Pandey said the resulting economies of scale with hyperconvergence were derived by three factors: commodity-driven consolidation, the homogenization of hardware and massive standardization.
Birth of the Private Cloud
Hyperconvergence proved to be a stepping stone to the private cloud concept – another “what” for Nutanix that emerged circa 2015.
“Many functions that had previously required their proprietary hardware became apps that ran on our software,” said Pandey.
That situation allowed Nutanix to build the private cloud experience, which Pandey described as a “manifestation of some businesses wanting to own their converged infrastructures” rather than using public cloud infrastructure services.
Nutanix integrated the tools needed to build a private cloud rather than charging customers for all the piecemeal components in its software. Again, the model mirrors how consumers today don’t pay separately for camera, maps, phone, email, text functions, and so forth on a smartphone, explained Pandey.
“Then we added networking, application data storage and disaster recovery, all ‘invisible,’” said Pandey. Operating a complicated data center could now be done as easily an integrated, simple-to-use iPhone.
And like the iPhone platform, “people build applications on top of the Nutanix platform,” he said.
Twists and Turns Along the Way
Nutanix initially built its hyperconverged infrastructure on virtualization software that VMware specialists had written.
“Layering our software onto VMware became a ‘coopetition’ until eventually, VMware became a competitor like Google became an Apple competitor,” Pandey recounted.
“In 2011 and 2012, our technology didn’t work with an older version of VMware,” Pandey recalled. “We had to navigate, in 2013 and 2014, building our own compute virtualization layer.”
This led to AHV, the free Nutanix hypervisor. Pandey said that building its virtualization software showed Nutanix could adapt and continue to grow over time.
The Way Forward: A Common Cloud Operating System
Bridging private and public clouds for early adopters while continuing to support companies that are just getting their feet wet with cloud technology represents Nutanix’s main near-term purpose, said Pandey.
He envisions a common layer of operating system (OS) software on both sides of the private and public cloud boundary one day. It’s an effort that’s going to take some time and partnerships to realize.
“The public cloud pioneers built an OS for huge webscale, and they’re trying to miniaturize it and bring it to the edge,” Pandey said. “We started small and we’re trying to scale up. We’ll probably meet somewhere in the middle.”