Journey to Cloud: Step 2 - Create a Flexible Foundation

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

By Jason Lopez

By Jason Lopez January 5, 2021

Progressive organizations have always required a mix of technologies and capabilities,” said Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO at Nutanix. “However, if IT only supports a single cloud or a single type of technology, then it can’t carry out its mission of helping everybody be productive. Ultimately, the technology must slip into the background, so it doesn’t matter what kind of hardware you use, or what kind of cloud.”

In the second segment of a 10-part Tech Barometer series Journey to Cloud, Pfeiffer shares lessons she learned shifting Nutanix into a billion-dollar, hybrid cloud-powered business. 

An effective hybrid cloud operation upholds the principle of portability – applications and workloads should be portable across any vendor’s hardware, and across any vendor’s cloud, according to Pfeiffer. To realize this vision, her team standardized on Nutanix’s Acropolis Operating System (AOS) and AHV hypervisor.

“It’s hyperconverged infrastructure that can run anywhere,” Pfeiffer said.

She said Nutanix’s hybrid cloud is built on a common operating system, a common hypervisor, and a common management layer that can be deployed interchangeably on virtually any vendor’s hardware, and in most public clouds. This type of software-driven architecture reduces capital expenses since there is no longer a need to purchase high-end proprietary hardware systems – and no need to “rip and replace” existing ones. 


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

Transcript (unedited)

Wendy Pfeiffer: Step two, this is the idea everywhere I run, I run a common foundation, the journey to cloud with Nutanix CIO, Wendy Pfeiffer. If it is going to make our companies productive, if we're going to make our employees productive, then our services need to be as easy to use as our smartphones, as easy to use as the consumer technologies that are all around us. In our work environments today, I run a foundation of our office operating system AOS, and I run our hypervisor AHV and that operating system and that hypervisor, first of all, they can run on any vendor's hardware. In my data centers. I have a mix of HPE, Lenovo Dell, IBM power. I have a mix of hardware in the old days, pre Nutanix. When I purchased, for example, Lenovo hardware, I would choose the operating system that I would run on that hardware.

And then I would be locked into that hardware. And I would be locked into that operating system for any applications that I wanted to run. And hardware vendors also had very draconian licensing practices and purchasing practices. So, you know, as an IT organization, I'd have to declare well, I'm, I'm a Lenovo shop or I'm a Dell shop. And then when I needed more capacity in order to make that, that those additional servers work with my existing servers, my existing hardware I'd have to buy the same kind. So if I had mostly Dell in my environment and I needed to expand, I would have to buy more Dell for all of those devices to work together. Well, the Nutanix operating system obviates the underlying hardware layer today. If I'm getting favorable pricing from Dell, I can purchase more Dell when I need to scale. But if next week I'm getting more favorable pricing from HPE, then I can add HPE to my environments with no penalty.

Our operating system makes all of that different hardware work together well in the same way. Likewise, I operate in public cloud and in public cloud, if you operate an application in Amazon, for example, in AWS, it is almost impossible to run that same application in the same way, the same code in Google and GCP because of these underlying differences. But when I run the things that I run on the combination of AOS and HV, that flexible foundation, now I can essentially run that infrastructure anywhere it's the infrastructure that runs anywhere on any hardware and virtually any public cloud. So we use the same software and the same code. If you will, to call that infrastructure anywhere, it's sort of like write once and reuse many, many times. So it's an incredibly efficient mode of operation. I have this very flexible foundation.

Jason Lopez: Wendy Pfeiffer is the chief information officer of Nutanix. This podcast series of 10 steps to cloud comes from her ebook, Charting the Course to Cloud. This is the Tech Barometer podcast from The Forecast.

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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