Nutanix, Citrix partner on scalable enterprise VDI solution for around $500 (really)

Nutanix’s president acknowledged that the industry’s previous announced attempts at a low-cost VDI solution have been basically junk, which have left customers suspicious of such claims. Nutanix InstantON VDI for Citrix, on the other hand, is an enterprise-capable turnkey solution, which really will come in in the $500 price range, including the endpoint.

Sudheesh Nair300

Sudheesh Nair, Nutanix’s president

LAS VEGAS – Today, at the Citrix Synergy event, Nutanix announced Nutanix InstantON VDI for Citrix, a VDI offering that is both easy to manage and scalable, and which is being offered at price points which have been claimed before, but which Nutanix says in this case provides a legitimate enterprise class product, rather than crap.

“When it comes to VDI, the vendor community has lost credibility in the past by saying stuff that doesn’t make sense,” said Sudheesh Nair, Nutanix’s president. “We promised $500 VDI before, and customers learned that for that price, it will be slow, or won’t work well or won’t scale. As a result, the market is completely skeptical when it comes to this kind of announcement. But for the first time, we and Citrix are able to deliver scalable enterprise class VDI with three years of support, for approximately $415. Including a low cost endpoint like Raspberry Pi-based devices, the total would be around $500.”

For $415, the InstantON VDI bundle provides Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition, the Nutanix enterprise cloud platform, the Nutanix AHV [Acropolis Hypervisor], Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) integration and three years of support.

Nair said that while Nutanix and Citrix have been strong partners pretty much from Nutanix’s inception, this is by far the most significant thing they have done together.

“This takes our partnership with Citrix to a whole new level,” Nair said. “The only thing we have done like this so far in terms of its scope would be our OEM partnership with Dell. We also have a relationship with VMware, and it speaks to the maturity of Citrix that they understand the overlaps of interest and conflict, and understand where we should partner. I wish all companies in this industry were as mature. It’s becoming a lost art.”

Nair said that InstantON provides a fully integrated stack which leverages Citrix’s tremendous strength in app virtualization, which is what customers are looking for,

“What we have done is go out and deliver a completely integrated stack solution that is easy to start and easy to scale,” he said. “It is fully integrated from the engineering side. We have built our own API layer that sits between Citrix Studio and Acropolis.”

Nair also emphasized that InstantON isn’t a niche play, but a solution that addresses most VDI uses cases.

“This isn’t GPU-focused, so there will be graphic-rich use cases where this won’t work well,” he said. “But it’s also not something that is just suited for very light duties, like in a call centre. This should appeal to the majority of workloads. We are defining this as suitable for the space between 300 users up to 30,000, everything except for the very top of the pyramid that requires custom engagements. There are also no ‘gotchas,’ where we do something like sock it to you on the second year of support.”

The plan is to take this to market through both the Citrix and the Nutanix channels.

“Citrix has both a strong software channel and a strong hardware channel, and our hope is that this will find traction in both,” Nair said. “We want to enable both their hardware and software partners to take this and run with it, by making it such an easy solution for them.

Nair also indicated that they think that this solution is ideally suited for the Canadian market.

“Canada has had two issues up to now for this type of solution,” he said. “First, it required some time for Canadians to trust a non-local company like us. Secondly, while Canada is close to the U.S. geographically, it is really more like Europe when it comes to buying patterns, where price is more important. We believe that our market leadership in the last four years has prepared us to succeed in Canada. With this, we can check both those two boxes. We can hit that price band, and we now have the references from Canadian customers to impress the market.”

Finally, Nair stated that InstantON stands to benefit because of the pending acquisition of VMware by Dell, as part of the EMC transaction — taking a none-too-subtle swipe at Nutanix ally Dell in the process.

“The largest hypervisor company in the world will now be owned by a server company,” he said. “I am sure that every other server company will be concerned how they will build solutions based on servers in the future. VMware has had close to a monopoly in hypervisors, but this situation makes it clear that we need to have a strong alternative outside VMware. Nutanix is the only hyper-converged company who doesn’t have to use vSphere. Our AHV is designed for a cloud-ready world, a no-SAN world. I think it is time to modernize the hypervisor and make it invisible with AHV at the same time. A well-designed hypervisor should be invisible. That’s the approach we have taken with AHV. You should never need to think about it – like the battery on the iPhone.”

Nutanix InstantON VDI for Citrix will be available for ordering in June 2016.