Let’s discover #Nutanix #NextCONF in Vienna 2016 (Pre-Conference Edition)

Here we go. Currently I am travelling from Munich to Vienna for attending Nutanix‘ European conference #NEXT. According to my information it is the biggest Nutanix event so far. 4 weeks after VMworld in Barcelona I am going to discover and learn more about one of VMware’s partner/opponent/threat – however you would like to call it.

In the following I am trying to do something like a pre-/post conference comparison. Most things I know so far about Nutanix are extracted from social media activity, customer & partner talks. During those 3 days in Vienna I hope to clarify some of the myths and try to do some kind of fact-checks.

A few of the facts I will extract from my booth/vendor visit articles I have written so far.

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Product and Company

  • Who is Nutanix?
    • A Silicon-Valley based company founded by Dheeraj Pandey (read this impressive interview about some personal background of the CEO) in 2009. Nutanix sells hyperconverged appliances with a fully integrated software-stack for Storage, Management, Scaleability and its compatibility with multiple hypervisors (vSphere, Hyper-V, KVM). At the moment Nutanix Appliances are running on Hardware by Supermicro, Dell, Lenovo, Cisco delivered as a single Stock Keepung Unit (SKU).
  • What problem does Nutanix solve and which ones does it create?
    • The main vision of Nutanix is to make the underlying infrastructure components invisible. In the Software-defined era we are moving up the stack: Software becomes more important & complex than (the operation of) the hardware. Nutanix wants to deliver us a very simple and resilient solution to run workloads in form of VMs on it. Local storage devices like SSDs and HDDs are pooled together and delivered via NFS to the hypervisor in form of a virtual appliance running on each host. With hyperconverged solutions like Nutanix no dedicated (and possibly expensive) SAN/NAS is needed.
  • We can easily scale out the environment by just adding additional nodes or appliances to the existing construct. Rack and Stack it: The Software does the rest. Appliances exist for different workload characteristics.
  • One of the biggest advantages I see within the Nutanix field is the functionality about software/firmware updates. I simply don’t care since everything is managed by the software itself. As an admin you simply push the update button and voila… that’s it (If you had different experiences or problems, please let me know).
  • What else do I know about Nutanix?
    • Nutanix is developing (and delivering) their own hypervisor and management called AHV. AHV is based on KVM while exluding all of the complexity of the KVM world.
    • Nutanix just went public in October 2016 with a price of 16$ per share.
    • Over the years Nutanix hired many experts out of the VMware field. Many of Eric Sieberts Top 50 bloggers are employees of Nutanix and Nutanix has the seconds largest amount of VCDX (after VMware) within their team.
    • Nutanix acquired Pernixdata (which offered software-based storage acceleration technologies) and shut down all of Pernixdata products. A decision I was not really happy with, but anyway:  I am looking forward how Nutanix is integrating Pernixdata’s FVP and Architect into their own solution.
    • Among the other hyperconverged solutions Nutanix is proud of their data-locality feature. The data of a workload tries always to stays as close as possible to the place where the computation takes place to decrease the latency and lower the network usage.
    • Social media fights between Nutanix and traditional SAN/NAS and other hyperconverged players (like VMware, VCE, Simplivity) is the twitter-based cinema for us Infrastructure nerds. Those ‘discussions’ are nearly similar to the 2016 presidential election in the USA.
  • Which functionalities are lacking in their hypervisor AHV?
    • Hard to say for me at the moment. AHV is a newer product within the Nutanix world. I will try to figure out more about it during the conference.
  • How easy is it to install the solution?
    • That depends. Normally Nutanix gets delivered by a Partner in a  ‘ready-to-go’ manor. You specify the hypervisor, the partner makes sure that the correct one is installed on your nodes. Once it is delivered you and your partner connect it to the network and that’s it. I heard of customer testing Nutanix where the whole process took less than 2 hours. On the other side I also had a lot of customer discussions where many things with the initial setup failed and the partner needed multiple days to get the solution up- and running. In my opinion such a scenario so is something like a neck-breaker for a demonstration and testing purpose. It’s tough enough for IT organizations to bring in new technologies like hyperconverged computing & storage. If your expectation is a highest possible simplicity during the installation, implementation and scaling part you are pretty soon getting grounded about the whole technology and vendor.

