Converged infrastructure startup SimpliVity says it has a great relationship with VMware even though its main rival, Nutanix, was uninvited from VMware's partner conference last month because it's viewed as a competitor.
"Synergy between us and VMware is high," SimpliVity CEO Doron Kempel told CRN in a recent interview. "We cooperate with [VMware] field sales and try to complement them. We signed up for their development programs many years ago, and our relationship is growing."
VMware is set to launch its own storage technology, called VSAN, which clusters storage from server hard drives into a shared storage pool. According to VMware, this makes it easier to provision storage to virtual machines and addresses the cost barriers associated with virtual desktops.
While some partners believe VSAN could cause friction with VMware's storage partners, Kempel told CRN that SimpliVity isn't feeling threatened. "We think it's a wonderful thing," he said of VSAN. "A lot of customers that are going to benefit from VSAN might not need what we offer."
SimpliVity's flagship OmniCube product combines server, storage, networking and virtualization in a single appliance running on industry-standard server hardware. It’s similar to what Nutanix does, and so it's puzzling that VMware would be on good terms with one and not the other. Neither VMware nor Nutanix responded to a request for comment.
The answer, as it often does in the world of enterprise vendors, likely has to do with each vendor's competitive focus, according to partners. Nutanix pitches its product as ideal for virtual desktops, and since VMware is doing the same with VSAN, some partners believe this is why it didn't want Nutanix at its partner conference.
SimpliVity is going after a different segment of the market than Nutanix, and so doesn't pose a threat to VMware at the moment, Jamie Shepard, regional vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-based partner that works with both vendors, told CRN.
"SimpliVity is going after resource-intensive enterprise apps like Oracle, SAP and others," Shepard said.
Don Hanson, president and CTO of Consolidated Computing, an Easton, Conn.-based SimpliVity partner, told CRN that OmniCubes are good for organizations that use VMware for server and desktop virtualization, particularly because they bundle multiple technologies in a single box.
"This is a steal compared to buying servers, storage, replication, data deduplication, backup and WAN acceleration technology separately," Hanson said in an email.
Paul Smitham, president of Enterprise Networking Solutions, a Sacramento, Calif.-based partner, has tested VDI, Exchange and a host of other applications running on lower-cost servers attached to the OmniCubes. "We are getting great performance," he said. "We really like the deduplication capability and how simple it is to set up and use."
Like Nutanix, SimpliVity is all about the channel. Last month, it hired George Hope and Mitch Breen, two longtime EMC channel executives with stellar track records working with partners.
Kempel said hiring people like Breen and Hope is a sign that SimpliVity is committed to working through partners. "It tells you that we are willing to make serious investments and we don't think this party is going to end ," he said.
Converged infrastructure is one of the fastest-growing parts of the IT market, with overall revenue growing 68 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to $1.4 billion, according to December figures from research firm IDC.
PUBLISHED MARCH 6, 2014