Nutanix NOS 1-Click Upgrade

One of the never ending tasks in IT is keeping up with software builds and firmware updates. These are usually a somewhat painful process, may require downtime, and can often get pushed to the back burner of IT life. At Nutanix we recognized that pain point, and starting in NOS 4.0 we’ve introduced one-click upgrades.

What does one click upgrade really mean? It means that NOS can automatically check for newer software versions of NOS, then all from our HTML5 Prism GUI perform a non-disruptive and automated rolling upgrade of our controller VMs. During this time no vMotions are required, no I/O interruption, no host maintenance modes, and no data relocation is required. It’s so easy, even a junior administrator can perform the upgrade during production hours. Of course you probably will do this during a scheduled maintenance window “just in case”, but theoretically you can do it anytime.

So in this blog post I’ll walk you through the process of a “dark site” one click upgrade. What is a dark site? Well it’s one without internet connectivity, such as a classified environment. Nutanix has a lot of dark site customers, so enabling easy upgrades for this user base was a priority. This process is easy, and if your Nutanix cluster has internet connectivity then it’s even simpler as NOS can automatically download new software updates in the background.

NOS Cluster Upgrade

1. First, login to the Nutanix support portal here. As you can see, the support portal has a similar look at feel to our popular Prism interface. Click on Downloads.

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2. Since NOS 4.1.1 is brand new, it’s on the splash page. You will need to download two files, the NOS 4.1.1 tarball, plus the upgrade JSON metadata file. You should also review the release notes prior to doing the upgrade. Blind upgrades are not recommended.

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3. After both files have downloaded, login to the Prism interface for the Nutanix cluster that you want to upgrade. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner and select Upgrade Software. As a side note, from the Prism interface you can see all kinds of cluster stats such as hypervisor version, number of hosts and blocks, performance data, storage summary, and health status. All in glorious HTML5.

2015-02-09_10-24-00a4. On the upgrade software window you can now upload the tarball and the metadata file. It also shows what version the cluster is currently at, which is 4.0.1 in my case.

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5. During the upload process it provides a progress indicator, and shows which version you are uploading. In my case I’m updating to 4.1.1.

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6. Now that the software and been uploaded, you simply click on Upgrade, acknowledge you want to upgrade, then sit back and wait.

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7. During the upgrade a preupgrade check is done, which finishes in a couple of minutes.

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8. Once the precheck completes it will start doing the rolling software upgrade. You can expand the progress indicator and see the status of each node. You can even click on Nothing to do, and play Tetris while the upgrade is going on. Yes, Nutanix can also keep you entertained.

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9. Here you can see the cluster upgrade is now completed. You are also able to drill into upgrade subtasks, so you know exactly where the upgrade process is at.

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10. After the upgrade completes you will now see the new NOS version. And if you look carefully, you will see even MORE 1-click upgrades added. This covers hypervisor upgrades, firmware upgrades, and NCC (a health utility).

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Summary

As you can see, doing software upgrades for the Nutanix NOS just takes a few clicks. There is ZERO down time, no vMotions needed, no I/O interruption, no host maintenance mode, and no fuss. Starting with NOS 4.1.1 there is now also 1-click upgrades for hypervisors, firmware and NCC. Uncompromisingly simple.

Nutanix Releases NOS 4.1.1

I am very pleased to announce the latest release of the Nutanix Operating System, NOS 4.1.1, is generally available today. Download your copy today! This release offers rich enterprise capabilities to meet the needs of the most demanding applications and critical infrastructure requirements in the datacenter.

Here’s a summary of what’s new in this release.

  • Metro Availability: Nutanix Metro Availability provides continuous data availability for business-critical applications during planned maintenance or unplanned disasters that affect entire sites. Nutanix is the only hyper-converged infrastructure vendor to deliver continuous data protection across multiple datacenters. You can read more about Metro Availability here and here.
  • Cloud Connect: Nutanix Cloud Connect seamlessly integrates public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), with Nutanix-powered private cloud environments. It allows Nutanix customers to combine private and public cloud technology into their long-term infrastructure strategy without requiring third-party software or hard to maintain plug-ins. Read more about Cloud Connect here and here.
  • Encryption Support: Nutanix now provides strong data protection by encrypting user and application data to a level of FIPS 140-2 Level 2 compliance. Data at rest encryption is delivered through self-encrypting drives (SED) that are factory-installed in the Nutanix hyper-converged appliance. Find out more here.
  • Simplified Hypervisor Upgrade: Nutanix radically simplifies the process of upgrading the hypervisor in a Nutanix cluster with this new feature. This release will support upgrade of VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V, with KVM support coming soon. You can read about it here.
  • Security/STIG Enhancements: Nutanix has developed its own comprehensive security technical implementation guides (STIGs) to speed up the accreditation process for DIACAP/DIARMF, which is typically slow and manual. A process that typically takes nine to twelve months can now be accomplished in minutes. Over 500 embedded configuration changes were made to the system for compliance purposes. Major kudos to the security and development teams. Learn more here.
  • Prism Central Scalability: You can now manage up to 100 Nutanix clusters and 10,000 VMs. Prism Central now also supports Hyper-V.
  • Microsoft SCOM Pack: While not part of NOS, coinciding with the 4.1.1 release Nutanix has a Microsoft SCOM pack that monitors both Nutanix hardware and software. Great for Microsoft-centric shops.
  • XenDesktop Plug-In:  Again, while separate from NOS, Nutanix is unique in the industry by releasing a XenDesktop plug-in which enables you to configure per-VM SLAs. This is all configured with a few simple clicks from the XenDesktop Studio.

As part of the ongoing security hardening of NOS, 4.1.1 also addresses several attack vectors for NTP. Nutanix recommends upgrading to 4.1.1 to address these security issues. Certificate management in PRISM has also had a few improvements as well. For a deep dive on additional security information, check out this blog post by Nutanix’s Eric Hammersley. After seeing all the focus around securing our product automating the STIG process, you will agree with me that this is really industry leading.

For a “point” release of NOS, they’ve packed in A LOT of new features plus broader ecosystem support highlighted by the SCOM and XenDesktop add-ons. If you think these features are great, just wait to see what’s in our next point release.

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