Monday, July 24, 2017

Nutanix takes a pass at the public cloud, expanding its market potential

Nutanix, the Silicon Valley-based networking startup famous for its Hyperconverged, enterprise cloud platforms, has just entered into a strategic partnership with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Nutanix has grown rapidly from its founding in 2009 to expected FY 2017 revenues of over $540 million by offering a single OS for integrating compute, storage and network stacks for scale-out applications. The Nutanix solution makes it easy for enterprises to quickly rollout the server/storage/networking needed for a private cloud. The new GCP alliance marks a broadening of the company's focus to include hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are buzz words being used by analysts, vendors, service providers and journalists alike. Everyone seems to be aboard even if it raises security concerns about network perimeters. Gary Gauba, chief enterprise relationship officer and president, advanced solutions group, CenturyLink's IT and Managed Services business unit, has commented, 'I see the next decade as the ‘decade of coexistence’ where there will be a shift of enterprise workloads spread across both traditional environments and public/private multi-clouds'.

In practical terms, Nutanix will now support a single control plane for managing applications between GCP and Nutanix cloud environments. Nutanix says that traditional and cloud-native applications can be provisioned into GCP or Nutanix cloud environments with a single click, and migrated between the two cloud environments seamlessly. Nutanix customers will also be able to natively extend their data centre environments into GCP, enabling 'lift-and-shift' operations between private and public clouds. For example, enterprises could leverage a Xi Cloud services disaster recovery running in GCP, and then run BigQuery analytics against the full application data set without expensive, repetitive data migration operations. The Nutanix hybrid cloud vision will also bring support for Kubernetes for container-based deployments.

In addition, Google and Nutanix have agreed to collaborate on Internet of Things (IoT) use-cases. The idea is to position Nutanix as an 'intelligent edge' for GCP-based IoT applications running Google's TensorFlow silicon for edge processing, while training machine learning models and running analytics on the processed metadata in GCP. The companies showed a prototype at the Nutanix NEXT conference held this week in Washington DC.

Nutanix hybrid cloud could be extended to Azure or AWS

Nutanix said its broadened strategy could also enable its Enterprise Cloud Software to be run throughout multi-cloud deployments, including on-premises with platforms from IBM, Dell EMC, Lenovo, Cisco and HPE in the cloud via AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Azure, or natively with Nutanix Xi Cloud Services.

The Nutanix enterprise cloud platform is being augmented with something called Nutanix Calm, which abstracts application environments from the underlying infrastructure and recommends the right cloud for the right workload. The idea is to provide a marketplace of application deployment blueprints and corresponding cloud services.

The company is also introducing Nutanix Xi Cloud Services, which will let customers provision and consume Nutanix infrastructure on demand. Nutanix said this can be set-up within minutes, and that it is working with strategic cloud providers internationally (names not disclosed). The service would need to meet the data provenance requirements of various countries and could be especially useful as a disaster recovery option for Nutanix on-premises customers.

Signs of progress at Nutanix

For its most recently completed third quarter of fiscal 2017, ended April 30, Nutanix reported total revenue of $191.8 million, up 67% year-over-year, with billings amounting to $234.1 million, growing 47% year on year. This puts Nutanix on an annual run rate that will soon reach the $1 billion mark. For Q3, Nutanix posted a GAAP net loss of $112.0 million, compared to a net loss of $46.8 million in Q3 fiscal 2016. This amounted to a GAAP net loss per share of 78c, compared to a net loss per share of 39c in Q3 fiscal 2016. It had $350.3 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand.

Nutanix ended the third quarter of fiscal 2017 with 6,172 end-customers, adding approximately 790 new end-customers during the quarter. Third quarter customer wins included Caterpillar, KYOCERA Communication Systems, MobileIron, SAIC Volkswagen, Société Générale and Sprint. In addition, Nutanix states it has penetrated 521 of the Global 2000 enterprises, has 269 customers with lifetime bookings of $1-3 million, 38% of bookings come from international customers and 71% of revenues come from repeat customers, and gross margin of 58.4%. Nutanix calculates that it has $463 million in deferred revenue potential.

Currently, Nutanix has about 2,672 employees, up from 1,798 a year ago, with around 810 in R&D.

New partnerships with IBM, HPE and Cisco widens reach on x86 servers

Nutanix has had an OEM relationship with Dell since 2014, and this week, Nutanix and Dell EMC confirmed an expansion of their collaboration. In 2015, Nutanix formed an OEM partnership with Lenovo. In May 2017, Nutanix and IBM announced a multi-year initiative to combine Nutanix's Enterprise Cloud Platform software with IBM Power Systems as a turnkey hyper-converged solution for critical workloads in large enterprises. The partnership aims to deliver a full-stack combination with built-in AHV virtualisation that is targeted at cognitive workloads, including big data, machine learning and AI. The promise is a public cloud-like experience for customers of IBM Power-based systems.

Also in May 2017, Nutanix announced that its Enterprise Cloud Platform software will be available as a term-based license on Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) ProLiant rack mount servers and Cisco UCS B-series blade servers, adding to previously announced support for the Cisco UCS C-series platform.

With these deals, the Nutanix stack is now available directly from the company on an x86 appliance, or on platforms from four of the leading server vendors, which collectively account for over 50% of the x86 server business. And with the new Google Cloud Platform (GCP) partnership and the launch of its own cloud services, Nutanix now has a very broad avenue to market.