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Nutanix Acropolis AOS Valuable Features

CTO Enterprise Cloud at Amanox Solutions (S&T Group)

Some years ago when we started working with Nutanix the solution was essentially a stable, user friendly hyper converged solution offering a less future rich version of what is now called the distributed storage fabric. This is what competing solutions typically offer today and for many customers it isn't easy to understand the added value (I would argue they should in fact be a requirement) Nutanix offers today in comparison to other approaches.

Over the years Nutanix has added lots of enterprise functionality like deduplication, compression, erasure coding, snapshots, (a)-sync replication and so on. While they are very useful, scale extremely well on Nutanix and offer VM granular configuration (if you don't care about granularity do it cluster wide by default). It is other, maybe less obvious features or I should say design principles which should interest most customers a lot:

Upgradeable with a single click

This was introduced a while ago, I believe around version 4 of the product. At first is was mainly used to upgrade the Nutanix software (Acropolis OS or AOS) but today we use it for pretty much anything from the hypervisor to the system BIOS, the disk firmware and also to upgrade sub components of the Acropolis OS. There is for example a standardized system check (around 150 checks) called NCC (Nutanix Cluster Check) which can be upgrade throughout the cluster with a single click independent of AOS. The One-Click process also allows you to use a granular hypervisor upgrade such as an ESXi offline bundle (could be a ptach release). The Nutanix cluster will then take care of the rolling reboot, vMotion etc. to happen in a fully hyper-converged fashion (e.g. don't reboot multiple nodes at the same time). If you think how this compares to a traditional three tier architecture (including converged generation 1) you do have a much simpler and well tested workflow which is what you use by default. And yes it does automatic prechecks and also ensures what you are updating is on the Nutanix compatibility matrix. It is also worth mentioning that upgrading AOS (the complete Nutanix software layer) doesn't require a host reboot since it isn't part of the hypervisor but installed as a VSA (regular VM). It also doesn't require any VMs to migrate away from the node/host during and after upgrade (I love that fact since bigger cluster tend to have some hickups when using vMotion and other similar techniques especially if you have 100 VMs on a host) not to mentioned the network impact.

Linearly scalable

Nutanix has several unique capabilities to ensure linear scalability. The key ingredients are data locality, a fully distributed meta data layer as well as granular data management. The first is important especially when you grow your cluster. It is true that 10G networks offer very low latency but the overhead will count towards every single read IO so you should consider the sum of them (and there is a lot of read IOs you get out of every single Nutanix node!). If you look at what development is currently ongoing in the field of persistent flash storage you will see that the network overhead will only become more important going forward. The second key point is the fully distributed meta data database. Every node holds a part of the database (the meta data belonging to it's currently local data for the most part and replica information from other nodes). All meta data is stored on at least three nodes for redundancy (each node writes to it's neighbor nodes in a ring structure, there are no meta data master nodes). No matter how many nodes your cluster holds (or will hold) there is always a defined number of nodes (three or five) involved when a meta data update is performed (a lookup/read is typically local). I like to describe this architecture using Big O notation where in this case you can think of it as O(n) and since there are no master node there aren't any bottlenecks at scale. The last key point is the fact that Nutanix acts as an object storage (you work with so called Vdisks) but the objects are split in small pieces (called extends) and distributed throughout the cluster with one copy residing on the local node and each replica residing on other cluster nodes. If your VM writes three blocks to its virtual disk they will all end up on the local SSD and the replicas (for redundancy) will be spread out in the cluster for fast replication (they can go to three different nodes in the cluster avoiding hot spots). If you move your VM to another node, data locality (for read access) will automatically be built again (of course only for the extends your VM currently uses). You might now think that you don't want to migrate that extends from the previous to the now local node but if you think about the fact that the extend will have to be fetched anyhow then why not saving it locally and serve it directly from the local SSD going forward instead of discarding it and reading it over the network every single time. This is possible because the data structure is very granular. If you would have to migrate the whole Vdisk (e.g. VMDK) because this is the way your storage layer saves its underlying data then you simply wouldn't do it (imagine vSphere DRS migrates your VMs around and your cluster would need to constantly migrate the whole VMDK(s)). If you wonder how this all matters when a rebuild (disk failure, node failure) is required then there is good news too! Nutanix immediately starts self healing (rebuild lost replica extends) whenever a disk or node is lost. During a rebuild all nodes are potentially used as source and target to rebuild the data. Since extends are used (not big objects) data is evenly spread out within the cluster. A bigger cluster will increase the probability of a disk failure but the speed of a rebuild is higher since a bigger cluster has more participating nodes. Furthermore a rebuild of cold data (on SATA) will happen directly on all remaining SATA drives (doesn't use your SSD tier) within the cluster since Nutanix can directly address all disks (and disk tiers) within the cluster.


