Two weeks back I was attending Nutanix .NEXT in New Orleans. This was my first time at this event, and I was looking forward to learning more about what was Next from Nutanix. One of the things that caught my eye was their Beam announcement. Beam is the Nutanix name for BotMetric which was the reason for the Minjar acquisition back in March 2018. According to Nutanix, “Beam is a multi-cloud cost optimization service delivered by Nutanix to help organizations gain visibility into cloud spend across multiple cloud environments. Beam enables organizations to multi-cloud with freedom”
The premise on which Beam is built is that public cloud is good, but if not done correctly can be very expensive. And I completely agree with that point of view. You need a great team of Admins who are well versed with Cloud pricing if you want to take full advantage of the public cloud without breaking the bank. And as many of you will agree, this is rarely a case. Most of the enterprises spend way too much money consuming public cloud resources. And same goes for security best practices. As an admin, how many times have you seen a publicly accessible S3 bucket or a Security Group allowing traffic on all the restricted ports, or my favorite, keys uploaded on Github? These are the scenarios where Nutanix Beam can really save the day for organizations.
Beam works with AWS and Azure today and plans to support the Nutanix Cloud in the second half of the year, and it can help users with the following three things:
- Cost Optimization and Visibility: Everyone is always looking to cut down on their public cloud spend, and people go different routes trying to achieve that. One of the most common ways that you can reduce your bill is to buy Reserved Instances, but Beam(who monitors over a Billion dollars of cloud spend) has noticed that this is highly ineffective. Although your bill comes down when compared to On-Demand pricing, you are still only using 30-40% of the resources that you are paying for, which is obviously non-optimal. Beam is able to link to all your AWS and Azure Accounts. It inventories all the resources across applications and across business units, that you have running across all the regions(which is not the easiest of tasks to be done manually), and then analyses your resource utilization and spend and gives you ways on how you can reduce your monthly bill. It looks at things like snapshots that are older than 30 days, unused volumes, etc. And then following the One-Click mantra that Nutanix has, it enables you to get rid of those resources from the Beam portal itself.
This one-click “Eliminate” feature had me worried till I spoke to an expert at the booth and got a demo. First of all, you have role-based access control and Multi-Factor Authentication built inside Beam, so only authorized users can log in and then manage the accounts they are responsible for. And Second, which is the best part, they integrate with AWS IAM for example and enable you to grant granular access to resources. They have an IAM policy generator built into the interface, so depending upon what account and what resources you want Beam to manage, and also what levels of access (Read-Only, Read-Write, Root), it generates a JSON version of the IAM policy that you can edit if you want and then paste in the AWS IAM console to create a new role that will allow Beam to talk to very specific services in your AWS account. So, if used correctly, this can be a great feature.
In addition to cost optimization, Beam also helps you secure your cloud environments. Minjar (now Nutanix) had worked with the Cloud providers on security best practices that should be implemented for all user accounts and they have continued to maintain those policies and make sure that they are up-to-date. Similar to how they scan your environment for Cost optimization, they also scan your environment for security flaws and again with the one-click feature, you can fix those issues across clouds from a single interface.
- Centralized Financial Governance: Now, that we brought the wasteful spending down for our cloud accounts, next thing Beam helps us to do is create Financial Budgets for multiple cost centers. In addition to creating Budgets for different users/cost centers, it also has the ability to generate policy-based alerts. If you log into the portal, you can track the spend vs the budget on a granular level. It helps you identify the most costly cost centers and have a conversation with them and see how you can keep their spend within budget. Having this ability across clouds is awesome.
- Intelligent Consumption Planning: Since Beam is able to look at your public cloud accounts, it can help you optimize your resource consumption. It can give you smart suggestions based on Machine Intelligence and Recommendation Algorithms. It helps you find unused cloud resources and also help you right-size your instances based on historical usage data. You can also view several What-If scenarios, like if I want to buy a Reserved Instance for a T2.small instance that I have running in my environment, how much can I save if I go for a 1-yr vs a 3-yr Reserved Instance contract. All these small savings can add up when you consider it over a longer time duration.
Right now, if you want to get started with Beam, Nutanix is offering a 14-day Trial to all of its features. You can sign up for an account at beam.nutanix.com. In terms of roadmap, they are looking to integrate with Nutanix Cloud, Integrations with Nutanix CALM, etc in the second half of 2018 and then Integrating with Google Cloud Platform in 2019.