Nutanix and Cisco UCS: On Responsibility and Change

August 18, 2016 | By Sudheesh Nair
| min

Innovation in business never rests. It demands that all functions in organizations must constantly adapt if the business is to thrive over time.

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If organizational functions fail to adapt, they become the weak link that holds back the organization. This includes the IT department. This also includes the vendors that serve IT. At Nutanix, this includes ourselves.

We pride ourselves in pioneering new features and capabilities that deliver the flexible IT infrastructure customers need for their applications. From application mobility, data protection and new file and block services features in our Acropolis distributed file system to the intuitive management and new predictive analytics functions built in our Prism interface, we provide new found freedom for IT organizations to innovate. These capabilities have already accelerated the ability of over 3,000 IT organizations around the globe to ultimately deliver better products and services to their own customers.

But developing new products alone is not sufficient to deliver on Nutanix’ heart-felt mission of freeing IT from old infrastructure silos by making infrastructure so simple, flexible and reliable it becomes invisible. We must also continue to develop new ways of bringing our products to customers around the world who are used to years, if not decades, of buying legacy infrastructure consisting of servers, switch fabrics and external storage arrays.

Even as a young company, Nutanix went against the conventional wisdom of conservative expansion and instead aggressively entered scores of new countries overseas. The customer feedback we received allowed us to quickly improve our offerings with rapid iterations. This constant, and unparalleled, innovation in the enterprise infrastructure industry has enabled Nutanix to become the recognized worldwide leader in the so-called hyperconverged market despite dozens of competitors – several of whom are multi-billion dollar enterprises.

In order to leverage one of the industry’s most respected brands and global distribution channel, we entered into an OEM model with Dell two years ago. A second OEM agreement with Lenovo last year builds upon their world-class servers, acquired legacy IBM business relationships and their ability to reach customers in countries such as China.

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While Nutanix and our two valued OEM partners are making huge gains in propagating invisible infrastructure, we still have a long way to go to make enterprise cloud the worldwide datacenter standard. We must further adapt our distribution model in order to bring Nutanix freedom to more customers. This entails pressing outside our comfort zone and embracing change.

As an initial step, we offered our software for use on ruggedized platforms designed for harsh environments typical in the defense and energy exploration industries. A partnership with Crystal Group utilizes the specialized hardware platform they provide to these customers. The success of this partnership drove home the importance of catering to different segments of customers wanting access to the Nutanix software capabilities.

Cisco UCS enjoys a particularly loyal following of users who, while enamored with the Nutanix enterprise cloud, are not inclined to migrate their platforms to the Nutanix NX family nor to our OEM partners, Dell and Lenovo. These customers prefer to build upon their UCS server hardware with not just a software-defined infrastructure, but with a mature, highly proven Nutanix product that embodies the same type of innovation that UCS originally brought to the virtualized datacenter.

After many months of extensive testing of Nutanix Acropolis and Prism software on UCS with both customers and partners, Nutanix has decided to offer this capability to all UCS C-series customers. Lacking an OEM appliance agreement with Cisco, Nutanix created a new software-only approach specifically for UCS.

This distribution model change was by no means easy. Without intimate insight into the full hardware stack nor the foresight into upcoming hardware changes as we do with our OEM partners, we shifted our focus to responding quickly to UCS hardware updates as they appear on the market. We are confident that Nutanix now can offer the similar world-class capabilities and software support to UCS shops as to our other NX and OEM customers.

This software distribution model for UCS further enables our mission of freeing more customers from the silos of traditional IT infrastructure.

Cisco® and Cisco UCS® are the registered trademarks of Cisco Technology, Inc. Nutanix is not associated with, sponsored or endorsed by Cisco.