Thanks to data locality a large portion of your IOs (all reads, can be 70% or more) are served from local disks and therefore only impact the local node. While writes will be replicated for data redundancy they will have second priority over local writes of the destination node(s). This gives you a high degree of predictability and you can plan with a certain amount of VMs per node and you can be confident that this will be reproducible when adding new nodes to the cluster. As I mentioned above the architecture doesn't read all data constantly over the network and uses meta data master nodes to track where everything is stored. Looking at other hyper converged architectures you won't get that kind of assurance especially when you scale your infrastructure and the network won't keep up with all read IOs and meta data updates going over the network. With Nutanix a VM can't take over the whole clusters performance. It will have an influence on other VMs on the local node since they share the local hot tier (SSD) but that's much better compared to today's noisy neighbor and IO blender issues with external storage arrays. If you should have too little local hot storage (SSD) your VMs are allowed to consume remote SSD with secondary priority over the other node's local VMs. This means no more data locality but is better than accessing local SATA instead. Once you move away some VMs or the load on the VM gets smaller you automatically get your data locality back. As described further down Nutanix can tell you exactly what virtual disk uses how much local (and possibliy remote) data, you get full transparency there as well.

Extremely fast

I think it is known that hyper converged systems offer very high storage performance. Not much to add here but to say that it is indeed extremely fast compared to traditional storage arrays. And yes a full flash Nutanix cluster is as fast (if not faster) than an external full flash storage array with the added benefit that you read from you local SSD and don't have to traverse the network/SAN to get it (that and of course all other hyper convergence benefits). Performance was the area where Nutanix had the most focus when releasing 4.6 earlier this year. The great flexibility of working with small blocks (extends) rather than the whole object on the storage layer comes at the price of much greater meta data complexity since you need to track all these small entities through out the cluster. To my understanding Nutanix invested a great deal of engineering to make their meta data layer extremely efficient to be able to even beat the performance of an object based implementation. As a partner we regularly conduct IO tests in our lab and at our customers and it was very impressive to see how all existing customers could benefit from 30-50% better performance by simply applying the latest software (using one-click upgrade of course).


Since Nutanix has full visibility into every single virtual disks of every single VM it also has lots of ways to optimize how it deals with our data. This is not only the simple random vs sequential way of processing data but it allows to not have one application take over all system performance and let others starve (to name one example). During a support case we can see all sorts of crazy information (I have a storage background so I can get pretty excited about this) like where exactly your applications consumes it's resources (local, remote disks). What block size is used random/sequential, working set size (hot data) and lots more. All with single virtual disk granularity. At some point they were even thinking at making a tool which would look inside your VM and tell you what files (actually sub file level) are currently hot because the data is there and just needs to be visualized.


If you take a look at the upcoming functionality I wrote about further down you can see just some examples of what is possible due to the very extensible and flexible architecture. Nutanix isn't a typical infrastructure company but more comparable to how Google, Facebook and others engineer and build their data centers. Nutanix is a software company following state of the art design patterns and using modern frameworks. Something I was missing when working with traditional infrastructure. For about a year now they heavily extended what they call the app mobility fabric which comes on top of the distributed storage fabric I mentioned above. This layer allows to move workloads between local hypervisors (currently KVM<->ESXi) and soon between private and public cloud as well. You can for example use KVM based Acropolis Hypervisor clusters for all your remote offices to get rid of high vSphere licensing costs without loosing the main functionality and replicate the VMs to a central vSphere based cluster. The replicated VMs can then be started on vSphere and Nutanix takes care of the conversion. The hypervisor is commodity just like your x86 servers.


