The Xi IoT offering is the first fruits of Project Sherlock, the Internet of Things initiative that Nutanix unveiled this spring at their .NEXT event.
Today, at their .NEXT EMEA event in London, Nutanix is announcing the general availability of Xi Cloud Services, a new suite of five cloud offerings. They are the Xi Leap cloud-based disaster recovery service, Xi Frame, a desktop-as-a-service offering with role-based access control, Xi Epoch, a multi-cloud monitoring solution with a Google Maps-like view of applications to illustrate performance bottlenecks and availability issues, Xi Beam, a multi-cloud cost optimization and governance solution, and Xi IoT, an intelligent edge computing platform that performs real-time processing of sensor and device data pipelines, and moves intelligently filtered data back to a cloud platform.
Nutanix is terming this announcement of Xi a reintroduction. In part, that’s because Xi was originally introduced at Nutanix .NEXT in May 2017 – 18 months ago – but took over a year to get anything to market, so some folks’ memories may be hazy. It’s also because the concept of Xi has expanded somewhat since that original inception. While the DR service that became Leap was preannounced at that time, the other potential services Nutanix discussed publicly then involved OEM and third-party services from other vendors, not ones developed in-house by Nutanix.
“We have expanded the number of services and the role that cloud services provide,” said Greg Smith, Nutanix’s Vice President of Product and Technical Marketing. “After that initial introduction, we saw that our 10,000 customers are in various stages of cloud transformation. Some are using us to modernize their data centre. Others are extending that into multiple clouds. In spending a lot of time with customers, we determined that we had to expand that set of services. Xi now represents a full suite, all now generally available and all focused on helping customers manage multiple cloud deployments.”
Leap was announced back in 2017 as the first Xi service.
“The next step for many of our customers has been to provide the ability to protect data if they have a data centre outage,” Smith said. “They told us they wanted a built-in native DR solution that they can get up and running quickly as a core service. With Xi Leap, every Nutanix customer can get DR quickly without additional third-party products, so that they can protect 100 per cent of their applications.” Leap is managed through Nutanix Prism.
“We committed earlier in the calendar year to make Leap available in the summer, and we did that,” Smith said. “Those early customers have been delighted.” As a Xi subscription service, it is now available as a cloud DR target.
The Xi IoT service was foreshadowed at this year’s spring .NEXT event, although in this case, it is actually coming to market earlier than was suggested at .NEXT. At that event, Satyam Vaghani, VP and GM of the newly announced IoT Division, laid out the company’s IoT strategy around edge computing, and described it as a five to seven year long-term project involving the creation of a middleware layer to manage all aspects of the edge. The first elements of that project have now arrived, however.
“Xi IoT is the realization of Project Sherlock,” Smith said. “Our ambitions with Edge and the IoT are a multi-year journey, but what’s nice is that we have customers that are in production today with this tech – although not public ones. This is our solution for moving computing to the edge so decisions can be made closer to the point of business, but still integrated into a larger cloud fabric.”-
“We are seeing a lot of interest in the IoT service from the larger enterprises in the Global 2000, particularly in the manufacturing and retail and smart cities segments,” said Rohit Goyal, Principal Product Marketing Manager for IoT and AI. “We have typically worked with IT people. Here, we work with a company’s Chief Digital Officer. We have seen traction with customers where they introduce us to the product line folks whose businesses are impacted.”
The new nature of the market and the buyer for Nutanix means that the IoT sales cycle will be relatively long.
“Part of it is getting in front of these Chief Digital Officers,” Goyal said. “There is interest in it, but it will take time. Our global SI partners will be very important in getting projects like this off the ground, because of their experience in leveraging things like visual analytics, and handling it at scale.”
On the manufacturing side, Goyal said that the market includes new use cases as well as existing ones.
“Developers at these manufacturers want to build machine learning models and are wondering how to apply it at the edge,” he stated. “They need to know how to use visual analytics to do this, sending it to our platform to analyze it in real time. Visual analytics opens up a new set of opportunities in retail and manufacturing, because the cameras enable new ways of interacting with customers, although we do work with existing manufacturing equipment as well. On the retail side, there are new ways to leverage visual analytics, applying containerized application through APIs to our platforms.”
Nutanix Xi Cloud Services are available now. Nutanix Leap is available to customers today in East and West availability zones in the United States and Canada. Additional availability zones are expected to be available in the UK in calendar Q1 2019.