Guiding Customers Along Their Hybrid Multicloud Path

How answering customer questions led Nutanix to create verified blueprints and strategies that help IT teams achieve valuable business outcomes.

By Tom Mangan

By Tom Mangan November 2, 2022

Every vendor selling hybrid multicloud solutions promises a customer-centric approach. But how do the most customer-focused vendors pull it off?

Rahul Tripathi’s experience provides an intriguing case study. Tripathi spoke to The Forecast while he was chief technology officer for customer success and vice president/general manager of services and solutions at Nutanix, which specializes in hybrid multi-cloud software. Tripathi joined the company’s executive ranks in 2018 after leadership stints at HPE, Cisco Systems and VMWare.

Since its founding in 2009, Nutanix has put the customer at the center of its business. Tripathi pointed out that with a Net Promoter Score of 90 or above, Nutanix has earned a strong reputation for customer satisfaction. The Net Promoter Score ranges from -100 to 100 and is based on a two-minute survey that gives insights about customer loyalty by measuring customers’ willingness to recommend a business.


How Tech Turns Customer Service from Reactive to Predictable

Tripathi joined Nutanix amid the ascendancy of hybrid multicloud. Customers wanted to run their IT operations with it, but there were so many uncertainties. Which apps should remain on-prem? Why do some workloads run better on one public cloud versus another? How do we balance public and on-prem to drive the best business outcomes?

These points of confusion often boiled down to a single question that Tripathi recalled in an interview with The Forecast: “Knowing you have some of the best brains in the industry. How would you do it?”

Tripathi said an enterprise can spend many months deciding on a new software solution. Even after they’ve signed the paperwork, they’re often unsure what to do next. That’s where his team comes in to help by focusing on and strengthening the IT team’s strategy.

“We really dig our heels in and understand the challenges holding customers back from reaching their goals,” Tripathi said.

Look for Patterns

Tripathi spent more than two decades in the technology sector before coming to Nutanix, where it fell to his team to answer the “how would you do it” question.

“Just giving them the product is not going to cut it,” he recalled. 


Three Pillars of Hybrid Multicloud Success

Sure, his team could walk enterprise customers through an optimum implementation of hybrid cloud infrastructure. It would be an excellent example of intimate, customer-centered service.

But that process can’t scale. The manual labor would be too costly for Nutanix and its customers.

“Then we found some patterns,” Tripathi said. 

Most enterprises modernizing their IT ecosystems needed to embrace the public cloud while retaining relevant on-prem infrastructure. They wanted the freedom to build new applications that can connect to the old apps. And they had to keep their current technology team. 

“A lot has changed in the world of IT and it requires new skills and thinking,” he added.

Blueprint for Hybrid Cloud Adoption

Tripathi’s team crafted a blueprint that guides clients along a hybrid cloud path suited to meet their business needs. He said it was all driven by the customers’ hunger for answers.

“We started building reference architectures for hybrid cloud,” Tripathi said. “We collected our best brains in the company and worked together in a room for a week until they came up with the 20 decisions you need to make while building a world-class hybrid cloud infrastructure.

The reference architecture suggested options and helped the customer figure out why they should choose one variable over another.

But Nutanix’s experts learned customers weren’t eager to play 20 Questions to master the details of hybrid cloud. Customers wanted a recipe with Nutanix’s stamp of approval, said Tripathi. 

“That’s when we moved to a validated design,” Tripathi said.

Validated Design Helps Customers

Tripathi likened the development of a validated design process to the decisions that go into preparing a good meal.


Validated Way for Moving Between Private Data Centers and Public Cloud

Nutanix’s initial reference architecture was more like the traditional process of a home-cooked dinner. Home chefs buy main courses, make the sauce and chop vegetables. But that’s only the beginning. They also need a good cookbook and recipe to produce a delectable meal. And they’ll need years of kitchen experience for all the nuances of cooking times and temperatures to make the meal truly great.

“And it may or may not come out the way they want,” Tripathi said.  

A validated hybrid-cloud design, by contrast, is a customer-centric solution that looks more like the modern meal kits that busy foodies order online. It comes with all the required ingredients in precise proportions and clear directions on preparing everything. Dinner doesn’t mean two hours of labor with an uncertain outcome. It’s 30 minutes, and customers know what to expect. They also enjoy a strong likelihood of getting it.

“You’ll get the outcome you want in a fixed time,” he added. “We have given you everything, and that really improves your time to value.”

Moreover, the validated hybrid-cloud design can be delivered as a service solution. 

“It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering a meal where you can get a much, much better experience,” Tripathi said.

‘Fighting for the Underserved Customer’  

Tripathi climbed the leadership ranks in some of Silicon Valley’s most storied firms. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise traces its roots to a famous garage in Palo Alto, California. Cisco’s routers ushered in the Internet revolution. VMware reinvented the concept of virtualizing hardware operations.

Those companies needed a strong customer focus to become technology titans. But Tripathi saw something different at Nutanix, known as a pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure, which virtualizes compute, storage and networking in a single software package.

“A couple of things from Nutanix really resonated with me,” Tripathi said in a 2019 interview with the Udacity Thought Leader Series. 

“Number one was their vision. This is the first company I came across which actually wants its work to be invisible — to make it so simple that people don't even notice it.”

And the second thing? 

“Their cultural principles are being hungry, humble and honest, which at this stage in my career really resonates because we want more companies to be insurgents fighting for the underserved customer.”

Testing Hybrid Cloud Capabilities in Real-World Scenarios

Nutanix’s customer-centered hybrid cloud architectures emerge from a laboratory that explores challenges from multiple angles.


The Race to Hybrid Multicloud Interoperability

“Our best services people, product people and IT people put our heads together and say, ‘This is the best-designed machine we can make,’ ” Tripathi told The Forecast. 

The lab fully replicates a data center environment. 

“When we see an innovative design, it’s been tested out in our lab,” he said. “It has gone through all the common scenarios, and we share the test results freely with our customers.”


Enterprise Computing Lab Boosts Hybrid and Multicloud Data Center Innovation

Designs must pass muster with Nutanix’s IT practitioners, who often encounter issues that the engineers cannot anticipate.

“Between the engineers, QA and the practitioner testing, I think we are making our products and solutions more robust for our customers,” Tripathi said. “Very few companies do it well, to be honest.”

Moving the Customer to the Center

Tripathi said Nutanix’s customer-centric approach is unlike traditional tech companies. 

“We start from the customer and then we create functions and groups that make sense from the customer side,” he said.


Built-in Customer Experience Analytics Boost ROI

This means developing intimacy with customer needs and building solutions around their distinct requirements, both in software and in services. Intimacy also extends to Nutanix sales teams, who often are immersed in the challenges their customers face.

“It's all customer experience,” Tripathi concluded. “We understand what a customer needs, and whatever is required, we provide it.”

It’s not just about delivering software and explaining how to use it, he said. 

“It’s about being a reliable strategic partner who can jump into the trenches with a customer and share our expertise.

Learn more about the Nutanix Cloud Platform.

Tom Mangan is a contributing writer. He is a veteran B2B technology writer and editor, specializing in cloud computing and digital transformation. Contact him on his website or LinkedIn.

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