Last week Nutanix officially announced the Community Edition of their platform. They let everyone know that a private Alpha and Beta test period had already been completed and was starting a public Beta period. The public Beta will allow users to sing up and Nutanix will open up the Beta to a new set of testers each week. This will allow them to onboard new testers each week without over burdening the process and causing confusion.
The Community Edition (CE) is a software-only version of the Nutanix hyperconverged platform. It currently only runs on KVM for the hypervisor and must be installed on bare metal hardware. This left some confused and wondering what the cost of testing this community version would be. I was happy to see that there are options for testing a single node CE install along with a 3 or 4 node install. The fact that a single node install is allowed offers a pretty low cost of entry. This is the route that I choose for my testing since many of my lab servers are AMD based. I did have an Intel-based server and a few whiteboxes that were potential candidates for the testing.
Following some of the conversations online about CE, it seemed like some felt that the cost of entry for playing with CE was too high. While I do agree that a nested version that could be deployed as a virtual appliance is on my wishlist, the bare metal option is nice also. I’m planning on using CE as a long term storage option in my lab over the Nexenta box that I was previously running.
Now on to the costs. I used an HP ML150 G6 server that I purchase about two years ago for around $400. It has just a single Intel E55xx series CPU in it and 24GB of memory. The built in NICs are supported by CE as well as the storage controller. I had a consumer grade Samsung 830 SSD drive and a pair of 2TB HDD’s that I was using in my old build. So the total build for me was probably between $700 to $1000 at most. I wanted to test on my whitebox build that is around $500 but a failed CPU is causing a delay.
I did a little Ebay searching today and saw that Dell R610 and R710 servers are pretty cheap on average, around $350 – $500 with the right CPU’s and amount of memory. All that you would need to do is add the right drives if they don’t have them already. So I think that this is a pretty reasonable cost for an advanced product. I know many people’s home servers may already easily meet these requirements.
Long term I’m going to be thinking about how I can design CE to be my main storage in the home lab. It will likely be a non-standard approach of running CE on KVM and presenting it externally to my vSphere clusters. But if it gets the job done I’m fine with the behavior. I may use a pair of single node installs and replicate between them for my data protection strategy saving me from burning a 3rd server. This should save me from spending several thousands of dollars on a higher-end Synology NAS device and all the drives. Also gives me some cool features that a home NAS won’t provide.
If you are running CE and have a reasonably priced build drop it in the comments and share with others.