Nutanix Glossary

Nutanix vs. VMware: Comparing Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Hybrid Cloud Solutions

June 21, 2023 | min

The history: Nutanix and VMware

Nutanix and VMware are two of the most recognized names in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and virtualization. Nutanix pioneered the HCI market, modernizing IT design and operations via a web-scale, distributed cloud architecture using off-the-shelf servers to run all your business-critical workloads and cloud-native applications.

VMware redefined the IT landscape using virtualization with its popular vSphere product enabling multiple workloads to run on the same physical server. Nutanix® HCI is listed on VMware’s Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) with certified compatibility to run VMware vSphere’s ESXi® hypervisor, which simplifies management and offers a virtualization platform for VMware vSphere users. For non-VMware users, Nutanix also offers the Nutanix AHV® hypervisor.

Although thousands of enterprise IT teams around the world use both companies’ products, the two companies today are rivals in key markets, including HCI, virtualization, IT automation, hybrid cloud management, software-defined file storage, and network-based microsegmentation..

As the public cloud becomes a dominant IT strategy, organizations everywhere are looking past VMware vSphere and migrating to Nutanix Cloud Platform, which offers a future-proof architecture and enablement of a multi-vendor strategy that reduces risk with the choice to run the most common applications and workloads.

How do Nutanix and VMware meet customer needs?

While technology architectures vary widely based on unique business requirements, Nutanix and VMware both offer solutions to meet these needs. Exploring the differences between each solution helps align where VMware can meet your needs running VMware vSphere on Nutanix HCI today, and how the Nutanix Cloud Platform can adapt to your business requirements in the future, as things change.

VMware architecture: made for virtualization

VMware has focused on delivering virtualization marketed as being generally effective for these use cases:

  • Running virtualized workloads that are certified for VMware vSphere/VMware hypervisor ESXi
  • Using VMware Cloud to help you move VMware virtualized workloads to the various public clouds

These approaches can be restrictive when the need to expand beyond VMware arises, such as:

  • Enabling  a multi-vendor strategy to configure a true hybrid cloud solution without the risk of virtualization lock-in
  • Scaling workloads across a diverse set of public and private clouds
  • Enabling a flexible choice of hardware, hypervisor and cloud provider
  • Reducing the total cost of ownership without major technical and architectural changes

Nutanix is made to simplify virtualization, and with, running vSphere on Nutanix can simplify how you adapt faster while making architectural changes much easier and more flexible for whatever tomorrow brings.

Nutanix architecture: ready for today and for whatever comes tomorrow 

From day one, Nutanix was founded on the core tenet of flexibility. Nutanix supports multiple hardware configurations, multiple virtualization hypervisors and multiple clouds. For example, Nutanix HCI software supports the most popular hypervisors in the industry – VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V®, and the Nutanix (license-free) AHV hypervisor.

In fact, while many  Nutanix customers choose to run ESXi on the Nutanix platform today, a number of others choose Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V and even more customers are now switching to Nutanix AHV to reduce virtualization licensing costs, enable a single pane-of-glass management across hypervisors, and provide the ability to run business-critical workloads.

Equally important, the Nutanix lifecycle provides for a flexible adaptation when your architecture needs change or when market conditions or technology solutions dictate. Nutanix delivers on key concepts like:

  • Facilitating the management of dual-hypervisors which may reduce cost and offload risk by utilizing a multi-vendor solution strategy
  • Introducing user-focused self-service options and integration with partners like ServiceNow 

Overall, Nutanix delivers further hybrid cloud value outside of legacy virtualization solutions by:

  • Enabling a multi-vendor strategy to reduce the risk of a single virtualization platform
  • Scaling business-critical and cloud-native workloads across public and private clouds
  • Running different hypervisors simultaneously under a single management “pane of glass” 
  • Protecting your freedom to choose the best hardware and cloud provider for your solution
  • Enabling the possibility for significant reductions to the total cost of ownership with web-scale design through software-defined-storage 
  • Technology offerings to enable portability of Nutanix NCI licenses between on-premises, the edge and public clouds, such as the AWS® and Azure® clouds.

And because Nutanix modeled its solutions on popular cloud and SaaS offerings, Nutanix products are known for full lifecycle simplicity and ease of use – from initial deployment, production scaling, and troubleshooting. Nutanix is a complete platform architecture that enables workloads to scale from on-premises to the edge to the cloud, always with cost-efficiency as top of mind.

