Nutanix Is Reasserting Itself as an Alternative to VMware in the Data Center and in the Cloud

Summary Bullets:

• Nutanix marked its ten-year anniversary with an expanded commitment to providing new on-premises support for emerging workloads, and solutions that enable hybrid and multi-cloud architectures.

• New solutions like Nutanix Xi Clusters on AWS promise to further intensify the growing competition in the fast-changing market for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions.

This year’s Nutanix .NEXT conference in Copenhagen was a milestone event for the company, marking just over ten years since it was first established, and giving Nutanix a timely forum in which to map out its strategy for the next ten years.

Nutanix remains committed to its original goal of offering enterprise customers an alternative to VMware, which is still the dominant provider of data center IT equipment and maintains an 80% plus share of the market for server virtualization software. Nutanix also remains committed to providing its customers with a way of simplifying and modernizing their on-premises IT environments. The company’s Acropolis-branded hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform and its KVM-based AHV hypervisor remain core product offerings. However, increasingly, they are positioned as foundational solutions that underpin Nutanix’s wider mission to support its customers’ digital transformation strategies and enable the adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud architectures.

The focus on hybrid cloud is partly a recognition of the continued importance of on-premises environments for many enterprises. On the one hand, Nutanix aims to make private clouds easier to manage, as well as ensure they can handle new, more demanding workloads. Specific initiatives include the integration of Nutanix’s HCI platform with ServiceNOW’s IT Operations Management solution; this is intended to provide more automation capabilities to customers that need to operate complex IT footprints at scale, as well as those that need to support critical and advanced business applications. They also include the introduction of new capabilities for managing application containers. For example, in April 2019 Nutanix announced the general availability of its Certified Kubernetes solution, Nutanix Karbon. With Nutanix Karbon, customers are able to develop and run both VM and container-based applications within their on-premises Nutanix environments.

On the other hand, Nutanix is rolling out new hybrid cloud solutions based on partnerships with leading public cloud providers. For example, in May 2019 Nutanix announced a new hybrid cloud offering with Amazon Web Services (AWS) called Nutanix Xi Clusters on AWS. Nutanix Xi Clusters are designed to look virtually the same as on-premises Nutanix clusters and run directly on AWS EC2 bare metal instances. Use cases for Xi Clusters on AWS include the migration of existing applications and workloads to the public cloud, the consolidation of on-premises data center resources, and the use of the public cloud as a source of additional on-demand capacity.

The new hybrid cloud offering with AWS will enhance Nutanix’s ability to compete with VMware, which is also targeting enterprise demand for hybrid cloud solutions. In August 2019 VMware reported a fourfold year-on-year increase in the number of customers using its VMware Cloud on AWS hybrid cloud offering, which is now available in 16 global regions. In addition to expanding geographical availability, VMware is developing the ability of VMware Cloud on AWS to support more advanced applications, including AI and data analytics workflows. This means that Nutanix will have to work hard to catch up with VMware in terms of reach and capabilities, once Nutanix Xi Clusters on AWS finally becomes available.

Meanwhile, Nutanix is also forging hybrid cloud partnerships with other leading public clouds, notably Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Ultimately, these initiatives will benefit Nutanix customers, giving them access to new service capabilities and strengthening their ability to support new and more demanding workloads. They will also help to further intensify the growing competition in the fast-changing market for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions.


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