Nutanix’ Cisco Alliance Provides ‘Massive’ Partner Opportunity, Channel Exec Goffi Says
“For our partner community, the opportunity really comes from having another platform that they can lean on our solution for,” says Christian Goffi, Nutanix North American channel chief. “We’ve always been about customer choice, and this is another one of those areas. Our partners have become very in-tune with the beauty of our HCI platform and what Nutanix does best. And we are in a very interesting point in time. HCI brings that public cloud agility to the private data center. And now what customers are mostly thinking about is that evolution.”
Nutanix’s recently unveiled global strategic partnership with Cisco Systems is a massive opportunity for channel partners to expand to a completely new set of customers using the hyper-converged platform they are already experts in architecting, Nutanix North American channel chief Christian Goffi (pictured) told CRN.
“The inbound from our partners was immediate, with people saying, ‘I can’t wait to hear more.’ The excitement was through the roof,” he said. “This allows us to think about an entirely new avenue of customers that we don’t have reach to. It’s funny, it was our partner community that immediately saw the excitement. We didn’t have to say anything to them.”
Cisco Systems announced the partnership with Nutanix at the end of August through which the worldwide leader in networking, with 100,000 customers worldwide, will sell Nutanix hyperconverged systems. That was followed by last week’s news that Cisco has issued end-of-life and end-of-sales dates for its Hyperflex hyperconverged system portfolio.
“Cisco is taking our entire cloud platform. So cloud infrastructure, cloud management, unified storage, all of it, integrating that with Cisco UCS, Cisco Intersight. UCS is the compute platform, Intersight is their UCS management,” Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami told investors following the company’s earnings announcement Aug. 31. “So that entire portfolio will now be sold by Cisco. So our cloud offering, software offering, along with their hardware, their networking, their security, their compute hardware, all put together by Cisco, fully integrated solutions, sold by their sellers.”
John Woodall, vice president of solutions architecture west at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider and long-time Cisco partner, told CRN last week that the move to end-of-life HyperFlex makes sense for both Nutanix and Cisco.
“Cisco has read the market,” he said. “Is it more important to sell HyperFlex or to sell Cisco UCS compute with Nutanix’s leading HCI software? HCI has been a good market, but Cisco can get more wins with Nutanix. It’s a balanced approach to achieving a leading market presence with Nutanix.”
CRN spoke with Goffi about the Nutanix-Cisco strategic partnership and what is next. The conversation has been edited for clarity and space.
There’s a lot of energy around this announcement. Partners are excited. What’s the mood like?
It’s huge. The inbound from our partners was immediate, with people saying ‘I can’t wait to hear more.’ The excitement was through the roof.
This allows us to think about an entirely new avenue of customers that we don’t have reach to. Its funny, it was our partner community that immediately saw the excitement. We didn’t have to say anything to them.
How much does this expand the market. Or how big an opportunity is this for Nutanix partners?
It’s a massive opportunity, but I can’t put a number on it.
From a channel partner perspective, what is this going to look like when its ready to be deployed?
There’s a lot yet to be determined. Thats the truth of it. But for our partner community, the opportunity really comes from having another platform that they can lean on our solution for. We’ve always been about customer choice and this is another one of those areas.
Our partners have become very in-tune with the beauty of our HCI platform and what Nutanix does best. And we are in a very interesting point in time. HCI brings that public cloud agility to the private data center. And now what customers are mostly thinking about is that evolution.
They would like to have a cloud-first mentality, but we know that the answer lies in the middle. That’s a hybrid-cloud model. So what our partners see is that Nutanix is very well positioned for this hybrid-cloud story. They can present themselves in front of a customer with how you can do both private data center and public cloud. And how you make decisions based on workload and based on applications. And how can you manage that seamlessly from public to private and everything in between?
So our partners know that about Nutanix. And now tying that into a Cisco, which we have so much overlap with in our partner community. This just opened the door for many more opportunities to be able to showcase Nutanix.
The partner program has undergone changes in the last couple years. But during the most recent earnings call CEO Rajiv Ramaswami said the company has been generating positive cash flow. For a company like Nutanix that transacts almost exclusively through the channel, this seems to show the strength of that program.
Our CEO has really set the tone in the company for us to be channel centric.
Channel centric can’t just be processing paper through the partner. It has to go deeper than that. The best vehicle for showing our channel-centricity - there’s two. One is our partner program. And the other one is the way we align with them in the field by being authentic with each other.
It has to make sense for the partner. It has to make sense for Nutanix. The partner program is an evolution. It’s something you never get to an end-state that you feel great about.
For my new channel chief David Gwyn, its about tweaking that formula to drive clarity in the field, to drive profitability on a mutual level. And how well we align together in the field. So you have a great product. You have a good partner program, you have to partner well together in a trustworthy relationship.
From a profitability perspective the feedback we get from partners is pretty good. They look at us as a highly profitability entity.
We’re also a great pull-through mechanism for them once they get in with Nutanix. For every dollar of Nutanix software, there’s good pull through of other things that partners sell. Its also a very relevant services margin play, which puts them in a great spot to increase their profitability formula. And lastly, our renewal rates are pretty darn good too.
So that predictable, recurring revenue stream is also something that they like.
There are so many networking challenges in the market now, whether its around hybrid deployments or GenAI. What are the advantages here in this Cisco partnership for the Nutanix channel?
We are pairing up with a world leader in networking. From our side it’s really about that agility that the public cloud brings to them. That’s why so many of them claim to be in a cloud-first model. They love the agility. They love the fact that they pay by the use.
That also brings challenges. Our goal is to bring all the goodness of the public cloud into the private cloud. That’s what Nutanix does best. And to answer the next question, what if they want it in both places? How can I manage that? We believe that we’re in the best position to answer that too. So that’s the tool that our partners and Cisco partners are going to be able to leverage.