Nutanix .NEXT 2017 highlights HCI vendor's partners, frenemies

While Google’s new partnership with Nutanix received a lot of attention at Nutanix .NEXT 2017, other partners of the hyper-converged vendor also made news at the user conference.

Google SVP of cloud Diane Greene shared the stage with Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey for the opening keynote to discuss their hybrid cloud partnership, but other vendor reps followed over the next few days. On the hardware side, Dell EMC, Lenovo and IBM touted their systems running Nutanix software. Dell EMC and Lenovo sell their branded appliances with Nutanix software, and IBM resells Nutanix on Power servers.

Data protection vendor Veeam Software revealed it would back up the Nutanix AHV hypervisor later this year. Converged backup vendor Rubrik said the same thing earlier in June, and Comtrade Software began selling its HYCU AHV backup software last month.

Dell EMC commitment to Nutanix deepens

Dell EMC remains Nutanix’s most interesting partner. That’s because Dell also owns VMware, which sells vSAN hyper-converged software and a little hypervisor called ESX that AHV competes against. Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged appliances — powered by vSAN — directly compete with Nutanix NX appliances.

IDC’s recent hyper-converged tracker numbers show Nutanix with 21% of the first-quarter market share from sales of its appliances and 30% when counting sales from Dell EMC XC and Lenovo appliances with Nutanix software. Dell EMC VxRail appliances with VMware vSAN software come in second at 17%.

 The Dell-Nutanix OEM relationship goes back before Dell acquired EMC. The Dell-EMC deal raised questions about the future of Dell’s relationship with Nutanix, but Dell executives have repeatedly publicly pledged their commitment to Nutanix.

Dell EMC confirmed its commitment to keep selling Nutanix at Dell EMC World last fall and this spring, and sent the president of its converged platforms group, Chad Sakac, to Nutanix .NEXT 2017.

 “I am going to make things ridiculously simple: The partnership is good, strong and growing,” Sakac said. “Michael Dell believes, and I believe, customers demand choices. We have to embrace that.

“The team that works on XC is really passionate about XC,” he said.

Dell EMC claims more than 1,200 XC customers with 14,000 nodes deployed. Sakac also said Dell EMC would expand development on the XC platform, notably integrating Data Domain and Avamar backup into Nutanix Prism.

“I can thank Michael Dell and Chad [Sakac] for helping us build this company so far,” Nutanix president Sudheesh Nair said during a Nutanix .NEXT 2017 keynote.

Sunil Potti, Nutanix chief product and development officer, said Dell EMC’s slice of the hyper-convergence market is limited if it only sells Dell appliances running VMware software.

“They still have to go after the rest of the market, which is the majority,” Potti said. “So they need multiple hypervisors and multiple platforms. That’s the reason they’re still bipolar about us.”

How much Power will IBM have in hyper-convergence?

Potti called IBM “the dark horse” in hyper-convergence. That’s because hyper-convergence is considered almost exclusively an x86 hardware play. IBM sold off its x86 business to Lenovo, but is giving hyper-convergence a shot on its Power platform.

“The issue with Power is not cost or performance,” Potti said. “The issue is operational — the number of applications certified on it, the number of tools for it. That’s what they get from this.”

Veeam CEO: Customers demand AHV data protection

Veeam CEO Peter McKay received applause during the day two Nutanix .NEXT 2017 keynote when he said his company would support AHV backup this year. McKay said in an interview afterwards that he was encouraged by the positive reaction from Nutanix customers. He said he hopes Veeam will add AHV support by the third quarter of 2017, but it will definitely have it by end of year.

“Customer demand is there,” McKay said. “Nutanix is a major disruptor, and it’s converting a large part of the market and customers are looking to get away from complex legacy systems.”

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