When Nutanix released version 1 of it's hyper converged product in 2011 it was a great idea and a good implementation of the same. Most people in IT didn't however expect that it will become the approach with the highest focus throughout the industry. Today the largest players in IT infrastructure push their hyper converged products and solutions more than any other and while there are still other less radical approaches (e.g. external all flash storage), it is foreseeable that they will be less and less important for the big part of IT projects. Nutanix is the leader in the hyper convergence space but having converged storage within your x86 commodity compute layer is by far not the only thing Nutanix has done since then. Their own included hypervisor is a pretty interesting alternative for all those who don't want to spend lots of dollars on vSphere licenses. While it will not yet suite all of your use cases you might actually be surprised at how much of the functionality vSphere offers today (distributed switch, host profiles, guest customization, HA etc.) you care about is already included out of the box with the added value of greatly reduced complexity (yes I am calling vSphere complex compared to Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor).


Since Nutanix is purchased solely as an appliance solution (even though they are only making the software on top). You are always dealing with a pretested, preconfigured solution stack. You do have choice when it comes to memory, CPU, disk and GPU and you get to select from three hardware providers (Nutanix directly, DELL and Lenovo) but they are all predefined options. This allows to guarantee a high level of stability and fast resolution of support cases. As a Nutanix partner this is worth a lot since the experience we get from one customer is valid for any other customer as well. It also allows us to be very efficient and consistent when implementing or expanding the solution since we can put standardized processes in place to reduce possible issues during implementation to a minimum. Once the Nutanix hardware is rack mounted at the customer their software automatically installs the hypervisor of choice (KVM, Hyper-V or ESXi) and configures are necessary variables (IP addresses, DNS, NTP etc.). This is done by the cluster itself, the nodes stage each other over the local network.

And last but not least: With outstanding support

The support we get from Nutanix is easily the best from all vendors we work with. If you open a case you directly speak to an engineer which can help quickly and efficiently. Our customers sometimes open support cases directly (not through us) and so far the feedback was great. One interesting aspect is the VMware support we receive from Nutanix even if the licenses are not sold by them directly. They analyze all ESXi/vCenter logs we send them. If the bug isn't storage related we also open a case with VMware to continue investigating. They do have the possibility to directly engage with VMware by opening a support case directly (Nutanix->VMware) which we saw on multiple occasions. The last case we witnessed was a non-responsive hostd process (vCenter disconnects) where the first log analysis by Nutanix pointed out a possible issue with the Active Directory Integration Service. We then opened a VMware case which was handeled politely but after two weeks when there wasn't much progress other than collecting logs and more logs we remembered what the Nutanix engineer suggested and there was our solution. Disabling Active Directory Integration did the trick. I wouldn't say VMware support isn't good as well but we are always glad that Nutanix takes a look at the logs as well because at the end of the day you are just happy if you can move on and work on other things, not support cases. 

Note: I strongly encourage you to take a look at the Nutanix Bible (nutanixbible.com) where all mentioned aspects and many more are described in great detail.

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Solutions Architect at a computer software company with 51-200 employees

There are lots of different pieces. From a Disaster Recovery perspective, it is very valuable. Some of my customers are getting into Flow. We don't use Flow, however, we're testing it. Flow is their micro-segmentation, which is very useful for protecting your VMs and the traffic that goes to them. From an automation perspective around deploying virtual machines, Calm is pretty good as well.

The initial setup is straightforward.

The solution is very stable. 

The product scales very well.

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IT manager at a transportation company with 51-200 employees

One of the most valuable features of Nutanix is that it's easy to use. I love this solution—it's easy to maintain and update, and I think it's almost perfect. 

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Learn what your peers think about Nutanix Acropolis AOS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
555,358 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Country Manager and Solution Architect at Gilat telecom

One of the most valuable features is the One-Click Upgrade. When I need to update the system, I do it with one click. This product is amazing because everything is easy to manage, from network management to snapshots. 

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Associate Engineer at Secure Meters Limited

I definitely find the reduced power consumption very valuable. Another aspect I really like, when one compares Citrix to VMware, is the interface where you talk directly to your VM from the present software.

