Nutanix has made data centre infrastructures invisible in recent years with its platform. It can manage all infrastructure from one Nutanix portal. The next step is to make the cloud invisible in the coming years. At least, that’s what the CEO of Nutanix, Rajiv Ramaswami, told us in an exclusive interview with Techzine.
As far as Nutanix is concerned, the time with large IT infrastructure teams is behind us. Managing your data centre and cloud environments shouldn’t take hundreds of hours a month. Infrastructure technology has innovated a lot in the last ten years. You can automate and take a lot of things out of the hands of the system administrator. Most Nutanix customers have their own data centre with lots of infrastructure, but they don’t see it anymore. The Nutanix platform covers all the physical hardware and takes most of the work off their hands. The infrastructure is made invisible, as Nutanix calls it.
Ramaswami is a new CEO
During our interview with Ramaswami, we look mostly ahead. Founder and former CEO Dheeraj Pandey, has left Nutanix. In his place came Ramaswami. A rather remarkable move. Ramaswami has had a long career at VMware, Nutanix’s biggest competitor. VMware threatened Nutanix to go to court over the transfer, but in the end, both companies came to an undisclosed understanding.
We asked Ramaswami about his plans, as he has some pretty big shoes to fill. Ramaswami said Pandey has been hugely important to Nutanix and has delivered outstanding results. “Pandey has made infrastructure invisible. In the next three years, we will make the cloud invisible.”
Product portfolio simplified
Ramaswami also reveals that some major strategic decisions have been taken to grow Nutanix further. For example, the product portfolio has become much more straightforward. First, Nutanix offered about 15 products, and now, there are only five. It makes the portfolio easier to understand. However, it is not the case that Nutanix has removed ten products. Many things sold as stand-alone products are now part of a larger product offering, or solutions have been integrated.
Ramaswami says he values simplicity and focus. The portfolio must be easy to understand. In addition, he wants more focus, which means that Nutanix no longer does or wants to do everything itself. Collaboration with other companies is vital.
Nutanix wants to add more cloud partners soon
Thanks to a partnership with AWS, Nutanix clusters can be deployed very quickly in AWS. The customer buys a Nutanix licence but can use his own AWS customer account to deploy and pay for the infrastructure. Azure should follow soon, followed by several other major cloud providers.
With all these new partnerships with different cloud providers, Nutanix is winding down its own data centre operations. Ramaswami says that the hyperscalers are much better at that. They collectively have far more data centres than Nutanix can ever offer. Ramaswami did not want to say if Nutanix will shut down its own data centres in the end, but we would not rule it out. Nutanix states that they will not expand their own data centres.
Disaster recovery from the cloud
Nutanix currently offers customers the possibility to do disaster recovery from a Nutanix owned data centre. Nutanix wants to convert this service to a hyperscaler. Disaster Recovery services will soon be offered from a cloud provider data centre. It is not yet entirely clear whether Nutanix will opt for a single hyperscaler or whether it will let the customer choose between different hyperscalers. What is clear is that this service will disappear from the Nutanix data centres.
Kubernetes now via Red Hat OpenShift
Nutanix Karbon Platform Services, the Kubernetes management platform from Nutanix is no longer being developed. Nutanix does still offer a Kubernetes run-time, Karbon, within their cloud platform, but it also partnered with Red Hat and now supports Red Hat OpenShift on top of the Nutanix platform. OpenShift is more or less the industry standard today for Kubernetes environments in enterprise IT. For development workloads or small applications, customers can use the Kubernetes run-time within Nutanix. For important production workloads and especially mission-critical workloads OpenShift is the better choice.
Kubernetes is hugely popular, and lots of companies have jumped on and off the “orchestration train”, but Kubernetes is not easy. Kubernetes is a profession in its own right, it is not something you can just do on the side. It is a complex matter to do container orchestration properly. Which explains Nutanix’s choice for Red Hat. “By partnering with Red Hat, we offer our customers much more value. The support for OpenShift now allows companies to run mission-critical container workloads on top of Nutanix,” Ramaswami said.
More focus on Nutanix Era, e.g. for multi-cloud databases
Saying goodbye to services so you can focus more. Nutanix dares to make decisions and discontinue certain developments or activities. There should be more focus on the things that remain. An expanded cloud offering is one of those focus points, Nutanix Era is another.
Nutanix Era is a database optimisation solution. It allows you to easily run database workloads on Nutanix. In addition, it takes configuration and patch management out of your hands. Ramaswami wants to improve Era even further, he wants Nutanix to deploy multicloud databases, where one database is available in multiple clouds. A major problem with this idea is latency. You don’t want databases to run out of sync. Ramaswami says that Era can solve that.
In addition, Ramaswami sees a lot of traction among customers for Nutanix Era because the number of databases is only increasing. Companies are increasingly opting for microservices. Many of these microservices use databases to store data. The number of different types of databases used by microservices seems to keep growing. However, for an IT department, it means that all those databases have to be maintained. With Nutanix Era, this can be done much easier.
Nutanix opts for partner security rather than its own dedicated security solutions
In this day and age, we can’t ignore security. We asked Ramaswami about his plans for security solutions. Here too, Ramaswami seems to see the necessary pitfalls. Security is extremely complex, which is why Nutanix opts for a partner strategy. Nutanix does offer some security features like encryption, ransomware protection and micro-segmentation. For more advanced security solutions they look at partners.
He says that they work a lot with Palo Alto Networks, for example, and that they also offer a lot of open APIs for security vendors to tap into. Nutanix does not want to develop a comprehensive security solution on its own.
The biggest security feature Nutanix offers is micro segmentation with Flow, which is built into the core of the platform and manages the infrastructure underneath. With micro-segmentation, administrators can control which applications, VM’s or containers can talk to each other.
However, Nutanix does keep its eyes open for security solutions that it can easily realise. Like the built-in ransomware protection. “if you manage the data on your platform, ransomware protection is easy to realise. Then there is data lens, which allows customers to gain more insight into the data stored on the platform.”
Will Nutanix make more acquisitions?
Ramaswami comes from VMware, a company that makes huge acquisitions every year to expand its portfolio. He is very familiar with that. So we wondered if Nutanix will now do more acquisitions and if he aspires to that style of business. Ramaswami says he will never rule out Nutanix doing an acquisition. It has happened in the past. The most important message right now is to focus. If you start making acquisitions, the focus shifts, and Nutanix does not need that right now.
It’s clear that there is a strategy shift at Nutanix under the new CEO. The product portfolio has been reduced so that it is easier to understand. Things that have little future or that other parties are much better at, the company quickly says goodbye to. Nutanix is working hard to expand its cloud partners. Within three years, it will be able to make not only the on-premises infrastructure but also the cloud infrastructure invisible. This will only be possible with enough partners. All workloads must ultimately be easy to manage from the Nutanix portal. Regardless of which hardware, cloud or hypervisor it runs on.