The Journey to Cloud: Step 4 - Focus on the User Experience

In the 4th of a 10-part Tech Barometer podcast series, Nutanix CIO Wendy M. Pfeiffer explains how the shift to hybrid cloud is about bringing better user experiences across the company so employees can work securely, efficiently and remotely.

By Jason Lopez

By Jason Lopez January 22, 2021

Ultimately, corporate IT services should be as easy to operate as a smartphone, said Wendy Pfeiffer, CIO of Nutanix.

“You simply choose the apps that you want to use and the technology adapts to your preferences,” she said. “Thus hybrid cloud starts with the notion that there is a right way, an optimal way, to run IT services. IT should become a partner to the business, and the technology we provide should make most computing activities invisible.”

In part four of the 10-part Tech Barometer podcast series “Journey to Cloud,” Pfeiffer shares lessons she learned shifting Nutanix into a billion-dollar, hybrid cloud-powered business. This series is based on the ebook Charting the Course to Cloud

Her fourth step focuses on user experiences of Nutanix employees as well as her IT team. She said eliminating silos in the data center has a ripple effect that makes everything easier and more responsive, from deploying new apps to provisioning cloud databases. This enables digital experiences to be deployed across the company easier and faster.


Invisible Hybrid Cloud Reformatting Business Mindset

She explains the importance of understanding the needs of different groups inside the company. For example, sales teams need to work remotely and have secure reliable access to Nutanix data and applications wherever they go. Giving her IT team tools like virtual desktop infrastructure or desktop as a service all her IT team to serve sales teams and easily keep their applications up to date. These tools also allow the IT to operate these tools from anywhere, using their choice of devices.

Transcript (unedited):

Jason Lopez: In our data centers and in our environments we're sort of like Noah's Ark. I have at least two of every app you can imagine. And every network device you can imagine, and every service you can imagine running somewhere in one of my environments, running that overall giant mixed on-premise and SAS set of applications and services across mixed hardware and multiple global data centers and public clouds, it could be massively confusing and dysfunctional to the people who have to access that. 

The journey to cloud with Nutanix CIO, Wendy Pfeiffer.  

Wendy M. Pfeiffer: The first thing we had to do was learn about our users, who are they? Can they be classified into groups? Do they have unique requirements? Are they accessing systems in a particular way? 

Now we're onto step four of our journey, the user experience. Ultimately, when we get infrastructure out of the way, when we begin to be able to call infrastructure as code, and we begin to be able to use the same team and the same software processes and the same automation to run our workloads in any mode. This gives me the capability to look at the capacity that this frees up in my team. Now we're focused on our mission at Nutanix. We have some big blocks of specialized users. One block of specialized users is our salespeople. And one block of specialized users is our engineers. They had very, very different requirements and modes of operation. So one of the things that happened is we needed to enable secure access to our environments, especially our build and develop environments for our software developers. And so for those folks, it is very, very resource intensive compute and storage intensive to develop and test operating system code.


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

And that's our company's intellectual property. So we needed to create environments that were absolutely secure, and that could be securely accessed from anywhere in the world. What we did is we worked with the folks at Citrix to certify Citrix VDI, to run performantly and securely and well on our Nutanix operating system and hypervisor. And then we created these secure environments in our own data centers for our engineers to connect to and to operate and run and do their jobs. And so we have literally thousands of connecting securely over Citrix and AOS and HV into our core data centers and environments and running their code. And that's the way they prefer to operate our sales people. On the other hand, they are mostly remote. They're visiting a customer and prospect in different environments...around the world. They're not necessarily connected directly to our engineering hubs. 

Of course, in these times of global pandemic, everyone's remote salespeople also need to interact with our CRM systems and with product information and demo environments and so on, but that interaction needs to take place over public internet. And so for those folks, we use a Nutanix VDI technology called frame. This is a new kind of EDI that operates performantly over public internet, that offers security, that offers flexibility. And it took us less than a day to enable this environment for thousands of our remote workers. And what frame allows them to do is it allows us to create persistent user profiles for them, so that when they log in, we know who they are and we give them access to their data and their tools and the things that they need to do their jobs all over public internet. So we have one shared private cloud and that shared private cloud can be accessed in different ways and in different modes, by our different groups of users providing that access would actually have involved building out new and separate environments with any other vendors. Technology. 

Wendy Pfeiffer is the chief information officer of Nutanix. This podcast series of 10 steps to cloud comes from her. E-book charting the course to cloud. This is the tech barometer podcast from the forecast. Listen to other podcasts in this series with Wendy Pfeiffer 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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