Nutanix Now – Recap of our First Partner Conference

“The most exciting aspect about Nutanix has to be their passion and enthusiasm. Their approach is refreshing, compelling and as an organization, they’re willing to listen.”            Kevin Kaiser – CDW

After representing six different channel partner businesses at countless partner conferences during my 25 years in the channel, it was a bit surreal being on the other side of the fence at our first partner conference last week. But it was great fun to see the ubiquitous excitement and enthusiasm among our partners for the web-scale revolution Nutanix is bringing to the enterprise datacenter.

Collaboration

“The energy from the Nutanix team was contagious and exciting as they grow a company with a truly game changing technology.”    Kent Christensen – Datalink

Nutanix Now was held at the Denver Grand Hyatt. Attendees came from across North America, representing partner organizations ranging in size from small boutique firms to the largest players on the planet. The format consisted of a cocktail party the first night followed by a day of presentations and panels including both business and technical break-out sessions. An Awards Dinner was held that night, while our inaugural Partner Advisory Council took place the next morning.

While the conference was quite elaborate for a company as young as Nutanix, it was still small enough to engender a sense of intimacy. Both partner and Nutanix attendees networked extensively and freely shared ideas. This was particularly evident at the Partner Advisory Council where the 12 PAC members requested the membership list be distributed in order for them to stay in contact with each other.

Transparency

“The openness and humility of the entire Nutanix organization was very apparent throughout the conference, especially in their willingness to accept feedback on their partner programs and to incorporate that feedback into shaping the programs going forward.”      Tim Lewis – Itex

We were extremely pleased with the feedback we received from the attendees – even before we surprised them with a GoPro as a parting gift.

One of Nutanix’s guiding principles is transparency, and the content and dialogue of the conference supported this philosophy. We heard many partners comment on how refreshing and different this approach is from that of the traditional datacenter incumbents. They also gave positive feedback regarding the approachability of Nutanix executives.

The attendees appreciated the one day format that packed in lots of information, but which was kept interesting by passionate presenters. Partners told us that Nutanix Now was “raw and real” vs. “staged and canned” which is how they described most other similar partner events. Several attendees told us it was the best partner conference they’d ever attended.

Gates

 

Going All In

“Attending Nutanix Now, I got to see a company with visionary leadership, a mature approach to the channel, and strong credibility in an area of cutting-edge technology.”    Matt Wagner – Logicalis

The theme of the event was “Now”. Now is the time to seize the moment, to make the decision, to go all in. A keynote by former Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates (see the CRN article coverage) punctuated the importance of having conviction in one’s decisions even when they differ from multiple expert opinions. Whether launching down a huge ski slope, jumping out of a plane or going all in with Nutanix – there is the point at which a decision and commitment must be made. The GoPro gift symbolized the spirit of capturing the moment.

Other event highlights included a product roadmap of upcoming Nutanix technologies, the launching of Nutanix services for partners, unveiling of a very simple ROI app for partner reps (CRN coverage), a presentation on how Nutanix partners can make money in the cloud, and case studies and videos of Nutanix partners who have gone “all in”.

A panel composed of Nutanix’s sales leaders showcased how integrated our Go-to-Market plans are between our sales reps and channel partners. And because Nutanix sells 100% through the channel, the typical concerns about direct sales were absent from both the Conference and the subsequent PAC meeting.

Partner Awards

I found Nutanix Now to be an extremely relevant, informative, and productive conference.  Additionally the speakers that presented the material were incredibly talented SMEs and provided ample time at the end of each session for audience participation and open discussion.   Nutanix is a positively disruptive solution!!”                Deborah Bannworth –Sirius Computer Solutions

At the Awards dinner following the Wednesday meetings, five partner organizations and two individuals received special recognition:

Outstanding Momentum                               Sirius Computer Solutions

Outstanding Innovation                                Logicalis

Partner of the Year – Commercial                  CDW

Partner of the Year – Fed                              DH Technologies

Partner of the Year – Canada                        Zycom Technology

“NVP” – Sales                                               Larry Gross of TIG

“NVP” – Technical                                         Steve Dowling of Sirius Computer Solutions

Several other partners including TIG, Meridian IT, CDWG, Progressive Communications and NovaTech, to name just a few, told us that they intended to be up on stage at next year’s conference.

Uncertainty Means Opportunity

“We severely underestimated the value of Nutanix Now. I wish more of our sales team were at the event. The value of the Nutanix roadmap over the next 6-8 months will be as game-changing as the last 18 months. I’m looking forward to the public announcement on the roadmap so we can see how the traditional datacenter infrastructure vendors react.”   Devin Henderson – DH Technologies

I used to attend Novell Platinum Partner conferences years ago where CEO Ray Noorda, besides coining the term ‘coopetion’, used to say, “In mystery, there’s margin.” I think that today a more appropriate message might be, “uncertainty means opportunity”. Many CIOs are confused about what type of cloud strategy to embrace, where their various virtual workloads should reside, and how to best manage their increasingly hybrid environments. Nutanix provides partners with a platform for addressing these concerns, and by so doing enhancing their own long-term success.

While naturally I’m quite biased, I consider our first channel conference a resounding success. Beyond the glowing feedback, there was a level of energy that seemed almost palpable. Of course, in typical Nutanix fashion, our Senior Director of Channel Marketing Michele, Taylor-Smith, rounded up all of the Nutanix Now organizers and participants for a post mortem the day after the event to see how we can improve. Our next Conference is in Marbella, Spain on May 20 and 21st followed by another one in Phuket, Thailand on June 24 – 26.

The Resonating “Now” Theme

“I’ve had the privilege of serving on the initial PACs for disruptive IT manufacturers such as Citrix, and VMware. I believe Nutanix is in that same class. We see Nutanix as a true game-changer in the datacenter and a company that is two plus years ahead of the market on execution with no plans to slow up on delivering their future vision.”                Jim Steinlage – Choice Solutions, LLC

I’ve previously written a couple of blog posts in a series on Nutanix transformation. Nutanix is not only increasingly transforming datacenters across the globes, but also partner businesses. More posts in the series are coming.

Our conference was great opportunity for me to hear about the impact of Nutanix web-scale on partner businesses in person. Nutanix provides partners with the phenomenal and rare opportunity to disrupt the $20B – $40B server and storage market. Nutanix enables them to stand far apart from the crowd while bringing their customers a clearly superior solution.

The partners that are capitalizing on this opportunity are seeing higher sales, more margin, more opportunities and are tending to have a lot of fun in the process. An increasing number of our partners are catching the same passion that is so pervasive among Nutanix employees. Their faith in, and commitment to, Nutanix is an essential part of our success in the market and of our status as the fastest-growing infrastructure company of the past three decades. Now is the time to kick our growth into the next gear and our partners recognize the time to go all-in with Nutanix is Now.

“Nutanix Summit was a fantastic event. It is hard to believe that was Nutanix’s first summit – everything was done extremely well.  It really showcased Nutanix’s position today, and how the company plans to maintain that lead on the competition.  We also gained a solid understanding of your culture.”     Jennifer Keating – CDWG

“The Nutanix Now conference was a great collaborative experience; I left feeling valued. Having access and building one-on-one relationships with the senior executives at Nutanix helped to strengthen our partnership. The ideas shared were great and will help my organization thrive in 3rd Platform with Nutanix as a strategic partner in VDI and Private Cloud infrastructure.”      Terry Buchanan – Zycom Technology

“Seeing other partners also successfully transforming their businesses with Nutanix helped get the competitive juices flowing.  And we’re elevating our overall SDDC/Web-scale messaging.”      Linda Brock –Progressive Communications

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