My .NEXT Review

This year, I drove out to Anaheim for .NEXT to see what was coming our way. Every .NEXT has gotten progressively bigger as far as announcements go. Last year at NOLA, we started to see a little bit from Xi: Beam and Leap. We also met Flow, Era, and Calm… all made major impacts to the way I looked at delivering services at work.

I had high expectations for the venue, after last years trip to New Orleans. The food and night scene is better than Vegas, at least for my tastes. The food there is just so good. You can stay out all night if you want. It’s a great city to host a big convention.

Anaheim turned out better than expected. We stayed at an Airbnb that was 20 minutes walking distance from the convention center. It housed 4 of us perfectly. The only downside? Noise curfew at 930pm. Cool, whatever. But the neighbors, apparently, hate that the place gets rented out… so they call and complain even if you speak loudly with the windows open. We we’re playing some video games inside rather enthusiastically, and were given a warning. LOL.

Now that the fat kid in me is done talking, let’s talk tech. This year, we started off with the big keynote. LOTS of information to take in. Nutanix Frame looked awesome. Nutanix Mine got my attention. Xi Beam Compliance got my attention. Nutanix running natively on AWS bare metal is huge news. Mark Hamill got EVERYONE’s attention. Best guest speaker at a .NEXT conference, hands down. My co-worker some how missed the memo that he was going to be there, and ended up being super surprised. We both listened and watched intently.

Let’s talk about the announcements I cared about. Sorry, but I don’t like to waste time on anything that doesn’t pertain to myself. My writing would reflect that, and it’s just bad for both of us.

Nutanix Frame

VDI has always been notoriously hard to get up and running. Citrix always had complicated infrastructure and management tools. Managing gold master was always challenging. Frame appears to solve a lot of these problems. The demo was impressive, but I need to know more. I’ve already scheduled a sit down with my account team and a Frame expert.

My biggest use case for this, currently, is Point-of-Sale. It needs to have good USB redirection. It needs good multi-monitor support. I’m skeptical at the moment, because every new Nutanix service takes a while to get running. I suspect there will be a lot of “coming soon” when I start diving in. I’ll know more later this week after I meet with the Frame team. — I scheduled that meeting almost immediately after the keynote.

Nutanix Mine

Nutanix Mine was my second favorite announcement, and just as relevant. I’m currently going through a backup POC with 4 different vendors: Rubrik, Cohesity, Veeam and Hycu. For Veeam and Hycu, I’m using Nutanix Files on a DR cluster as secondary storage. Cohesity has been winning the race, but now I need to know more about Veeam and Hycu and what that looks like with Nutanix UX running the show. Veeam has been super clunky with the AHV integration, as-is. Restore some stuff from the web, other stuff from the management console… it’s very cumbersome.

I have high hopes for Nutanix Mine, and will definitely be considering it as another layer to the backup discussion. I wish there were more technical sessions in regard to mine. It needs to have full index searching (Veeam and Hycu are missing this). It needs a roadmap to integrating cloud services like Office 365 backups (Veeam does happen to be really good at this, so there’s hope). It needs to integrate with Self Service Restore… the presentation left me with so many questions.

Nutanix on AWS

This is very intriguing. Cloud initiative? This is easy mode. I’m just sitting back imagining how fast I could move someone to AWS or GCP. Migrate a protection domain and flip the switch… if you had a seasonal business, you could move all of your resources to the cloud and move them back in a few months when you’re done, again, in minutes.

Break-out Sessions

Here’s my first real complaint about .NEXT. Constructive criticism, if you will.

Break-out sessions are a waste of anyone’s time for those who are technically savvy. Deep dives didn’t dive deep enough. The 101 sessions are a snooze-fest. THIS IS OKAY. I expect this. I just wish that there was a different set of sessions and schedules available to NTC’s, TAB members, and big/active companies. Even my co-workers, who aren’t as familiar with Nutanix, didn’t find any value in these. We only went to a couple on the first day before we reached a consensus that they were indeed a waste. The short of it? If there is a guy taking pictures of slides with his phone, we’re in the wrong place.

I want a round-table discussion for every product, whether I have the product, or not. This is where I enjoyed my time the most and where I learned the most. I felt like my voice was heard. Peers in the room would often agree on things, and I left feeling like progress was sure to be made.

Last year, I was able to discuss Prism Central directly with the engineers and product development team. This year, I was able to discuss the AHV imaging road map and Nutanix Flow. These were both round table discussions with peers and engineers. There were also the most valuable discussions. Let the executives and c-level’s take pictures of slides with their phone, that’s what those classes are there for. Not for me. Next year, I’m definitely going to try and get more round table discussions lined up across the various product lines. We use a large portion of the Nutanix suite, and I have feedback for all of it.

When it’s all said and done, Nutanix .NEXT is a great time. They offer all the tools you need to get certified, which is great. The testing center looked packed every time I walked by. Nutanix has also been pretty good about selecting locations. NOLA and Anaheim had a ton of spots to choose from, all extremely highly rated.

If you’re feeling bored, the conference gets so much better if you get involved in the product and can get yourself invited to the smaller sessions. I’ve had a few different account reps, and all of them have been stellar at getting me in front of product teams if I was serious about the product. I’m going to try and get twice as many next year with all the new products.

Until then… I’m looking forward to Chicago!