Nutanix CEO skewers box-based hyperconvergence rivals

Dheeraj Pandey says only Nutanix, VMware offer full convergence stack; labels Simplivity positioning ‘smoke and mirrors’, ‘baloney.’

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Your perspective is that it’s difficult for them to integrate their products, whether it’s the converged offering versus the hyperconverged offering?

Yes. It’s not one operating system running in all of them that basically does everything across different kinds of hardware units. At the end of the day there’s no need to actually have different boxes on different hardware.

Nutanix vs. Simplivity

I also asked Doron Kempel, CEO at Simplivity, to contrast their approach and yours and there’s a high-level aspect to this question and a more detailed aspect. At the higher level, he described Nutanix as part of what he called the second phase of convergence, which is “great for VDI, tier 2, tier 3 applications” and he claims that Simplivity represents the third phase of converged, which is more enterprise focused, more critical-application focused. What’s your reaction to that?

At a high level I have a lot of respect for VMware, but I believe that Simplivity is a smoke and mirrors company. We already are seeing enough of their smoke and mirrors come out in the last six, nine, 12 months. They’ve fired a lot of people and the company is dwindling. It was really built on the strength of an FPGA card. This whole thing that it took 43 months to build this company and so on, it’s just baloney. It’s like total BS actually. I’ve not talked about it in the past but they are pretty good at being in the wake of transformations.

VMware and Nutanix are actually causing enough of a wake with some of these smaller companies who actually come and say we are actually this and we can do that with 3.0 versus 2.0. The real 3.0 is the public cloud. There is no such thing as 3.0 in hardware and on-prem. The true north of Nutanix and VMware and anyone on-premise is, can you stitch these things together, the public and the private clouds? Simplivity - I don’t even consider them to be a meaningful player in the coming 12 to 18 months. They will pretty much crater under their own weight around the false promises and expectations they have actually set forth in front of their customers.

Doron mentioned three specific areas of advantage that I would love your reaction to as well. Number one is backup data protection. When you introduce Simplivity you do not need backup, which is a significant cost center, and you do need that with Nutanix.

Yeah, if you look at an SMB company that probably doesn’t need a separate tool. Most companies need a pane of glass to back up physical servers and physical Oracle and physical SAP and they like to use the same tool to do everything in their ecosystem, their environment. If you go and talk to a Global 2000 customer, there’s a reason why they use Commvault, Veritas and so on. Go and tell them: Look, there’s a niche tool to do backups just for hyperconverge itself.

Our strategy is to figure out how to build this for these customers as opposed to saying we’ll build the tool for the SMB or the local environment itself. The backup workflow runs just fine as Simplivity but it cannot solve the problem for the Global 2000. In fact, even the Global 5000, there’s a reason why people use Veritas and Commvault and so on. One reason that we can actually build something that takes care of Simplivity’s box is a pretty niche argument to say that we have taken care of one big spend in IT itself.

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The second aspect he said was that nobody does data efficiency the way Simplivity does. The whole data management capability and this is a quote, “is on a different cloud with Simplivity and we eliminate the need for any other data efficiency devices.”

If you go back through the history of Simplivity, they built their card over three years between 2008 and 2011 or something and then they came back and realized that dedupe is now a check box. Everybody has it. They had to really wrap this hyperconverged thing on top of their card. I would say it’s facetious because they’re adding things like thin provisioning and things like snapshot and clone capacity optimization. These are things that are table stakes. It is actually unethical to talk about these things when everybody else does it. So we don’t talk about the fact that snapshots and clones and thin provisions have been around for more than a decade.

Can you do something that is a global distributed algorithm? Can you run this on 300 nodes where data is sitting on one node? Can you deduplicate it with the data sitting on the 300 nodes in the same cluster? And the word cluster is very important. They use the word federation to basically play with the minds of the simplified IT admin and they use the word federation very different from clusters. You can have a federation of 50 nodes but you cannot do vMotion across them. They’re putting smoke and mirrors on to say that they are the same as Nutanix and VMware. Nutanix and VMware are the only two pieces of software that have big clusters and distributed systems that can run on hundreds of nodes. Therefore, things like deduplication, compression, capacity optimization run on these large systems as opposed to running on pairs of two nodes which is what Simplivity’s architecture is all about.

Finally, number three, he mentioned is the ability to manage all of your remote sites. “We allow them to manage everything remotely very efficiently,” which I think is a dig at your management tools. What is your reaction to that?

Very few companies are actually trying to build a management plane, a pane of glass that is built ground-up. We started investing in this seven years ago when we started this company and said design is the core of the next-generation infrastructure. Now companies like Cisco and others and even HP for that matter, they’re trying to figure out how to build independent of vCenter for their own hyperconverged products. I think touching us on either issue is very, very hard. The only company that does a better job than us is probably Amazon with the public cloud.

Cisco & Dell

Shifting gears, Cisco doesn’t seem to have much love for Nutanix these days. I wonder if you could talk about what you think of that company’s ACI strategy and their overall approach to the HCI market.

Nobody wants to see another VMware grow up. It takes the value of the hardware into pure software, which is happening as we speak. More and more automation and programmability and analytics and machine learning and all sorts of things are happening in software itself. At the end of the day, Cisco would like to have a strategy that keeps them independent and not dependent on another software company and therefore they have to chart their own course when it comes to this new infrastructure stack.

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