Oh, It's On: Converged Infrastructure Startup Nutanix Makes Bold Play For VCE Customers

Nutanix, a swashbuckling startup in the so-called hyper-converged infrastructure market, launched a campaign to poach VCE Vblock customers that might be fed up with the friction in the VMware-Cisco-EMC joint venture.

On Wednesday, Nutanix launched a Vblock-to-Nutanix migration service that it's delivering in conjunction with its channel partners.

Here's how it works: Nutanix partners assess VCE customers' existing Vblock environments and the workloads running on them, and then come up with a plan for migrating these over to Nutanix clusters, which consist of flash storage and hard disk drives running on up to four commodity servers.

[Related: VCE Touts Healthy Vblock Sales, But Partners Concerned Over New Infighting ]

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Nutanix’s Global Service Organization (GSO) provides additional application and workload migration services, as well as training for VCE customers that are new to Nutanix's style of infrastructure.

Nutanix is also running a "trade-up" program in which VCE customers can replace their Vblocks with Nutanix, in some cases at the same cost of their existing Vblock support and maintenance, Steve Kaplan, vice president of channel and strategic sales at Nutanix, told CRN.

VCE didn't respond to a request for comment on the Nutanix program.

Kaplan said Nutanix currently does two-thirds of its business through enterprises and government agencies and, based on this experience, is well-equipped to take on VCE.

That said, Kaplan said Nutanix is taking a measured approach to its VCE customer recruitment.

"We're not just coming in and saying, 'Throw away your Vblocks and put in Nutanix.' We're being careful to understand all the workloads and resources and requirements around that," Kaplan said.

Nutanix, whose staff includes top engineers from Google and Facebook, borrows heavily from the infrastructure philosophy of building highly customized software that runs on commodity hardware.

In Nutanix's view of the world, Vblocks -- pre-integrated EMC storage, Cisco UCS servers and networking, and VMware virtualization -- are an example of legacy data center infrastructure that is not only more expensive, but also less scalable than its appliances.

Kaplan said Nutanix's adherence to Google's infrastructure principles is a key point of differentiation from Vblocks and other enterprise stacks.

"The questions we always ask customers are: Do you want what Google is pioneering in the cloud space? And do you want that same scalable, simple architecture in your data center?" Kaplan told CRN.

Nutanix also promises faster deployment times than VCE is offering with Vblocks. It takes VCE 40 days to get a Vblock up and running after a customer places an order, while Nutanix takes just five days, said Kaplan.

By making its move now, Nutanix is hoping to capitalize on friction in the VCE joint venture, Kaplan said. EMC and Cisco have been butting heads for some time, and earlier this month, sources told CRN that tensions are on the rise between salespeople from EMC and VCE.

Nutanix has raised more than $170 million in venture capital to date.