Atlantis – Not Your Father’s VDI


I’ve written about Atlantis Computing a few times before, and last week Bob Davis and Patrick Brennan were nice enough to run me through what they’ve been up to recently. What I’m about to cover isn’t breaking news, but I thought it worthwhile writing about nonetheless.


Citrix Workspace

Atlantis have been focusing an awful lot on Citrix workspaces lately, which I don’t think is a bad thing.


End-to-End Visibility

The beauty of a heavily integrated solution is that you get great insights all the way through the solution stack. Rather than having to look at multiple element managers to troubleshoot problems, you can get a view of everything from the one place. This is something I’ve had a number of customers asking for.

  • Single pane of glass for the entire virtual workspace infrastructure monitoring;
  • Proactive risk management for workspace;
  • Troubleshoot and identify workspace issues faster; and
  • Save money on operational costs.



People love good reporting. So does Citrix, so you’ve got that in spades here as well.  Including:

  • Detailed historical information;
  • Proactive risk management;
  • Trending infrastructure requirements; and
  • Scaling with confidence.


On-demand Desktop Delivery

The whole solution can be integrated with the Citrix cloud offering, with:

  • Elastic dynamic provisioning on-premises or in the cloud with one management platform;
  • Rapid deployment of applications or desktops with simplified administration; and
  • Easy provision of Desktop as a Service.


HPE Intelligent Edge

It wouldn’t be product coverage without some kind of box shot. Software is nothing without hardware. Or so I like to say.

Here’s a link to the product landing page. It’s basically the HPE Edgeline EL4000 (4-Node) with m510 cartridges

  • M510 Cartridge: Intel Xeon D “Broadwell-DE” 1.7GHz – 16 cores w/ 128GB RAM
  • Equipped with NVMe
  • 4TB Effective Storage Capacity

It runs the full Citrix Stack: XenApp + XenDesktop + XenServer and was announced at Citrix Summit 2017.


Thoughts and Further Reading

I have a lot of clients using all kinds of different combinations to get apps and desktops to their clients. It can be a real pain to manage, and upgrades can be difficult to deliver in a seamless fashion. If you’re into Citrix, and I know a lot of people are, then the Atlantis approach using “full-stack management” certainly has its appeal.  It takes the concept of hyperconverged and adds a really useful layer of integration with application and desktop delivery, doing what HCI has done for infrastructure already and ratcheting it up a notch. Is this mega-hyperconverged? Maybe not, but it seems to be a smarter way to do things, albeit for a specific use case.

If there’s one thing that HCI hasn’t managed to do well, it’s translate the application layer into something as simple as the infrastructure that it’s hosted on. Arguably this is up to the people selling the apps, but it’s nice to see Atlantis having a crack at it.

Atlantis aren’t quite the household name that SimpliVity or Nutanix are (yes I know households don’t really talk about these companies either). But they’ve done some interesting stuff in the HCI space, and the decision to focus heavily on VDI has been a good one. There’s a lot to be said for solutions that are super simple to deploy and easy to maintain, particularly if the hosted software platform is also easy to use. Coupled with some solid cloud integration I think the solution is pretty neat, at least on paper. You can read about the announcement here. Here’s a link to the solution brief. If you’d like to find out more, head to this site and fill out the form. I’m looking forward to hearing about how this plays out in the data centre.


‘Building a Modern Data Center’ Now Available

In my post on the Atlantis CX-4 announcement last week I mentioned that ActualTech Media would be releasing a new book in conjunction with Atlantis Computing – “Building a Modern Data Center: Principles and Strategies of Design”. The book is now available for download here and I highly recommend you check it out. If you have anything to do with data centres then this is an invaluable resource that covers a bunch of different aspects, not just the marketecture of hyperconvergence.  I’ve said on the record that it’s a ripping yarn, and there are a number of people who agree. A Kindle version is available here for US $2.99, with print copies (US $9.99) available from Amazon next month.  ActualTech Media are also running a webinar on February 2 that I’d recommend checking out if you have the time.

Atlantis Computing Announces HyperScale CX-4 and Dell Partnership

It’s been a little while since I talked about Atlantis Computing and things have developed a bit since then. They’ve added a bunch of new features to USX, including, amongst other things:

I was recently lucky enough to have the opportunity to be briefed on their latest developments by Priyadarshi Prasad, Senior Director of Product Management at Atlantis Computing.


HyperScale CX-4

Atlantis Computing recently announced a new addition to their HyperScale range of products – the CX-4. If you’re familiar with the existing HyperScale line-up, you’ll realise that this is aimed at the smaller end of the market. Atlantis have stated that “[t]he CX-4 appliance is a two-node hyperconverged integrated system with compute, all-flash storage, networking and virtualisation designed for remote offices, branch offices (ROBO) and “micro” data centres”.

Atlantis HyperScale Box Shot

Atlantis Computing have previously leveraged Cisco, HP, Lenovo and SuperMicro for their hardware offerings and this has continued with the CX-4. The SuperMicro specs are as follows:



Dell FX2

Atlantis also let me know that “Dell is teaming with Atlantis to provide the entire line of Atlantis HyperScale all-flash hyperconverged appliances on their PowerEdge FX2 platform. Atlantis HyperScale CX-4, CX-12 and CX-24 appliances are now available on Dell servers through Dell distributors and channel partners in the U.S., Europe and Middle East, shipped directly to customers”. Here’s an artist’s interpretation of the FX2.


