I've been critical of Nutanix's marketing claim of being a cloud company. In my opinion, Amazon Web Services (AWS) sets the standard for the cloud marketing term. Not that AWS is the pinnacle of cloud capability, but AWS is a starting point for the perception of the cloud in the enterprise.
So far, there's not a traditional enterprise hardware provider that has passed my AWS sniff test. However, via its acquisition of Calm.io, Nutanix has moved a step further to becoming a real cloud company.
Scale-out infrastructure provider
Before the acquisition of Calm.io, now simply called Calm, Nutanix could already lay claim as a leader in the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) market. Nutanix also provided an end-to-end strategy for the software-defined data center (SDDC), albeit immature in some areas.
Via its hardware platform, Nutanix provided the software necessary to deploy and manage a scale out data center. Nutanix's Prism platform provided the API and management interface for storage, virtualization, and limited networking. However, the firm's capabilities focused on the IT infrastructure instead of the application developer. Calm will help provide a path to the application developer.
SEE: What HPE server support means for the future of the Nutanix ecosystem (TechRepublic)
The myth of private cloud
I'm not a strong believer in private cloud. Of course, there are good examples of private cloud throughout the industry. Webscale cloud storage company Dropbox, for example, may prove as one of the largest and most successful private clouds. Building a private cloud offers Dropbox a competitive advantage that doesn't exist in most non-webscale organizations. While many of the same technologies are available, I'd argue the business case doesn't present itself for the investment. That's a discussion for another day. My TechRublic colleague Matt Asay has argued against the logic of private cloud vs. public cloud.
I am, however, a strong believer in the goal of providing interoperability between private data center infrastructure and public cloud, commonly referred to as hybrid IT. By integrating the two and providing a single interface to developers, IT organizations deliver on the promise of the hybrid cloud. The goal is to provide just enough automation to reduce friction in the private data center, while also offering a gateway to public cloud providers.
A successful platform allows for delivery on the promise without the burden of private cloud. For Nutanix customers, Calm aims to provide that point of integration. Nutanix provides service orchestration across Nutanix infrastructure and public cloud, and the company also claims that application and operation teams can seamlessly move applications from private infrastructure to the public cloud. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is the first official partner for Calm.
Nutanix isn't the first company with the vision of integrating the private data center with the public cloud. Dell EMC has long sold their hybrid cloud solution based on VMware vRealize. At HPE Discover 2017 in the US, HPE unveiled NewStack, the HPE vision of public cloud orchestration and private data center automation leveraging the Synergy Composable infrastructure.
Nutanix is following a trend Dell Technologies has at its disposal. Nutanix controls the entire hardware and software stack for the private data center component. Much of the risk and cost of private data center resides in the integration of hardware and software. With Calm, Prism, and the AHV hypervisor, Nutanix provides a single vision for the automated data center. The challenge ahead of Nutanix is whether or not it can break out of the private data center and provide a seamless experience between Prism and public cloud.
- Nutanix launches management stack for multiple clouds (ZDNet)
- Why HPE Discover is the company's last opportunity to tell its story and prove its value (TechRepublic)
- VMware vSphere: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Hyperconverged infrastructure: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Nutanix beefs up automation tools for its converged infrastructure platform (ZDNet)
Keith Townsend is a technology management consultant with more than 15 years of related experience designing, implementing, and managing data center technologies. His areas of expertise include virtualization, networking, and storage solutions for Fortune 500 organizations. He holds a BA in computing and a MS in information technology from DePaul University.