Nutanix’s Canadian country manager Robert Yelenich talked with ChannelBuzz at .NEXT and provided an update on the company’s Canadian business, and the progress of their channel in selling and deploying Nutanix’s cloud offerings beyond the HCI foundation.
NEW ORLEANS – The mood at the Nutanix .NEXT event here this week was one of considerable excitement, reflecting optimism by the company’s employees, customers and partners about their progress, and their potential on the road ahead. That confidence applies with full force in Canada as well, said Robert Yelenich, Nutanix’s Country Manager for Canada.
“The progression of business in Canada continues to be full steam forward,” Yelenich said. “We are continuing to onboard new customers and new logos, and expand our presence in all verticals from the public sector and federal government down to financial services. We have recently had some good work in the mining sector. We always had customers there, but have added quite a few more around gold, and around nickel mining. We have quite a buzz in Calgary right now, are meeting with CIOs there, and are getting calls.”
Nutanix as a company has evolved from its early days as a hyperconverged infrastructure pioneer to now treating the HCI as a foundational base, and focusing more on selling the cloud experience on top through their Prism infrastructure management software. Yelenich said that over the past year, partners in Canada have increasingly stepped up on that path as well, to be able to offer the cloud beyond the HCI.
“There are really three stages of Nutanix,” he said. “We were the HCI pioneer, who created the ability to have invisible infrastructure. The second stage was delivering invisible virtualization, and the third is delivering the invisible cloud.”
Yelenich said that when he joined Nutanix a little over two years ago, partners in Canada were still focused on that first stage, consolidating on HCI.
“A lot of the competition is still at that phase, where they are talking memory and hard drive and performance details with customers,” he stated. “We and our partners are now increasingly talking about the cloud experience.”
Yelenich said that this is a significant selling advantage for them over competitors who are still in that first stage.
“We are seeing a lot of traction with CIOs, because they aren’t trying to solve tactical plumbing problems, but are focused on business outcomes, which is something we can address,” he said. “That has evolved quite a bit. I think that the general consensus among customers today is that the immediate future will be a hybrid cloud, and our platform provides them with choices in that environment. One partner just told me that Nutanix is the best platform for a differentiated sale. Partners are always looking to differentiate themselves, and are looking to be able to sell on business outcomes. With us, they can do that.”
Partner enablement – equipping partners with the skills to handle both sales and deployments on their own without the need for Nutanix to provide its own resources to assist – has been a major priority over the last two years. Global channel chief Rodney Foreman has said that globally, that pace has picked up significantly, with 90 per cent of deployments now being done by partners. Yelenich said that Canada has also seen significant improvement here.
“We are continuing to enable our partners and have hired specific people around that,” he said. “In the past, we have often had staff doing double duty around that. We are continuing to hire – not just on sales and engineering side, but on the partner support side, where we just hired an engineering support resource for the channel.”
Nutanix made multiple important new product announcements at the NEXT show. Nutanix Flow rounds off the hyperconverged offering, adding automated application-centric security and networking capabilities to their Acropolis software. Nutanix Beam, a new SaaS service based on Nutanix’s Minjar acquisition lets partners show customers how to reduce costs. Nutanix Era is a new PaaS [Platform-as-a-Service] capability that reduces the time needed to provision a fully-configured database service. One product that is still not out however, is Xi, which will make Nutanix fully available as a service. It was a highlight of .NEXT in Washington D.C. a year ago. Partners told ChannelBuzz that the delay here isn’t a huge deal, that they would rather have a fully baked offering when it does come out. Yelenich said that customers in Canada are wondering where it is, but that it hasn’t been a critical issue.
“Customers have asked about it, and we are now able to tell them that we will have early availability in the summer timeframe, with broader availability later this year,” he said. Some elements of Xi are planned for release a little later, in 2019.