Nutanix Takes Its Hyper-Converged Software To Public Cloud With Ravello Partnership

Nutanix, the hyper-converged infrastructure startup with a $2 billion valuation, is looking to extend its reach by letting customers and partners run its software in the public cloud.

On Tuesday, Nutanix unveiled a technology partnership with another startup -- Ravello Systems, Palo Alto, Calif. -- that paves the way for Nutanix Community Edition -- a free version of its software -- to run on Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform.

Nutanix released a free public beta of Community Edition in June, pitching it as a way for partners and enthusiasts to kick the tires on a free version of its software that can be installed on commercial off-the-shelf servers.

[Related: Hyper-Converged Newcomer Lenovo Inks OEM Agreement With Red-Hot Startup Nutanix]

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Greg Smith, senior director of product and technical marketing at Nutanix, told CRN that around 10,000 users have signed up to use Community Edition so far.

With its new offering, called Community Edition On Demand, Nutanix is making it possible to use its software in public cloud environments, eliminating the need for on-premise hardware entirely, Nikita Maheshwari, senior product marketing manager at Nutanix, told CRN.

Hyper-converged infrastructure refers to software that combines compute, storage and networking and runs on industry standard x86 servers.

Thanks to the Nutanix-Ravello technology integration, it's now possible to run Nutanix software on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Maheshwari said the software takes about 25 minutes to set up and costs $1 per hour to run.

Nutanix Community Edition runs on Acropolis, the KVM-based hypervisor the startup unveiled in June as a way to challenge VMware's dominance of the server hypervisor market.

Ravello, whose founders created the KVM hypervisor, has contributed technology that handles workflow and ease of use, according to Maheshwari. Ravello uses technology called nested virtualization to enable workloads to be moved from VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments to the AWS and Google public clouds.

Maheshwari told CRN that people who try out Nutanix's software are more likely to continue using it in production networks. And with Nutanix now running on AWS and Google Cloud Platform, its software is now available to a wider audience, she said.

Jim Steinlage, president of Choice Solutions, a Nutanix partner in Overland Park, Kan., said he believes adding public cloud compatibility will expose Nutanix to a broader set of customers.

"It is amazing how many CIOs are allowing their engineers to make the decisions about whether they look at Nutanix, and how many times they are stonewalling it for their traditional solutions," said Steinlage. "Hopefully, this will be a way to educate them on how Nutanix can make their jobs easier and allow them to do more productive things for their business units."

Much of Nutanix's strategy hinges on customers' using a mix of public cloud and private cloud infrastructure, and the Ravello partnership is another step in this direction, said Maheshwari.

Nutanix has OEM agreements with Dell and Lenovo, which sell its software packaged on their own server hardware, and the startup sells appliances based on hardware from Supermicro.

While Nutanix has hinted that it may release a software-only version of its hyper-converged technology, Smith told CRN that Community Edition doesn't represent a move in this direction.

"Community Edition allows us to demonstrate that we're a software-based solution," Smith said. "But it should not be considered as Nutanix moving away from hardware or being ready to release a software-only version -- that's not the intent."

Nutanix is seen as the top hyper-converged player and has raised more than $312 million in venture funding. SimpliVity, regarded as the No. 2 player in the market, has raised more than $276 million in funding.