VMware announced one of the industry’s worst kept secrets, EVO: RAIL (formerly Project Marvin), a few days ago at VMworld. Many partners have been asking my opinion of the solution – and are sometimes surprised to hear my enthusiasm. Here’s why I think EVO: RAIL is good for the industry, and good for Nutanix partners:
Validation: With its announcement of EVO: RAIL, VMware has eliminated any doubt that software-defined datacenters will be built with hyper-converged appliances that integrate storage and compute resources. The unveiling of EVO Rail, supported by multiple server hardware vendors, resoundingly validates Nutanix’s vision that datacenters will be based on distributed software running on clusters of x86 servers – eliminating the need for traditional storage solutions, which are expensive, complex and slow today’s business.
“Nutanix is a valuable partner. Their technology has enabled Toyota to further simplify its datacenter infrastructure, improve performance and lower costs. We are discovering transformative benefits through web-scale infrastructure as our Nutanix footprint continues to grow. We look forward to expanding the platform to new workloads in the future.”
–Ned Curic, CTO, Toyota Motor Sales, USA
The multi-billion dollar infrastructure incumbents are firmly entrenched in the datacenter. They have a massive base of customers and installed products. Datacenters already utilize management and governance processes that make it difficult for customers to migrate to a new platform. The incumbents also work through a very established channel partner network that further cements customer loyalty. EVO: RAIL is going to make it easier for Nutanix partners to disrupt the status quo. And by bringing a superior architecture to their customers’ attention, they will build increased loyalty and trust.
Competition: Nutanix recently announced a $200M run rate. While impressive for a company selling less than three years, it is a long way from Nutanix’s goal of becoming a leader in the $50B server and storage market. Meeting this lofty objective requires that hyper-converged architectures become the standard for virtualized datacenters. This will require competition to grow the market and generate broad customer demand. And, there is no better competitor than the industry’s dominant virtualization company – VMware. The Baird Equity Research report from last week confirms Nutanix as the leader in the hyper-converged category with a 50% market share. While it predated the EVO: RAIL announcement by a few days, it named VMware VSAN as, “the most notable competitor given VMware’s market reach.” Nutanix partners can now offer customers two viable alternatives to the traditional 3-tier datacenter infrastructure.
Maturity: While both Nutanix and EVO: Rail provide a software-defined storage solution based on x86 servers Nutanix has five-year head start, yielding a solution that is more mature and feature rich. Nutanix now supports core enterprise applications (e.g. Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, etc.) up to a massive scale. EVO Rail, on the other hand, is powered by VMware Virtual SAN, which is currently qualified for tier 2 and tier 3 workloads, along with smaller scale VDI installations. The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform provides the following unique functionality:
- Complete enterprise feature set, including native snapshots, clones, compression, de-duplication, data locality and more
- Distributed Web-scale architecture providing predictability, scalability and business agility
- A range of proven appliances that offer different ratios of compute and storage resources to support the widest range of virtual workloads
Support: It takes tremendous effort to make complex solutions simple. This is also the case with hyper-converged appliances. Nutanix takes extraordinary measures to ensure not only a beautifully simple management interface, but also stability and reliability – backed by award-winning industry-leading support. As an example, Nutanix intentionally announced the strategic relationship with Dell months in advance of shipping the XC Web-Scale Converged Appliance. Nutanix is investing the engineering resources required to ensure that Dell server hardware is optimally configured to drive the best performance and reliability when running Nutanix software. The quality of the joint solution will meet the same high standards of the Nutanix branded appliances. VMware, unfortunately, does not have this same luxury with EVO: RAIL. They will be dependent upon the quality testing and support of the various hardware manufacturers. VMware may also be challenged to ensure version compatibility as each EVO: Rail partner will have its own virtual machine. The most important questions that EVO: Rail customers and partners must ask: Will my hardware partners really be able to support the VMware software stack on their own? Why am I calling a server vendor to get help with my hypervisor and storage software?
Flexibility: Lastly, appliances are good – but they shouldn’t restrict choice. VMware vSphere has earned its dominant position in the virtualization industry. Nevertheless, Hyper-V continues to gain significant ground as enterprise customers demand flexibility. Nutanix understands this, which is why we’ve engineered our solution to be hypervisor agnostic. We deliver feature parity across vSphere, Hyper-V and KVM – protecting customer freedom to choose the right technology for their environment.
Co-opetition: While there will be some competitive overlap in the hyper-converged market, Nutanix and VMware will continue to partner in other strategic use cases, including end user computing (EUC), vSphere support, vCAC on Nutanix, and other areas. Channel partners can further grow their businesses by helping their customers navigate the complexities of migrating existing environments to a Web-scale infrastructure. In the process, they can assist their customers in strategizing, designing and implementing both best practices and expanded use cases.
See Also: Nutanix Raises $140M Series E from Public Market Investors at Over $2B Valuation. 08/27/2014. Nutanix Press Release.
EVO RAIL: Status Quo for Nutanix. 08/26/2014. Dwayne Lessner. IT Blood Pressure.
Nutanix Blows Away Industry Net Promoter Scores. 04/28/2014. Steve Kaplan. Nutanix