–> My recommendation for Nutanix: Better Partner training / QA mechanism.

  • How easy is a transition into production (handover/knowledge-transfer)?
    • It seems that Nutanix does a really good job in making the complexity of the infrastructure invisible. Once the first obstacle of the installation is done, a handover is quickly done. The simple PRISM interface offers a slick UI to do the regular operating tasks. If you are using Nutanix with vSphere not much will change.

Company

  • Which maturity has the company?
    • As already mentioned Nutanix went public in October 2016 with a starting price at 16$ and has an overall evaluation of more than 3bn $. At the moment Nutanix is not profitable, but demonstrate solid growth rates in every quarter so far. While writing this post the current value is at 23,37$ per share. As a shareholder I hope Nutanix can keep up their pace ;-)
  • How can you purchase the solution?
    • Nutanix delivers its appliances over a Partner network.

Market Position

  • Who are the opponents on the market?
    • Uff there are a lot. The whole hyperconverged ecosystem is a big topic at the moment for many vendors. In our industry Software is the component with which you can make money.

‘Take cheap hardware components, let the software take care of the failure tolerance and sell it as enterprise product: welcome to the hyperconverged world’.

Oh that’s a provocative statement and for sure not the case for every vendor in the game, but I hope you get the point. In the hyperconverged market the following players are important. VCE with VxRAIL (using VMware’s vSAN), Simplivity with Omnicube,  HPE Hyperconverged (based on StoreVirtual), Cisco’s Hyperconverged HX240c (based on… I have no clue).

Almost every vendor has some kind of hyperconverged idea. In the future those solutions will definitely take away market shares from pure storage vendors, making it harder for them to survive.

  • How do they differentiate from the opponents?
    • Data Locality
    • Simplicity
    • Nutanix can run on many hardware systems (gives the customer the vendor choice) while maintaining the everything out of one hand functionality.

My opinion so far

Nutanix seems to be a very interesting company with huge potential. I love their idea how infrastructure should be used. I want to take care about the business requirements, workload, performance, availability, etc. Me personally I don’t want to care about integration/installation/scaleout & storage problematics. Okok, those tasks come with the job, but I see an urgent need for higher efficiency. 2 years ago I worked in a huge project (currently running 70.000 VMs across the globe). Training, definition and knowledge-transfer of steps for installation, implementation, scaling took a huge amount of my time during the project. A solution like Nutanix would have simplified many of the problems and would have removed many of the constraints we had while designing the solution.

For me personally Nutanix is something like Ryanair in the aeronautical industry (such a cool wording – I will come to the pricing later). Existing & and older companies had well working business model. To keep up the growth rates more and more functionality and therefore complexity needed to be added. This complexity comes at a price (for the customer and the company). New functionalities need to be paid even though they are not absolutely needed (Log analysis in the virtualization field or beverages during a flight). New companies can focus on the basics and deliver those basics in the best and cheapest manor. Within the economic field those companies are called no-frill companies.

The biggest problem I currently see is different than Ryanair, Nutanix is not that cheap at all. Having seen some of the prices they put into some offering you recognize that you are far far away from any kind of low budget vendor. For sure Nutanix removes some of the OPEX, but to be honest. For most organization here (small- medium sized businesses in German) it is tough to migrate theoretical OPEX  gain into real financial benefit

I know that using the no-frill term related to Nutanix might create some discussions. So don’t feel obsessed to confront me with it in Vienna.

Nutanix influencer on Twitter

If you want to know more about Nutanix I would recommend you to follow the following persons on Twitter:

One thought on “Let’s discover #Nutanix #NextCONF in Vienna 2016 (Pre-Conference Edition)

  • 8. November 2016 at 15:17
    Permalink

    Hallo Fabian,
    sehr interessante Übersicht/Zusammenfassung zum Thema Nutanix. Leider habe ich selbst noch keine Erfahrung, aber genau deshalb bin ich sehr gespannt was du weiter über die Next Conference berichtest…

    Reply

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