Moving Across the Channel

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After twenty-five years in the IT channel, including positions at six different solutions providers, writing columns for three different channel magazines, and seats on partner advisory councils for several manufacturers- I’ve switched sides. I recently joined Nutanix to help build a world-class worldwide partner network.

Disruptive Technologies

This was not an easy decision. I was at Presidio almost five years and had the opportunity to work with many outstanding people. I’m proud of all the great work the organization has done for clients across the country, and am particularly pleased that Presidio was recently named the VMware 2012 Global Partner of the Year. But every so often a disruptive technology emerges that compels me to bet my career on it. Nutanix has developed such a technology.

The first time a disruptive product captured my attention was nearly two decades ago when Citrix introduced WinFrame. I abandoned all our other work and refocused my Novell Platinum business around Citrix thin-client computing (as it was called then). Six years later my brother and I sold the company after being named the first U.S. Citrix Partner of the Year.

In 2005 my friend, Gary Lamb, persuaded me to overcome my reluctance to give up a cushy ROI consulting gig by showing me VMware vMotion. I knew that virtualization would forever alter the computing landscape, and we formed a company focused exclusively on enterprise virtualization.

The first disruptive virtualization platform that I saw was Cisco’s UCS which, when it debuted in 2009, was panned by competitors and industry media alike who scoffed that Cisco would never be able to compete in servers. Undismayed, I promoted UCS in my presentations, in my writings and in other forums. And despite the widespread skepticism, UCS is now the world’s number three selling blade and plays a pivotal role in the integrated infrastructure platforms of EMC/VCE, NetApp and Hitachi.


As virtualized data centers have continued to evolve, the traditional SAN and NAS-based architectures have become increasingly strained by the explosion of VMs and the resulting I/O needs of today’s enterprise data centers. Moving data between compute and storage tiers introduces unnecessary latency and storage degradation while leading to laborious administration, inflexibility and forklift upgrades.

Internet juggernauts such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, etc. avoid this problem in their environments by not utilizing SANs. They instead use custom-built servers with aggregated local storage. Four years ago, a couple of the architects of the Google File System decided they could make this same type of technology available for the masses – virtualizing the storage controllers themselves inside the hypervisor.

The culmination of their efforts, Nutanix, is the company which has built a virtual computing platform. It is simple to manage and scales with perfect linearity. When combined with minimal space requirements, low power and cooling needs, a very affordable price point, and integration into VMware vCenter for management – Nutanix is an ideal platform for the next-generation data center.

Virtual Desktops

While Nutanix is being deployed for high-performance computing requirements such as Hadoop clusters, its SAN-free architecture is driving a particularly quick adoption in virtual desktop environments.

Gartner recently studied 19 organizations that implemented VDI with either VMware View or with Citrix XenDesktop. Storage turned out to consume 40% – 60% of the entire VDI budgets, and every organization spent more on storage than expected.

Nutanix eliminates the challenge of properly sizing SANs for the demanding and variable storage requirements of VDI. And rather than facing a forklift upgrade to accommodate expanding virtual desktop environments, organizations can start small and then add nodes as PCs and laptops come up for refresh. These attributes make it possible to achieve both a significant ROI and short payback period for VDI initiatives while also improving the user experience.

Disruptive technology alone, even when augmented by the $70M of venture capital Nutanix has raised, is not enough to ensure success in our tumultuous industry. The company backs its products with a stellar team of employees including well-known VMware VCDXs such as Jason Langone and Lane Leverett. The corporate culture is passion, technology and commitment to both partner and customer success. The result is the fastest growing infrastructure start-up company in the last decade.

I’m thrilled with the opportunity to work the other side of the channel, particularly when fueled by the Nutanix rocket. I look forward to implementing the best of breed channel structure, communication and support that I’ve encountered from leading manufacturers over the decades, and to helping make our partners among the most successful in the industry.