On-demand scaling is the most valuable feature, I can keep on scaling on-demand.

With Nutanix, if I do three or four nodes if I look at the traditional environment I have to really figure out the wave concept. Connect wave one, wave two, wave six, wave five. In Nutanix I don't have any of these issues. Lastly, deduplication. Deduplication and erasure coding

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Administrator at Neuberger Gebäudeautomation GmbH

The most valuable feature is the integration of all parts in Prism Element, the browser-based management tool. It gives you detailed information about the environment, helps you drill down on alerts, and keeps the solution up to date with LCM (Life Cycle Manager).

When using Nutanix AHV as a hypervisor, it is the management tool for that too. When you chose another hypervisor it just does basic tasks like VM creation, reconfiguration, and start/stop. It is just enough to keep everything in this "single-pane-of-glass" tool.

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Manager, Operations at a tech services company with 201-500 employees

One of the most valuable features is that it can be applied at any scale. 

The value you get for the price is quite good.

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Consulting Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees

Nutanix has several feature sets that we like. For example, everything's core centralized on the UI. You don't have multiple interfaces that you have to jump between like in some other solutions. It's more integrated for the overall management of the infrastructure. The other part too which is very attractive, is the fact they provide an option if you're not leveraging your OEM hypervisor like VMware or HyperV. That was a significant cost saver for us as well as enabling us to look at alternatives to the VMware tax. 

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Senior Manager at RP Sanjiv Goenka Group

One of the most valuable features is how well this solution performs. It's stable, aside from some patch issues, but it's great from a virtualization and scalability perspective. 

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Systems Administrator at U.S. Naval War College

One-Click Upgrade and Foundation is the most valuable feature. One-Click Upgrade makes upgrades and LCM a breeze. Prior to Nutanix One-Click Upgrade, upgrades and LCM were overly cumbersome and time-consuming. Foundation provides an easy, yet very structured, approach to cluster modification (adding or removing nodes). Prior to something like Foundation, the process to scale out additional infrastructure was also cumbersome and tedious. Nutanix has completely simplified both of these processes and has made it very easy to focus more time on other things.

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IS Assistant Manager at a legal firm with 501-1,000 employees

It is all-in-one. The compute processing, storage, and network altogether make it convenient. We don't have to have different modules for expansion.

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Chief IT Engineer at a cloud provider with 10,001+ employees

We really love the Lifecycle manager and one-click upgrades. All you need to do is run the upgrade procedure and watch it go.

You don't need to update firmware, software, hypervisors, and so on by yourself. LCM can do it for you. It really can save a lot of time. LCM will install only compatible firmware and software, so you can't install (for example) unsupported firmware and break down your system.

LCM is a really cool feature and one of the best in the market. I have never seen anything like this before. 

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CTO Enterprise Cloud at Amanox Solutions (S&T Group)
  • Very easy management (e.g. daily tasks and also major upgrades)
  • Simple and fast to implement as a partner
  • Very mature and stable with outstanding Nutanix support if needed (we are a L1 and L2 support partner as well)
  • Potential to replace 80-90% of all customer use cases we see in Switzerland
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Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 201-500 employees

- Support Calls are being answered directly by L3 Support team who are capable to solve not only Acropolis issue but hypervisor as well. 

- One-Click Updates.

- One Management Console for Cluster Management ( Compute, Storage ) and VMs operations as well.

- Storage Only Nodes.

- Having multiple HW Vendors & Hypervisors in the same Data centre and manage all with one management tool.

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FD at Alpha 55

The features that I have found most valuable are the user-friendliness of that hypervisor. Also, people who are not agnostic about the hardware can go with Nutanix. It has a user-friendly dashboard and interface.

Pros, it's an OEM kind of a hypervisor. It can fit to any size. Pros are that any enterprise company can fit in with it, and that budgets are also not heavy on their pockets. So, these are the pros of Nutanix.

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Chief Information Officer and Program Lead at Gatron Industries Ltd

There are a lot of features in Nutanix that are different from other hyper-converged solutions, such as site-to-site replication. VM-based site-to-site replication is bundled with the software licensing. For the DR, it has the availability groups, which is one of the key features that Nutanix provides.

Its performance management is pretty good, especially the software-defined storage that Acropolis provides is pretty good.