As far as the CX-4 goes, the Dell differences are as follows:

  • Form factor – 2U 2N or 2U 4N
  • Memory per Node – 256GB – 768GB
  • Redundant Integrated 10GbE switch



Resiliency for the cluster comes by way of a mirror relationship between the two nodes in the CX-4 appliance. Atlantis also provides the ability to define an external tie-breaker virtual machine (VM). In keeping with the ROBO theme, this can be run at a central site, and multiple data centres / appliances can use the same tie-breaker VM. There is also high availability logic in the CX-4 system itself.

The tie-breaker is ostensibly there to keep in contact with the nodes and understand whether they’re up or not. In the event of a split-brain scenario, there is a fight for the tie-breaker (a single token). But what happens if the tie-breaker VM is unavailable (e.g. the WAN link is down)? There’s also an internal tie-breaker operating between the nodes, handled by a service VM on each node.



Simplicity and Scale

One of the key focus areas for Atlantis has been on simplicity, and they’ve gone to great lengths to build a solution and supporting framework ensuring that the deployment, operation and support of these appliances is simple. There’s a single point of support (Atlantis), network connectivity is straightforward, you can have IP configuration done at the factory, and everything can be managed either centrally via USX Manager or individually if required.

The CX-4 can be used as a gateway to the CX-12 if you like, simply by adding another CX-4 (2 nodes). Or you can choose to scale out, depending on your particular use case.


Further Reading and Final Thoughts

Atlantis also recently commissioned a survey that was conducted by Scott D. Lowe at ActualTech Media. You can read the results of “From the Field: Software Defined Storage and Hyperconverged Infrastructure in 2016” here. It provides an interesting insight into what is happening out there in the big, bad world at the moment, and is definitely worth a read. Scott, along with David M. Davis and James Green, has also written a book – “Building a Modern Data Center – Principles and Strategies of Design”. You can reserve your copy here. While I’m linking to articles of interest, this white paper from on the Atlantis USX solution is worth a look (registration required).

I really like the focus by Atlantis on simplicity. Particularly if you’re looking to deploy these things in a fairly remote destination.

Secondly, the built-in resiliency of the solution allows for operational efficiencies (you don’t have to get someone straight out to the site in the event of a node failure). I also like the fact that you can use these as a starting point for a HCI deployment, without a significant up-front investment. Finally, the use of all-flash helps with power and cooling, which can be a real problem in remote sites that don’t have high quality data centre infrastructure options available.

I’ve been impressed with Atlantis in the discussions I’ve had with them, and I like the look of what they’ve done with the CX-4. It strikes me that they’ve thought about a number of different scenarios and use cases, and they’ve also thought about working with customers beyond the purchase of the first appliance. Given the street price of these things, it would be worthwhile investigating further if you’re in the market for a hyperconverged solution.

Atlantis Computing – Product Announcement

I haven’t previously talked a lot about Atlantis Computing but I have a friend who joined the company a while ago and he’s been quite enthusiastic about what they’re doing in the SDS / hyperwhat space, so I figured it was worth checking out.



You may have heard that Atlantis Computing recently announced the availability of Atlantis HyperScale appliances. In a nutshell, this is a software-defined storage solution on a choice of server hardware from HP, Cisco, Lenovo or SuperMicro using a hypervisor from VMware or Citrix. It sure does look pretty.



Atlantis says it’s an all-flash, hyper-converged, turnkey hardware appliance. If that seems like a mouthful, it is. It’s also built on the Atlantis USX platform with end-to-end support provided by Atlantis. If you’re not familiar with USX, I encourage you to check out some details on it here. In short, it:

  • Is a 100% Software-Defined Storage;
  • Is an enterprise-class storage platform;
  • Pools SAN, NAS, DAS, Flash; and
  • Runs on any server, any storage (within some very specific limits).


HyperScale and Hardware-defined Software

Here’s a pretty snazzy shot of the features in HyperScale. There’s a nice overview of the available data services and REST capability.


The cool thing is you can run this on a mix of hardware vendors as well, including Cisco, HP, Lenovo and SuperMicro.

  • Fixed configurations and specifications of 12TB and 24TB;
  • Turnkey 4-node appliances; and
  • Supported by Atlantis (24x7x365 with 4 hour response).


The CX-12 and CX-24 have the following specs (depending on the vendor you choose):


Some of the models of servers cited in the briefing included (everything is 4 nodes):

  • Cisco USC C220 M4;
  • Lenovo x3550 M5;
  • SuperMicro TwinPro; and
  • HP DL360 Gen9.

This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you an idea of the type of appliance hardware in play.


Final Thoughts

Atlantis are very excited about some of the potential TCO benefits to be had in comparison with Nutanix, Simplivity and VMware’s EVO:RAIL. I’m not going to go into numbers here, but I think it would be worth your while, if you’re in the market for a Hyper solution, to have a conversation with these guys.