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Nutanix Patent Aims To Simplify Software Defined Storage

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Nutanix has been granted a patent for managing input/output and storage for a virtualization environment. The announcement made yesterday by the enterprise storage vendor, touted its claim to making storage area network (SAN) technology obsolete as well as creating the optimal architecture for delivering scale-out storage services for virtual machines on any hypervisor.

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Nutanix also issued a challenge to the storage industry to design next-generation storage with comparable performance and scalability.

The abstract from the patent states:

"Disclosed is an improved approach to implement I/O and storage device management in a virtualization environment. According to some approaches, a Service VM is employed to control and manage any type of storage device, including directly attached storage in addition to networked and cloud storage. The Service VM implements the Storage Controller logic in the user space, and can be migrated as needed from one node to another. IP-based requests are used to send I/O request to the Service VMs. The Service VM can directly implement storage and I/O optimizations within the direct data access path, without the need for add-on products."

Nutanix graphic shows placement of Service VMs described in the newly granted patent.Nutanix graphic shows placement of Service VMs described in the newly granted patent.

The 33 page patent document in essence shows how a Service VM (which Nutanix also calls a Controller VM) would run on each node and collectively control the pool of storage resources, regardless of type, which includes server attached flash storage. This distributed system software layer converges compute and storage into a single tier that would allow the Service VM to provide other features, optimizations, and Quality of Service (QoS) functionality such as encryption, deduplication and compression.

According to Nutanix, the functionality is equivalent to a SAN or NAS array, but would be more scalable and have better performance without requiring any additional add-ons. "The architecture natively delivers enterprise-class storage capabilities, such as snapshots, clones, compression and deduplication, to run any production workload" states the company's press release.

With a 100 percent software-driven architecture that is independent from the virtualization technology, the architecture could also provide a unified data fabric for building hybrid clouds and could allow enterprise IT managers to leverage public cloud resources while maintaining control and security of the their private cloud infrastructure.

"Nutanix has pioneered a radically simpler and more scalable storage architecture for all virtualized environments. This patent recognizes their technical vision and leadership while raising the stakes on other companies in the web-scale market," stated Dr. Willy Zwaenepoel, professor and former dean at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).


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