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  • Writer's pictureMarvin the Paranoid Biological Android

Nutanix Cloud Manager (NCM)

The title of this blog might give folks the impression that NCM is in fact a single entity management tool that will manage your HCHCI environment either on premise or in the cloud from a single GUI.

Nutanix kinda sorta achieves this via accessing their various management features care of their Prism Central (PC) GUI which is in the business of nesting their many add on features, seemingly under the control of PC.

Some of these "features" you get with the standard starter edition, there are more add on features with NCM Pro and the whole enchilada of everything with NCM Ultimate per the table below.

However, you will notice for example, that when you launch the NCM Cost Governance tool from within the PC GUI (which is just the old but excellent Nutanix BEAM cloud cost management tool), that it actually fires up the BEAM GUI from within your HTML 5 web browser and you are suddenly in stand alone BEAM world.

I am still not sure if this nested within PC parasitic nesting approach is the best way to do things but you get used to doing everything in Prism Central after a few daze.

I myself view PC as an exotic html favorites nest for all things Nutanix related but it is way more complicated than that, unfortunately.

There is a large debate raging along on social media right now as to whether or not the Tax Prism Central demands for it to run properly care of grabbing a lot of cores and memory from the cluster running PC is worth the overhead and the answer to that is it depends on your situation and what you are doing with your HCHCI cluster or clusters.

Therein lies the answer to the question.

If you just want a simple vanilla host system to run your virtual machines on that can deliver basic asynchronous replication between a production cluster and a DR cluster then you need to think hard about Prism Element vs Prism Central, as smaller customers will have less RAM and cores to offer up to the grand and noble concept of PC management vs getting it done with the Grand old zero fancy frills Prism Element way of doing things.

If you have a single production cluster I myself would not venture to a Prism Central instance as the overhead is equal to running a good few virtual servers more cleanly with a lot more stability than running your cluster with Prism Central.

The reason for this is Prism Central fully loaded (NCM Ultimate) is not really ready for Prime time yet and has only recently advanced from Alpha to solid beta stage development, IMHO, of course.

However, this also depends on how and what it is you are doing with PC.

Prism Central nesting all their other add on features (14 of them) like NCM Cost Governance, FLOW and Security Central et al has actually revealed some flaws in the software development aspects of NCM and Nutanix would serve themselves well to go gawk at the Commvault Simpana Software bus architecture and start building their software to plug into a common bus in a similar way.

Nutanix are leaning far too much on Python and JSON in their control plane stack and the problems that have popped up are actually pouring gasoline on the debate against PC in general.

I have found that if you keep PC simple (NCM Standard) it is stupid easy to manage your clusters but you need to have clusters, not a cluster and you do not want to add too many things into the PC stack.

The way they have developed things is what I call the parasitic software bus approach that depends totally on REST API, JSON and Python constructs.

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to recommend with REST API, but when you have Python and JSON being the crippled donkey, you can run into some drastically severe issues.

I am staggered Nutanix persists with JSON, that shit is old and tired and is just not stable.

I am of the opinion that many Nutanix processes when they run into issues, can be attributed to JSON stuff that fell over and stopped working, stranding the Python and other code that depends on JSON dead in it's tracks.

One possible fix is to deploy that setup on containers with appropriate code for that sort of environment but this will take a ton of storage, memory and Core overhead for the purpose of the orchestration and what PC does, if done properly at any rate.

This is why, if you are serious about having a solid Prism Central control plane experience you need to stand up a small Prism Central only management cluster for this purpose and maybe more than one if true PC DR is to be served up on a silver platter.

This management cluster will NOT run anything other than Prism Central and selected PC bolt on features.

One of the big online electronic payment corporations based in San Jose is playing with this now on AMD based Lenovo nodes in their lab and the data from their shenanigans looks pretty conclusive to me in this regard.

Of course suggesting separate management clusters on top of the usual normal clusters might not go over well with the financial folks at any given corporation, but realistically this is definitely the way to do it when you have over 60 clusters to manage.

The push into public cloud by Nutanix is also a rather perplexing thing to grasp from a concept point of view considering many of the Public cloud trail blazers there have recently all gone back to a Hybrid Cloud model, which is where I was suggesting it should have been back in 2012 anyways.

The cost leaps involved here for a solution that has so many single points of failure is still something my sole surviving synapse struggles with, especially when you look at the insanity that comes with public cloud from a $ perspective but then I did start my career in computing with IBM and Hitachi Mainframes...........

Nobody is saving money by moving to the cloud though, that's for darn sure! Public cloud is just an expensive insurance policy for business continuity IMHO.

I do believe that with all the time wasting that people do with internet browsing and email management that Mainframe computing sans interwebs and email bollocks is going to become very popular again.....

As to running everything on a platform that has so many single points of failure and outages, that the cloud service going down and stranding the business running everything on it dead in the water...only the totally insane could conclude this is the way to go for business solid as a rock business continuity.

Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in that thinks this strategy is a good idea, but where I come from down time translates to loss of revenue and companies that are unable to rake in venue usually go broke PDQ.

Just saying...

However, I digress from the point of this blog post which is NCM.

So let's dive in deeper to see what NCM is and what it can do for you, exactly.

First off there is perception of what NCM is, so let's look at the Nutanix feature sheet for the various levels, which are Standard, Pro and Ultimate!

Gratis/Free Paid Paid

NCM Starter just comes with any Nutanix cluster, you do not buy it per se, it is in the box with the basic goodies as part of the package.

NCM Pro and Ultimate have the Cost Governance and Pro throws a lot of self service features on the table and the Ultimate version comes with the whole baked enchilada with Security compliance and advanced Governance.

If you count them all there are 19 various features and capabilities that make up the entire NCM suite and Prism Central is the presentation and launch point to access them all.



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