to say, I was not happy with Carbonite when it came to doing a restore.

So after more research today, I settled on Acronis True Image 2017 Next Generation. It has a number of  unique security features, such as anti-ransomware protection (important to me), digitally signed backups via blockchain, universal restore (restore a backup to dissimilar hardware), and can also backup your phone to the cloud. They also have Facebook integration for backing up all your FB photos, videos, and posts. I had used Acronis previously (in 2014), and knew recovery disk and baremetal restores were their bread and butter. I also did research on NVMe support, and it looked like I was good to go on that front.

I downloaded the trial of the premium version of Acronis True Image 2017, and was pleased at the simple installation procedure. I configured a cloud backup job, and also a local backup job to an external USB drive. I then proceeded to make a WinPE based recovery media USB stick using the MVP Custom Media tool. That was pretty easy to do. I booted from the USB stick on my NVMe Lenovo 910 and viola! It recognized my drive and if I needed, I could easily restore my data.

I now feel a lot better about being able to restore my data in case I need to re-image a computer from scratch. You can also easily inject your own drivers into the WinPE image to recognize things like NICs, WiFi, etc. So there’s a lot of room to customize the recovery image, if needed. There are also a lot more backup controls than Carbonite, and has other features like ‘clone disk’ and ‘drive cleanser’, all of which could be useful. I also installed their client on my iPhone, and started a full cloud backup. Here’s a screenshot of the main dashboard.

Acronis True Image 2017I’ll continue to use Carbonite on my PC until my subscription runs out. Can’t hurt to have files in two clouds, although Carbonite isn’t a full cloud backup whereas Acronis does backup everything (or you can select what you want via partitions or folders/files).

Bottom line, if you have backup software, make sure you can restore from it on your hardware! Today we aren’t just dealing with simple SATA drives so don’t assume if you have a fancy NVMe or PCIe drive that you can restore to it from bootable media. If you do want to purchase Acronis True Image 2017, be sure to do it through the portal for 20% cash back.

Nutanix VirtIO 1.1 Drivers Released

If you are a Nutanix customer and using AHV (Acropolis Hypervisor), I have some great news for you. We have released VirtIO 1.1 drivers, and the big deal is that they are now Microsoft WHQL signed. I know the lack of signing was holding back some customers for production workloads. No longer!

VirtIO 1.1And there’s a nice Nutanix install wizard:

Nutanix VirtIOPlease do note, this signed driver package is for 64-bit operating systems only. The supported operating systems are:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8.x
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

You can directly download the drivers from here. We have them in both .MSI format and ISO, depending on your needs. All of the related documentation can be found here, including the special case of 32-bit operating systems. And don’t forget, if you want to inject the VirtIO drivers into your Windows ISO, check out my blog post here.

Nutanix AOS 5.1 & Companions are now GA

For the second time this year, Nutanix has released a major feature upgrade to AOS and companion software. Now available, is AOS 5.1! Top of the list of new features is vSphere 6.5 support for NX platforms (Nutanix branded gear). vSphere 6.5 support for OEM platforms is coming soon. But that’s not the only new feature. Here’s a rundown of some (not all) of the new features:

  • 1-click controller VM (CVM) memory upgrade
  • XenServer support on NX-1065-G5, NX-3060-G5, NX-3175-G5 (optionally with NVIDIA M60)
  • All-flash clusters now support adding hybrid nodes (e.g. cold storage only nodes). Minimum 2 AF nodes.
  • Automatic “admin” account password sync across all CVMs, Prism Web console, and SSH interfaces.
  • Docker container management through self-service portal.
  • Prism 1-click feature to install Docker host VM
  • Post-process compression is enabled by default on all new containers with Pro and Ultimate licenses
  • 1-click centralized upgrades from Prism Central
  • 1-click Prism central cluster registration and Prism Central Deployment
  • Pulse (telemetry) enabled for Prism Central
  • Auto-resolved alerts
  • User defined alerts
  • Graphics and compute mode for NVIDIA M60 GPU
  • CHAP authentication for Acropolis Block Services
  • Hot-plug CPU and memory on AHV VMs
  • Metro availability and synchronous replication supported across hardware vendors (NX, Dell, Lenovo). Async support continues.
  • VirtIO drivers updated to v1.1
  • Dynamically increase EC-X strip size as cluster is expanded
  • Much improved storage efficiency reporting in Prism (compression, dedupe, EC-X, etc.)
  • Disk rebuild time estimation
  • AFS supports Mac OS v10.10, v10.11, v10.12
  • Acropolis Block Service enhanced OS support (Solaris 11, RHEL 6, 7, 6.8)

Tech Preview Features include:

  • Software only support for UCS B-series blades
  • GPU pass-through for AHV guest VMs
  • Support 3rd-party network function VMs (e.g. load balancer, firewall, etc.) routed through Open vSwitch (OVS).

