Here I am sitting at a bar at 4.50 a.m. (jet lag is my friend!) trying to connect all the dots and write something decent about what I saw yesterday at the Nutanix annual event .NEXT.
About my backpack
I didn’t know what to expect, Nutanix is not known for being courteous when it comes to marketing (especially not in the social media) and this is also why I’m following them from a certain distance. I get updates. I’ve been following their story since the beginning but at times they seem quite arrogant and not very friendly (especially when you try to be impartial and express a different opinion).
BTW, I’m attending the event with a backpack I received at PureAccelerate (the Pure Storage event). I’m not carrying it with me because I want to publicize Pure, I actually love it because it is a sturdy bag and solves my day-to-day traveling needs. Well let me tell you, I got at least four remarks from people wearing a Nutanix branded t-shirt! The tone was all along the same lines… “it’s not appropriate…”, really? Are you kidding?!? So, at the end of the day, I promised I would wear their shoes at someone else’s event… just to make it even, ok?!
That was the premise, but I won’t base this article on that… I promise.
About the conference
Backpack incident aside, I really enjoyed my first day at .NEXT. They are not bad guys after all and they have a lot to say (they just need to talk more about themselves and less about the competition, IMHO). Something that actually happened during the keynote and in many other moments during the day.
Nutanix started as a hyperconverged player, the first one, and they built their success on top of this.
Nutanix started as a hyperconverged player, the first one, and they built their success on top of this. The solution has improved a great deal since the first release and they are still continuing to add features at an incredible pace (two major releases per year). But what surprised me yesterday was that the most interesting announcement wasn’t about the core product but about all the rest of the platform.
Last year they announced their Hypervisor, Acropolis, now in use by 15% of their customers (but it is not totally clear how many are using it in production). Even though we are not talking about 100% Acropolis installations, it’s clear that this alternative HV is making a dent in the Nutanix user base. And now they’ve doubled down with what I think could be their ace of spades: a new management tool that operates transparently across different hypervisors, hiding the ESXi/vCenter!
Containers ok, you could expect that, but file and block storage will allow to connect legacy physical systems and manage storage resources from within the same UI.
But there’s more good stuff. Nutanix has also added support for containers as well as file and block (iSCSI) services for external hosts. Containers ok, you could expect that, but file and block storage will allow to connect legacy physical systems and manage storage resources from within the same UI. Good move.
The list of announcements doesn’t stop here, but I think these are the most important bits to understand Nutanix’s ambitions.
Nutanix is betting big here
Well, Nutanix has always said since the beginning that they wanted to revolutionize the datacenter. But, you know, we should always take these statements with a grain of salt – all startups tell you the same: “We are going to disrupt the staus quo!”. But, realistically speaking, how many of them succeed in this?! Very few. I don’t know if Nutanix will succeed, it’s still too soon to say… but what I can say is that they are playing their cards very well.
Nutanix is setting itself up as a bridge between legacy infrastructure and the future (aka containers and cloud) and wants to make this transition as seamless as possible.
First of all, Nutanix is setting itself up as a bridge between legacy infrastructure and the future (aka containers and cloud) and wants to make this transition as seamless as possible. They are putting themselves at the center of the scene while hiding everything behind them… They are also one of the few showing some level of success in managing a multi-hypervisor environment and they’re betting a lot on it (making migrations even more seamless – in 1-click they swear!).
But this is only part of the story. Their plans include growing a partner ecosystem that can benefit from Nutanix’s role while bringing additional functionalities to the platform and climbing up the stack and working more at the application level to make the infrastructure even more invisible.
This is much more than hyperconvergence and the platform they are building (Platform is a word that is used a lot here) looks much more like a datacenter management platform than just an hyperconvergence infrastructure. I know that it could sound totally weird but, conceptually speaking at least, if you look at the big picture from a distance it isn’t all that different from what startups like Mesosphere are saying now: building a datacenter OS.
The platform they are building looks much more like a datacenter management platform than just an hyperconvergence infrastructure.
Closing the circle
If it wasn’t for the never ending story about the IPO and some other details about strategic partners (like Dell for example) I’d be even more positive about Nutanix. But I think we have to wait a bit longer before having a clearer idea about their chances of success. The potential is still huge… and actually growing… But again, ambitions are extremely high and it will take time for all the pieces to fall into the right place.
Ambitions are extremely high and it will take time for all the pieces to fall into the right place.
Nutanix is aiming higher than being a hyperconverge player, and this is a great differentiator in a crowded market like this. At the moment competitors with similar characteristics are very few (maybe only Dell-VCE with Vmware?) but, again, I don’t think that their success will be measured by looking at their competition.
If you want to know more about this topic, I’ll be presenting at next TECHunplugged conference in Amsterdam on 6/10/16 and in Chicago on 27/10/16. A one day event focused on cloud computing and IT infrastructure with an innovative formula combines a group of independent, insightful and well-recognized bloggers with disruptive technology vendors and end users who manage rich technology environments. Join us!
Disclaimer: I was personally invited to attend .NEXT conference, with Nutanix covering my travel and accommodation costs. However I was not compensated for my time. I am not required to blog on any content; content is not reviewed, approved or edited by any other person than the Juku team.