As far as the availability is concerned, it has RAID nodes, so the availability is pretty good. In case of failure, the system automatically shifts machines from one node to another. Their failure debugger is very good.

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System Engineer at Cloud Vision

The most valuable aspect of the solution is the fact that it doesn't need any downtime even when you are updating the product. 

The solution offers HA, high availability.

The solution is easy to set up.

We find the product to be very stable. 

The scalability is quite good.

Nutanix offers good pricing.

Technical support is helpful. 

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National Sales Manager at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

Its most valuable feature is simplicity. It is so easy to use. Upgrades are easy. It is easy in terms of disaster recovery, failover, database provisioning, and reporting. Everything about it is just simple.

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Sr. Systems Administrator at Enercare

There are lots of great built-in features such as the one-click upgrade, data protection, data locality, very fast and non-disruptive snapshots, single pane of glass, etc.

We are applying patches and upgrades every quarter using the one-click upgrade feature and we have never run into an issue. The updates go smoothly with no outages at all, and we do everything including firmware updates, AOS updates, foundation updates, hypervisor updates, all at once and it goes perfectly fine.

The data protection is also a great feature that is very easy to set up and includes lots of options for snapshot retention. The consistent snapshots are great for Windows application and database servers.

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IT Administrator and Sr. VMware Engineer at a retailer with 501-1,000 employees

One of the most valuable features that can be found, is the inclusion of a hypervisor for free. This allowed us to direct the investments and the budget towards other types of aspects, generating a lot of added value.

With the cost we saved on hypervisor licenses, we were able to invest in more nodes and blocks for our platform. In this way, our environment is now prepared to grow much more without having to re-invest in hardware. On the other hand, automation managed to redirect the time of IT staff to other projects, thus increasing productivity.

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Director of Information Technology at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

One of the nicest features was the migration tool. Being able to take any application and migrate it over even while it was in use, and then cut it over without any downtime was very helpful.

Everything ran pretty smoothly, from what I recall.

The initial setup was quite straightforward. 

The solution was very stable. 

I found the pricing to be very reasonable.

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Especialista en ventas de productos at Adistec

My experience with the Nutanix Acropolis is good from both a reseller and end-user experience.

The automation is excellent.

The product offers a quality hypervisor.

The solution offers very good customization.

The administration with the prem solution is very good.

Overall, it's quite a comprehensive solution.

The user experience is very good.

The product has a very nice user interface.

It's easy to use and has a very smooth onboarding process.

We find the performance to be excellent on this solution.

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Head - UICT and Associate Professor at MIT Pune

We like that the size of the box is 1U or 2U only, and all the servers are fit into that box. The ease of operation is there. All the servers and the SAN storage are inside the box. So there are no wires, cables to manage. Secondly, since it is a hyper-converged infrastructure, we can scale up very easily. Suppose, for example, we were using 24 TB SAN last year, and now we are increasing up to 96 TB SAN. That is very easy to do with Nutanix. Just install the hard disk, enterprise-grade SAS or SSD, and expand that particular SAN. So within a short span of time, we can increase the capacity of the RAM or the hard disk. With how compact the equipment is it saves us a lot of space in the racks. 

In previous years we had six to seven server rooms, those are consolidated to only one server room now. We have only one server room and the space of that server room is hardly is 200 square feet. Cooling is easy, the amount of cooling needed is also reduced, so the administration becomes very easy. Reports are generated very easily. Additionally, we can configure the machines, we can create the VDI, for example, at a fast pace. Within four, five minutes, we are able to create the machine.

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Owner at a computer software company with self employed

Its low maintenance is a key feature. It is easy to install, upgrade, and scale by adding more blocks. 

Compute analysis is really easy. It takes hours instead of days.

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IT Director at Elite Semiconductor Memory

The solution offers impressive performance.

We don't have to pay for extras.

The interface of the solution is good. I like the UI.

The stability of the solution is quite decent.

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Solutions Engineer at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees

In general, being able to patch and not having to pay for SanDisk is the best thing about hyper-converged.

