Hyperconverged infrastructure vendor, Nutanix, has confirmed the worst secret in enterprise IT with the launch of its own native Acropolis hypervisor to compete with Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's vSphere.
The company, which holds a 52 per cent share of the hyperconverged market, according to IDC, has used its .NEXT conference as a platform to set out its vision to converge, not only compute and storage, but also a complete virtualisation layer.
This takes a company, that previously only played below the hypervisor, into the virtualisation space and into direct competition with VMware and Microsoft.
It has done this with the introduction of its native Acropolis KVM hypervisor, provided at no cost, with enterprise grade management tools to support it.
The new tools easily shift application workloads between hypervisors with a new app mobility fabric.
The company has also unveiled Prism - a new infrastructure management solution which includes one-click software upgrades for efficient maintenance, one-click insight for detailed capacity trend analysis and planning and one-click trouble shooting for rapid issues identification and resolution.
Nutanix senior director, product and technical marketing, Greg Smith, told ARN said the "massive" announcement articulated a very bold vision for the company over the next couple of years.
"We have been very successful in hyperconverged with our hundreds of customers powering all of their workloads because we brought this new found simplicity to the datacentre," he said.
"We have done that by making storage invisible. We have eliminated a lot of the complexity, a lot of the cost and the time consuming administration tasks that often come with storage management and we have made it an invisible resource for IT administrators.
He said the company was now doing the same thing for the rest of the stack.
"We have made storage invisible, we are now going to make the rest of the stack invisible and the overarching goal in making the infrastructure invisible is to elevate IT teams so they can focus on the application and the services that power their business."
Smith said that hypervisors today "are" and "should be" treated as commodities and they had essentially become the new sheet metal for the enterprise.
"It's been rumoured that Nutanix is introducing its own hypervisors and that is indeed true," he said.
"But it misses the mark from an industry impact."
Nutanix Acropolis is a platform that converges not only compute and storage, but now also integrates a complete virtualisation layer, and included in there is an Acropolis hypervisor.
"What's more important is not only that we are including a KVM hypervisor integrated into our platform at no cost, but we are also providing enterprise grade management tools to support that hypervisor," Smith said.
"That virtualisation management comes in Nutanix Prism. There's Nutanix Acropolis, which is the integration for those core resources and Prism that provides the management and now with this release, not just storage, but the entire virtualisation layer.
Acropolis has three major aspects: a distributed storage fabric, an app mobility fabric and of course the hypervisor.
The distributed storage fabric builds on the file system and enables common web-scale services across multiple storage protocols.
Acropolis can now mount volumes as in-guest iSCSI storage for applications with specific storage protocol requirements such as Microsoft Exchange, unifying all workloads on a single infrastructure.
The app mobility fabric is a newly designed open environment capable of delivering VM placement, VM migration and VM conversion, as well as cross-hypervisor high availability and integrated disaster recovery.
It supports most virtualised apps and will provide a more seamless path to containers and hybrid Cloud computing.
Smith said the app mobility fabric was a rapid enhancement to the company's architecture that he knew people would be excited about.
"The app mobility fabric provides and open environment that will allow customers to run their workloads on any hypervisor freely in that they can move workloads from hypervisor to another within the same Nutanix systems," he said.
"There is no change to the storage, there is no change to the infrastructure management.
"But what it does is it unlocks the applications from the virtualisation layer, so they can move freely between vSphere and our own native Acropolis hypervisor.
"We think that is truly revolutionary in allowing people to pick the right technology for their environment.
"There is no hyperconverged other that gives people that freedom to move their workloads for different environments in the same system."
Smith said containerisation software provider, Docker, was also a partner and supporter of the new technology.
"This is why we think Nutanix Acropolis is such a huge step forward because for the first time they will have an open environment where they can choose the technologies that they want to run their applications on, and that can be vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, our own built-in hypervisor, which we are providing at no cost, Docker containers, and they can run those on Nutanix or they can run them in the public Cloud.
"We can not only convert and move those, but continue to maintain visibility and control them regardless of where they run."
The Acropolis hypervisor also supports traditional hypervisors, but also includes a native hypervisor based on the Linux KVM hypervisor.
It has enhanced security, self-healing capabilities, based on SaltStack and enterprise-grade VM management.
It also delivers a better user experience at a lower TCO and will be the first hypervisor to plub into the App Mobility Fabric, according to a company statement.
Smith said the performance across the three hypervisor environments was at parity when running on Nutanix.
"We don't see meaningful performance differences with our customers," he said. "A lot of that is because of the Nutanix architecture.
"There are things we do that inherently make the environment high performance. The principal thing we do is we keep data local to the workload."
While many would see this move as a shot across the bow of Microsoft and VMware, Smith disagreed.
"I don't think we are necessarily taking them on, in fact Microsoft is a very close and strong partner for Nutanix, and they are also a partner, and provide public support for our Acropolis and Prism product families," he said.
"For us, it's truly about providing maximum choice to customers. As you know, Nutanix has always been hypervisor agnostic, we have customers already running on KVM.
"And what they have told us is that the only thing holding them back from embracing KVM even stronger is the lack of enterprise grade management tools.
"So that's where we have focused our effort.
"So not only do we integrate the Acropolis hypervisor into the fabric, but Nutanix Prism provides the right tools and the control frame for the all the operations of the hypervisor in a consumer friendly fashion."
Nutanix vice president sales, APJ, Matt Young, said the new products offered new pathways for channel players who had been previously pigeonholed in storage.
"From a channel perspective you can see how much it can open up opportunites," he said.
"Because you could have a storage channel that was pigeonholed in storage and now has the ability, with the Acropolis suite, to get into the virtualisation piece or vice versa, with virtualisation partners into storage ,and then giving them this runway into the Cloud. It just broadens the opportunity for them."
Young said the company was not looking to replace VMware.
"But I do think it gives the channel partners out there more choices.
"There is not doubt. The hypervisor is old - it's older technology and people are looking for things that can migrate them to the next generation, the Dockers and to the Cloud."