Journey to Cloud: Step 1 - Define New Infrastructure Standards

In the first of a 10-part Tech Barometer podcast series, Nutanix CIO Wendy M. Pfeiffer explains why creating a common foundation – based on a hypervisor to virtualize and hyperconverged infrastructure to scale – is the first step toward a hybrid cloud IT operation.

By Jason Lopez

By Jason Lopez December 4, 2020

Why are we not using our own hypervisor? asked Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO at Nutanix. She joined the company in 2017 with a reputation for getting technology companies to run on the products they make and sell to customers.

She was shocked by what she found.

Nutanix was not using its own free virtualization hypervisor, called AHV. Not only that, she was stuck with a steep true-up bill for the hypervisor the company was using. That hypervisor was costing millions to renew, and that fee was going right into the pocket of a Nutanix competitor.

Partly as a result of cost-cutting necessities, but also to demonstrate how Nutanix software can anchor a global hybrid cloud, Pfeiffer led her team on a transformative journey. The goal was to make IT easier to scale and manage, more automated and more readily accessible, so employees could focus on their work and not be held back by inscrutable procedures and frustrating delays. 

In part one of a 10-part Tech Barometer series, Pfeiffer shares lessons she learned shifting Nutanix into a billion-dollar, hybrid cloud-powered business. She provides personal anecdotes, insights and tips that can help other companies move along their journey to hybrid cloud.

How a Billion-Dollar Business Moved to Hybrid, Multi-Cloud IT

In the series, Pfeiffer explains how Nutanix already had some applications running in public clouds, along with robust on-premises systems based on Nutanix’s unique hyperconverged infrastructure. The IT team envisioned a hybrid cloud that would take these IT assets to the next level, relying on a single code base that could span both public and private data centers.

She said the new platform needed to move workloads interchangeably among different types of clouds without requiring administrators to learn new management practices or master different tools including application development, QA, training systems, customer insights and support. Her team wanted to easily move virtual machines and applications without a rewrite or translation of the underlying code. 

In the series, Pfeiffer tells how the IT team used the Data Mover feature of Nutanix AHV hypervisor to migrate the company’s critical workloads off of VMware ESXi, a decision that saved a significant amount of money on licensing fees and brought other performance benefits. 

TRANSCRIPT (unedited)

Step one, the journey to cloud with Nutanix CIO, Wendy Pfeiffer.

When I started at Nutanix, we were running many of our core applications and systems on our operating system, which is called AOS. At the time we were also VMware's the sixth-largest licensed holder in Silicon Valley. And my first week on the job I was presented with, VMware's true up bill for our environments. And it was a multi-million dollar true-up bill. And I remember going home and saying to my husband, I think I'm going to be fired. When I started out three and a half years ago, Nutanix already had apps running in public clouds along with some very large scale on-premise cloud environments. And those on-premise environments were running on our hyper-converged infrastructure, but only just barely on our journey from private cloud to hybrid cloud, we needed to undertake some key steps to get us from the standard mode of it operation to an enhanced mode of it. Operation known as hybrid cloud operation.

I'm working at a company that has a free hypervisor, and yet I've just been presented with a multimillion-dollar hypervisor bill from VMware. So something's wrong? Why are we not using our own hypervisor? What I discovered is it was for the most basic of, and sort of innocent of reasons. It was because we never really had time. We never really had the impetus to move the environments from ESX PSI to our hypervisor AHV. Once I understood what was at stake in terms of the company's money, we began the migration process and we worked with the engineering team to, uh, define our need for data movement. And we spent, I had planned out a long timeline with, you know, extensive change management and so on, but we spent about four months to move all of our environments off of VMware's ESX PSI and onto Nutanix AHV. And at a minimum, we saved millions and millions of dollars in licensing fees. But what we also created was a common substrate, a common foundation on to which we now operate.

Wendy Pfeiffer is the chief information officer of Nutanix check out the ebook on how she led Nutanix it to hybrid cloud. It's called charting the course to cloud. You can find it using that title in search. This is the check barometer podcast from the forecast. There are more podcasts in this series with Wendy Pfeiffer, the Journey to Cloud at

Jason Lopez is executive producer of Tech Barometer, the podcast outlet for The Forecast. He’s the founder of Connected Social Media. Previously, he was executive producer at PodTech and a reporter at NPR.

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