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Executive Vice President with 201-500 employees

Nutanix has given me an opportunity to create multiple VMs and it's really very resilient for failures. Even if there is a single node failure, the VM gets migrated automatically to the healthy node. I can also take any number of snapshots and restore them at any point in time. The solution offers cloning and it's very simple to create a clone of any server. These are the great features of Nutanix. In addition, it's user-friendly, and in contrast with some solutions, you don't need to know about the technology. Anyone knowing the basics of VMware or hypervisor can start creating VMware, adding the server, and deploying it on the go within a few hours.

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Virtualization, Data Center, Networks, Linux System Administration at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
  • DSF with reduction techniques - more storage resources.
  • Resiliency - self-healing, handling a failure.
  • One manage interface - Prism. It's easy to use and monitor your workloads.


  • Anomaly Detection
  • In the world of IT operations, there is a lot of noise. Traditionally, systems would generate a great deal of alerts, events, and notifications, often leading to the operator either a) not seeing critical alerts since they are lost in the noise or b) disregarding the alerts/events.

Nutanix Software Upgrade:

  • Performing a Nutanix software upgrade is a very simple and non-disruptive process.
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Managing Director at a tech services company with 11-50 employees

The solution is very stable.

The ease of deployment is very good.

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IT Project Manager at United Conveyor Corporation

A great feature involves real-time hardware changes. There is no need to shut down any VM during the hardware changes.

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Senior Solutions Architect at a tech company with 51-200 employees

Our clients like several features including the micro-segmentation flow, the one-page management through Prism, and the LCM (Life Cycle Management) that Prism offers.

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Chief Executive Officer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees

The solution is easy to use.

The product is quite scalable.

I have found the solution to be stable. 

The product is very easy to install.

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Manager at a tech vendor with 10,001+ employees

Many clients use the solution in order to move the data center in-house or to a data center in the entity itself. It helps them reduce their footprint.

The solution is stable.

It's scalable. It's software-defined storage.

The initial setup is very easy and the implementation happens quickly.

Technical support is okay.

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Presales Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

Nutanix has many features.

It supports multi-cloud integration that includes AWS, Google, and Azure.

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Consulting Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees

The tool for operations is pretty easy to use. It has a single pane of glass and you don't have to jump around various toolsets.

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Sr. Associate Vice President at Hitachi Systems, Ltd.

The solution brings a lot of convenience and ease of use for the customer. 

The product is easy to manage.

It has easy scalability, which is one of its great advantages. A customer will often look for this feature. 

The solution is highly compatible with other platforms.

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Deputy Manager at CESC Ventures

The solution has single-window management, the ability to create VMs and monitor their usage on the fly, and the ability to add more resources if required. There are a lot of tools the solution comes with and the performance is good.

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The most valuable feature is the one-click to update the firmware and software. This is a very good feature for me.

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Network Specialist, Information Technology at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees

The most valuable features are simple management and one-click upgrades. The ability to upgrade during the day, although not recommended, works and is fantastic.

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Senior presales consultant at Waseela

What I like the most are the high-availability and scalability.

I am comfortable with all of the features.

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Nutanix ,Vmware & AWS Admin at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees

The most valuable features of this solution are the storage feature on the File Server. 

The hyperconvergence service, as well as the DR solution, are game-changers for Nutanix.

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Senior Director at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees

One of the main features of the solution is that it works on many hypervisors. It is a big advantage. Additionally, the solution is compatible with VMware and Hyper-V, and the management interface, which is called Prism, is very intuitive and user-friendly.

The solution upgrades very easily with the one-click upgrade feature. There are no hassles, it can upgrade the firmware and all the software. The management is very easy.

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Global Manager at a mining and metals company with 1,001-5,000 employees

Nutanix Acropolis AOS is flexible and has helped people to work from home during the pandemic.

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Senior Program Officer at a non-profit with 5,001-10,000 employees

Nutanix Acropolis AOS is easy to use, integrates with other hardware configurations, and is simple to manage.

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Technical Manager at ISIT AE FZ LLC

The most valuable feature I have found to be the Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).

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Directeur Technique at INFONECS

Karbon is a must-have as it drastically simplifies the deployment of Kubernetes.

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Learn what your peers think about Nutanix Acropolis AOS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
555,358 professionals have used our research since 2012.