Companion Software Updates

  • Prism Central 5.1
  • Acropolis File Services (AFS) 2.1
  • Acropolis Container Services (ACS) 1.0
  • Foundation 3.7.2

Helpful Links

As of 5/1/2017, AOS 5.1 has not been enabled for automatic download and 1-click upgrades. As always, if you don’t want to wait for the automatic download switch to be flipped (in the near future), you can grab the AOS binary from the support portal and use our 1-click upgrade process. As always, thoroughly read the full release notes on the support portal before attempting an upgrade.

Nutanix AHV (Hypervisor) Update Released

Fresh off the press, is an updated version of the Nutanix hypervisor, AHV. Today we released AHV-20160925.43. Features include broader support for the AOS 5.0.x family, and a tech preview feature of hot plugging memory and CPU on VMs. A number of bug fixes were also incorporated. Noteworthy, is a network stack issue that has been fixed. This issue could be experienced by any customer, so upgrading is encouraged.

If you are using AHV, you are encouraged to check out the release notes here. AHV is 1-click upgrade enabled, so you can easily update your cluster in an automated fashion with no VM downtime.


VMware Horizon 7.1 is now GA

About a month ago, VMware released news of an updated version of Horizon, version 7.1. As it turns out, the day it was announced I was at a customer site doing a Horizon install and they were all excited about the 7.1 features. They were most interested in Blast Extreme with the adaptive transport. Now, the wait is finally over to get your hands on the bits. In case you missed what’s new 7.1, check out this great VMware blog post here.

A small sample of new features includes:

VMware Blast Extreme
URL Content Redirection Enhancements
Horizon for Linux 7.1 Desktops Enhancements
Improved Smart Card Authentication
Enhanced Instant Clones
Pod Cloud Architecture Enhancements
ADM and ADMX Template files
Enhanced IPv6 Support

And more!

Full release notes are here.

VMware Workstation/Fusion and vSphere 6.5b Released

Hot off the press, are three updates for VMware products. First, Workstation Pro 12.5.4 was released, which addresses a critical security issue. According to VMware “This vulnerability might allow a guest to execute code on the operating system that runs VMware Workstation 12 Pro.” You can read the full release notes here. The dowload is available here. Fusion was also struck by the same bug, and has been updated to 8.5.5. Those release notes are here.

Applicable to a broader audience, is a minor patch release for vSphere 6.5, called vSphere 6.5b. Not much is “new”…just enhancement to timezone features, and additional HTML5 Web client functionality. A number of bugs are addressed, which is to be expected. One notable change is that users without any vCenter permissions are now not able to login to the web client. Previously, any user (typically via AD) could login to the web client but they would not see any inventory since they had zero permissions. Now, unless you have explicit vCenter permissions it will not allow you to login.

The full vSphere 6.5b release notes are located here.

Critical Zerto 5.0 update for Nutanix customers

If you are a Nutanix customer, and using Zerto, Zerto has release a very critical patch. Unpatched, the bug could result in data integrity issues. This has been seen in the field, particularly with Microsoft SQL. So it’s very imperative that you review the Zerto release notes and upgrade to Zerto 5.0 U2 ASAP.

The issue manifests itself during CVM failover operations and result in lost writes.  These failover operations are normally transparent to the guest, and in no way interrupt the normal I/O data path. The Nutanix business critical apps team was able to reproduce the issue in house at will, and confirmed Zerto 5.0 U2 has resolved the issue. Zerto is a great partner, and they were extremely helpful in resolving this issue. The issue is not exclusive to SQL, but is more readily apparent since DBAs do routine integrity checks which will fail if the bug has been triggered.

I do not know if versions prior to 5.0 U2 (such as the 4.x version) will receive the patch. Check with your Zerto account team. If the patch won’t be back ported, then you need to plan on upgrading to 5.0 U2 ASAP. We have many joint customers, that absolutely love the Zerto features coupled with Nutanix simplicity.

My boss, Michael Webster, also has a write up about this issue which you can find here.

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