Nutanix targets large enterprises with IBM Power Systems partnership

Nutanix’s latest full-blown vendor partnership will see them strengthen their presence in the high end of the market, with product that will be sold by IBM and its channel.

Raja Mukhopadhyay, VP, Product Management at Nutanix

Nutanix has another major partnership to extend its market reach, with an agreement with IBM. The deal will see Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud Platform come to market on turnkey hyper-converged solutions with IBM Power Systems’ scale-out platforms. These will be sold by IBM and its partner channel.

Nutanix has its own channel of resellers. They have, however, developed a substantial channel through partnerships with major OEMs, in which their branded software is sold on the partners’ hardware. Dell was the first of these, in 2015, and the Dell XC series with Nutanix software is still going strong, with a major refresh announced last week at Dell EMC World. Last year, after Dell announced the acquisition of EMC, Dell made another major partnering, with Lenovo. Now with IBM, they have pulled off a trifecta. Nutanix has also announced support for other vendors’ products, Cisco last year, and more recently HPE, although these are purely unilateral measures, and the reaction of those vendors was less than enthusiastic. HPE crankily suggested that their customers who wanted hyper-converged should consider their recently-acquired SimpliVity platform instead.

The IBM deal is rather different than Dell and Lenovo, however, because right from the start it is aimed at the Global 200 segment of the market.

“In terms of texture and structure, this relationship is in the same vein as Dell and Lenovo,” said Raja Mukhopadhyay, VP,  Product Management at Nutanix. “In terms of the customers we are going after, there is a difference, although the Dell XC [originally intended to be sold into the mid-market] has been getting a lot of Global 2000 customers.”

The cachet of IBM puts this deal on another plane, however.

“What excites us here is that more than any other technology vendor, IBM has been almost a strategic partner to many customers around mission critical applications – more so than some other vendors – with all of the mission-critical workloads and Big Data workloads that run on Power Systems,” Mukhopadhyay said. “These now suddenly become open to the new data centre architectures.”

The new initiative will be directed at the next-generation of cognitive workloads, including Big Data, machine learning and AI, that are such a key public-facing part of IBM’s strategy. This includes the full realm of mission-critical workloads, such as databases, large scale data warehouses, web infrastructure, and mainstream enterprise apps, and cloud-native workloads, including full stack open source middleware and enterprise databases and containers.

“Customers have always had many apps on non-Power platforms, but this relationship will allow their customers to leverage power to cover the whole gamut,” Mukhopadhyay said. “For Nutanix, it extends the reach of Enterprise Cloud to a new series of applications. For IBM, they have wanted customers to be able to leverage outcomes with a simple differentiated infrastructure that lets their customers do more. They saw how our technology replatformed the data centre with unprecedented levels of agility and simplicity, and they wanted to bring that to their customers.”

IBM, like Dell, and unlike Lenovo, has legacy platforms that could be affected by the Nutanix relationship, and Mukhopadhyay suggested this is one of the reasons why the IBM-Nutanix relationship took a while to become reality.

“This is why some of these things take time,” he said. “We know that it will be a journey, but both we and IBM understand the market forces here. It has also become clear in the last year, that the next  re-platforming of the data centre would be true hyper convergence, in the same way it became clear a decade ago that virtualization was that future then. These market forces are the ultimate barometer of what the reality in any marketplace is, and both Nutanix and IBM are committed to this journey.”

While Nutanix and IBM are working closely, and Mukhopadhyay said there are a million details being attended to in order to get these ready on the operational side, specific timelines, models and supported server configurations will not be announced until the products become available.

“They will, however, be sold exclusively through IBM’s traditional go-to-market routes, including channels,” he stated.