Nutanix Vocabulary

This will be the first post of a series —as I am going to post my study notes for NPP as a general reference and a study tool for others. We’ll start with the basics, Nutanix vocabulary.

The Nutanix Xtereme Computing Platform (XCP) is a converged, scale-out compute and storage system that is purpose built to host and store virtual machines.

XCP is comprised of two components:

Acropolis – data plane made up of App Mobility Fabric (AMF), Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF) and hypervisor integration.

  • App Mobility Fabric (AMF) – logical construct built into Nutting solutions that allows application and data to freely move between environments. The AMF abstracts the workloads (Containers, VMs, etc.) from the hypervisor, which is what provides this ability to easily move applications and datas around.
  • Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF)  – distributed system that pool storage resources and provides storage platform capabilities such as snapshots, disaster recovery, compression, erasure coding, and more. Nodes work together across a 10 GbE network to form a Nutanix cluster and the DSF.
  • Hypervisor –  ESXi, Hyper-V, and Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV)

PRISM – provides management UI for administrators to configure and monitor the cluster. This web interface also provides access to REST APIs and the nCLI.

A few more terms to be familiar with (since I used them in the section above!):

Node – the foundational unit for a Nutanix cluster. Each node runs a standard hypervisor (ESXi, Hyper-V, and AHV) contains processors, memory, network interfaces, and local storage (SSDs and HDDs).

Block – a Nutanix rackable unit containing up to four nodes

Nutanix Node.png

Cluster – set of Nutanix blocks and nodes that forms the Acropolis Distributed Storage Fabric (DSF). A cluster must contain a minimum of three nodes to operate.

The three objects that allow the Nutanix platform to manage storage are:

Storage Pool – is a group of physical storage devices, including SSD and HDD devices, for the cluster. The storage pool can span multiple Nutanix nodes and is expanded as the cluster scales.

  • It’s recommended that a single storage pool be created to manage all physical disks within the cluster.

Container – is a logical segmentation of the storage pool and contains a group of VMs or files (vDisks). Containers are usually mapped to hosts as shared storage in the form of an NFS datastore or an SMB share.

vDisk – is a subset of available storage within a container that provides storage to virtual machines. If the container is mounted as an NFS volume, then the creation and management of vDisks within that container is handled automatically by the cluster. Any file over 512 KB is a vDisk.

nutanix bible.png

(Image above taken from

Some more storage terms:

Datastore – logical container for files necessary for VM operations.

Storage Tiers – utilize MapReduce tiering technology to ensure that data is intelligently placed in the optimal storage tier —flash or HDD —to yield the fastest possible performance.

The general process for provisioning storage is as follows:

  1. Create a storage pool that contains all physical disks in the cluster.
  2. Create a container that uses all of the available storage capacity in the storage pool.
  3. Mount the container as a datastore.


More to come over the next few weeks!

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