Comparing hyperconverged infrastructure solutions from Nutanix and VMware

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of HCI architectures from Nutanix vs. VMware:

Hypervisors supported VMware ESXi, Nutanix AHV, Microsoft Hyper-V
VMware ESXi only
Additional hypervisor licenses required AHV virtualization included at no additional cost Virtualization licenses are sold separately per CPU
Architectural design Modern web-scale architecture using HCI Legacy storage technologies retrofitted into software-defined solutions
Native file storage services Yes, via Nutanix Files Yes, via File Services
Native object storage services Yes, via Nutanix Objects No native support. Third party products required
Automated database management, provisioning, and security Yes, via Nutanix Database Service
No support
Automated machine learning for workload-based resource anomalies Yes No
Low-latency application performance via data locality Yes Limited

Creating a multi-vendor strategy that adapts to a shifting landscape

Organizations must have the agility to adapt to unpredictable changes in the vendor landscape. For example, mergers and acquisitions can raise risk through product rationalization or price increases that may cause business disruption, create uncertainty, force untimely changes and increase costs.

Options to consider when deciding on a multi-vendor strategy are:

  • Platform flexibility to run multiple vendor solutions
  • License portability and choice 
  • Support quality and extend reach to reduce downtime
  • Cost consistency without being blindsided by changing price overhead

It is important to note that when it comes to customer loyalty, customer recommendations and repeat business, Nutanix consistently outranks the competition, with a Net Promoter Score of 92.

As the unknown of VMware’s future with the Broadcom acquisition looms, Nutanix is committed to supporting the aforementioned considerations with certainty and transparency. We can’t imagine a world without VMware, nor should you, but if a choice must be made to find an alternative, Nutanix may help you avoid the risk of significant business disruption due to an inflexible technology solution.

Run all your workloads, your way

The Nutanix future-proof architecture reduces risk by enabling a multi-vendor strategy that runs your applications and workloads in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective way. As they extend beyond their original borders to the network edge, end-user devices and public clouds, you can run your applications and workloads flexibly, on the cloud of your choice and, securely and under your control

Business-critical applications, cloud-native applications, data lakes, and unstructured data are examples of how our view of modern IT workloads is changing, synonymous with cloud-like designs. Nutanix HCI was born from the same DNA that built how the modern web scales, and has incorporated web-scale for workloads that span multiple servers, datacenters and cloud environments. This idea has spawned a unique attribute to Nutanix: Choice.

Your choice to:

  • Extreme flexibility in selecting the  off-the-shelf hardware you want
  • Create networks that intelligently scale
  • Run workloads where you need them to run, not within the confines of a rigid architecture
  • Stand-up data-centric designs focused on your business
  • Decide on a license model that makes sense to your budget, whether that’s CAPEX or OPEX focused
  • Align public clouds to do what they do best, run dynamic workloads and data, and keep static workloads under your control in a private cloud

Comparing hybrid cloud solutions from Nutanix and VMware

Below is a quick comparison of a few hybrid-cloud features from Nutanix vs. VMware:

Hybrid Cloud
Delivery model Customer managed for full flexibility Available only as a VMware-managed service
Public clouds supported AWS and Azure (announced support) AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud
Integration with public clouds Natively integrated
Requires proprietary gateways for network integration
Nutanix license portability between public and private clouds Supported on AWS and Azure Limited support
VM hibernation to reduce costs Supported
Not available

Nutanix provides a platform of choice, and choice is the basis of a true hybrid cloud to future-proof, reduce risk and run things your way.

Related resources


The Definitive Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure


Building a Business Case for HCI

Why VMware Runs Better with Nutanix HCI cover

Why Nutanix HCI and VMware Run Great Together 

Related products and solutions

Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure

Standardize on powerful and secure hyperconverged infrastructure to deliver all applications and data at any scale, on any cloud.

AHV Virtualization

AHV offers a secure, enterprise-grade virtualization solution that streamlines operations to run all your workloads.

Hybrid Multicloud

Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure is the vehicle for your journey to the cloud, bridging private, public, and distributed clouds into hybrid multiclouds.

Compare Nutanix vs. VMware

Let’s Get Started!

Schedule a personalized demo with a solution consultant and see how Nutanix Enterprise Cloud can transform your business.