Performance Health Technology (PH Tech)

PH Tech Simplifies Its Data Center with the Nutanix Complete Block Solution

Business Needs

Smart storage capabilities to help keep the data center running smoothly. An automated, scalable, and affordable solution that a small team could maintain.


Nutanix SAN-Free architecture built around the Nutanix Complete Block solution. All-in-one compute and storage technology with heat mapping and high IO, density, and performance numbers.


  • A more powerful, vastly simplified data center requiring far less configuration and maintenance.
  • Automated heat mapping that increased storage efficiency and freed up IT staff to focus on other tasks.
  • Nutanix Complete Block solution that held up under intense stress testing without experiencing performance issues.

Business Challenge

With PH Tech’s rapid growth over the past few years, the systems that have supported the company and that have helped make it a success have been placed under increasing amounts of stress. For the IT department, co-managed by System Administrators Kevin Waddell and Greg Straw, this stress was most apparent in the performance of the data center. As more and more clients were added to the system, keeping the data center performing in top condition had become an increasingly time- and labor- intensive task. As Kevin describes it, “We were facing more and more IOPS challenges every day, trying to maintain the throughput from our SAN. Most of the work we did each day was related to maintaining high performance levels across the system.” A key issue the team identified was the need to incorporate smart storage capabilities like heat mapping into the system so that they could maximize performance and storage while keeping costs to a minimum. With an increasing customer base and limited resources to handle the growing workload, though, any smart storage solution would have to be automated, scalable, and cost-effective.

“As soon as we saw the Nutanix solution, we knew it was a game changer. We could replace our entire data center and basically reduce it to a single rack.”

– Kevin Waddell, System Administrator

The Nutanix Solution

At different times within the past year both Kevin and Greg got to learn about the Nutanix Complete Block through various sources and thought it would be an ideal solution to their growing data center storage and processing issues. It was no surprise, then, that when they finally sat down to work out a long-term plan for their data center they quickly agreed that Nutanix was the only way to go. Featuring a compact size and integrated storage and compute functionality, a Nutanix Complete Block was installed in the company’s DEV environment in short order, effectively replacing that part of the multi-layered, highly interconnected data center infrastructure with a single box. As Kevin describes it, “We didn’t have to worry about fifty different interconnects between ESX and iSCSI and trying to get everything exactly right. It was basically just plug in and go.”

Structurally, the 2U Nutanix Complete Block is comprised of four nodes, each containing dual Intel Xeon 5640 processors; 48GB RAM, expandable to 192GB; a 320GB Fusion-io ioDrive PCI-e SSD card; 300GB of SATA SDD; 5x 1TB 7200rpm SATA HDDs; and 10GbE and 1GbE connectivity. In terms of software, each node came pre-installed with VMware ESXi, an industry-standard hypervisor; Nutanix Distributed File System (NDFS), which virtualizes local storage from all nodes into a unified pool; and Nutanix Heat-Optimized Tiering, which automatically tiers data between the Fusion-io ioDrive and the SATA drives.

“What we really found important was the heat mapping capability… being able to have our frequently used, hot data automatically pushed to our fast storage and having everything else pushed down to another tier. And having the system do it by itself was great because I really don’t have the time to sit and try to figure out which particular files are going to be my hot files.”

– Kevin Waddell, System Administrator

Business Impact

Although PH Tech has only recently deployed the Nutanix Block in the DEV environment, the IT team has been impressed with the early results it has seen, particularly with the solution’s ability to handle heavy IOPS volumes without sacrificing the high performance levels PH Tech’s clients require. Greg summed up the Complete Block’s performance during stress testing by saying, “I pounded that thing to the best of my ability and it withstood everything I could throw at it. Even when it was at max CPU at the host level, I could put on another machine and still be able to transfer out sixty megs a second.” By his estimate, the performance levels were three or four times higher than those seen with traditional server architectures.

The decision to install a Nutanix Complete Block has been a wise financial move, too. Eliminating the need to plan, build, and support a separate SAN component within the system architecture brought about immediate CAPEX savings. And with the automated heat mapping feature built into the Complete Block, PH Tech can now take advantage of smart storage technologies for its most frequently accessed data without burdening its System Administrators with the time- and resource-intensive administrative tasks associated with manual heat mapping.

Over time, the smaller data center footprint, the more efficient data storage methodology, and the ability for the data center to operate more efficiently without adding new personnel should lead to significant OPEX savings, too.

In all, the solution that Nutanix came up with for PH Tech is significant not only because it eliminated a growing concern in an efficient, scalable, and cost-effective manner, but also because it reflects PH Tech’s larger commitment to embracing new technologies and re-thinking traditional ways of doing business in order to succeed.