Nutanix launches unique hybrid cloud offering with Xi Cloud Services, Nutanix Calm

The cloud services have the same OS as Nutanix’s on-prem software, which provides major benefits for customers – and significant new opportunities for partners.

WASHINGTON D.C – Nutanix kicked off its 2017 .NEXT Conference here with a dual-pronged strategic announcement. First, they announced Nutanix Xi Cloud Services, a new cloud service. They also announced Nutanix Calm, which will leverage the technology they acquired last year with to build multi-cloud application management and orchestration capabilities into their Prism management software.

“We are making two related and extremely strategic announcements here,” said Greg Smith, Nutanix’s Senior Director of Product Marketing. “They enable Nutanix to take a fresh approach to the hybrid cloud.”

Xi – the X is from Nutanix’s brand and the i is for infinity – is particularly significant because these cloud services can be used throughout the hybrid cloud environment, including Nutanix’s on-prem gear.

“The Xi Cloud Services are based on the same technology stack and tooling that people are using to build their private clouds,” Smith said. “Xi is a major strategic move for Nutanix because to date, customers have consumed Nutanix in their own data centres. Now, because it is the same stack, it is simply an extension of what we are already doing. That makes things much easier for customers.

“It is based on the same enterprise OS software that is running now in more than 6,000 customers’ data centres,” Smith added. “This allows for the seamless migration of workloads from on-prem to cloud services. The applications don’t have to be transformed because they are running on the same technology set.”

Smith emphasized that these cloud services will provide a way to provide the benefits of the cloud, to apps which can’t go there.

“The cloud’s benefits have been unavailable for a lot of legacy applications in the datacentre –

monolithic applications which have been difficult to shift to the cloud,” he said. “Xi Cloud acan be applied to these applications as well. If it runs on Nutanix in the data centre, it runs on Xi Cloud. That’s the benefit of building the cloud services with the same stack.”

The Nutanix cloud services will help customers manage at the application level as well.

“We clearly see today that customers want to manage at the application level,” he said. “They want application-centric management, rather than management at the VM level. Application management aligns with their business. They also want this application-centric management independent of the infrastructure. They want to decouple, and chose where the applications run, and where the data is stored.”

These Cloud Services will be available in a wide variety of form factors. They include OEM relationships with Dell EMC, Lenovo and IBM. They will also be available on Cisco and HPE platforms through both subscriptions and enterprise licensing agreements.

“We are also announcing a partnership with Google where Google will deliver Xi cloud services out of their own data centre,” Smith said.

Nutanix is also announcing its first available Xi Cloud Service, around disaster recovery, although it will not be available until early in 2018. Additional services will be forthcoming shortly after that, Smith said, but are not being announced at this time.

“We started with DR because a lot of companies are challenged to do this, especially in midmarket and parts of the enterprise, and would prefer to get DR as a cloud offering,” Smith said. “It will allow customers to implement a complete DR strategy in a matter of minutes without standing up their own DR site or using other products. They go to Prism, they select the VMs they want protect, their service level, and the availability lone they want to recover out of based on their geo. In a matter of minutes, its all replicated in the Xi cloud – the VMs and data and security policies.”

Nutanix is partnered with many backup and disaster recovery vendors, and Smith emphasized that Nutanix isn’t looking to encroach on their turf.

“Our DR partners provide DR and backup for all the applications running in a customer data centre,” he said. “We provide it just for the Nutanix environment.”

The other half of the announcement, Nutanix Calm, significantly enhances the Prism management software by providing application management and orchestration across different cloud environments. It abstracts application environments from the underlying infrastructure and recommends the right cloud for the right workload while harmonizing cloud operations.

“Calm provides native functionality into our management framework, and is an integral piece of our enterprise cloud strategy,” Smith said. “After we acquired, we chose not to take that acquired product and sell it as a standalone. Instead, we took 9-12 months to integrate it into the Prism management stack. We did not want to provide another management console that would create another silo.”

Smith said that adding Calm to Prism strengthens it significantly.

“It now provides not only infrastructure management but application management and orchestration across different cloud environments,” he said. “Calm’s focus is in managing applications across different cloud environments.”

Nutanix Calm defines applications through blueprints, which can be provisioned, managed and scaled into different cloud environments, and includes an integrated marketplace to share application designs across an organization.

“We capture all the elements of the application in the blueprint,” Smith said. “It embodies all the VMs the containers, the binaries, the networking configurations – everything that defines that application. By abstracting that out from the infrastructure we can manage applications independent of the run-time environment. This lets customers stand up their application into the cloud of their choosing, and decouples the application from the cloud environment.”

Smith explained the strategic synchronity of the two new offerings.

“We now have Xi Cloud in our own data centres, and in partnership with Google,” he said. “For customers that want a choice of other clouds, there’s where Calm enters. Calm lets you pick your clouds.”

Today, Calm can be targeted on-prem and to AWS as targets, and will be expanded very soon to Azure and the Google Cloud.”

Chris Morgan, Nutanix’s Vice President, Americas Channel and Distribution, said that Xi Cloud and Calm open up significant new opportunities for Nutanix channel partners.

“The big cloud providers; channel programs are not great profit centres for partners,” he said. “You basically need to be managing contracts for them or have a lot of professional services around dev/ops to do well. Our channel will be fully compensated around Xi. We think that will make it even more attractive to work with us. Xi also an amazing piece of technology that will be a part of our core product. So partners’ ability to offer a truly differentiated product will be enhanced.”

Morgan said that Calm is great for partners who have developed a dev/ops type of software engagement.

“Partners haven’t seen anything like Calm,” he said. “Partners like Sirius Computer Solutions have told us they are excited about what it means for their professional services development, and will open up that professional services capacity.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS is available now. Nutanix Calm is planned to be generally available by calendar Q4 2017. Nutanix Xi Cloud Services for disaster recovery are planned for early access by calendar Q1 2018.