Nutanix CEO Calls VMware Exec's Support Claims 'Truly Inane'

Dheeraj Pandey, president and CEO of Nutanix, has fired back at VMware after one of its executives raised questions about the quality of the hyper-converged infrastructure startup's customer support.

Nutanix runs VMware's vSphere server virtualization software in its hyper-converged appliance, which combines compute and storage running on a single box. Nutanix, which has several VMware-certified experts on staff, provides support for VMware vSphere but isn't authorized to charge for it because it's not an OEM partner.

In a recent blog post, Chuck Hollis, chief strategist for VMware's storage and availability business, said Nutanix hasn't been upfront about the fact that it's not a vSphere OEM, and that this could confuse its customers when issues arise.

[Related: VMware's Support Dust-Up With Nutanix May Signal Future Hyper-Converged Tensions]

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Pandey, in a blog post Monday, described Hollis' claims as "truly inane" and said it's not necessary to be a vSphere OEM in order to support the product. He said Nutanix also provides support for other applications and switches that connect to its product.

"Nutanix is simply trying to argue that storage is simply an app on the hypervisor," Pandey said in the blog post. "And just like there is no expectation from an app vendor to OEM ESXi (simply because they are running in a virtualized environment), there should be no expectation for us to OEM any hypervisor as part of our offering."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware is now a competitor of San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix with EVO:RAIL, its software stack for hyper-converged infrastructure, and some partners interpreted Hollis' comments as a competitive shot across the startup's bow. VMware touts one-call support for EVO:RAIL, which its OEM and channel partners provide.

Nutanix leads the global hyper-converged market after generating 52 percent of its overall revenue during the first half of 2014, research firm IDC said in January.

Tim Joyce, CEO of Roundstone Solutions, a San Francisco-based Nutanix partner, told CRN his customers haven't had any problems getting support for vSphere running on Nutanix.

"The support from Nutanix has been great. Customers can choose whichever hypervisor they wish [Nutanix supports VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM]. Supporting VMware is definitely no problem," Joyce said in an email.

Another Nutanix partner told CRN that customer support he's seen from the startup has been flawless so far.

"Nutanix solutions just work when you install, and if there are issues, they own it," said the partner, who didn't want to be named because he's also a VMware partner. "Nutanix solutions have resulted in the least amount of non-billable hours during implementation we've ever had."

Pandey said one reason why Nutanix isn't a vSphere OEM is because it also supports Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors. Also, if Nutanix were a vSphere OEM, it would be competing with its partners that also sell vSphere, he said.

"There was no point us making margin on a product that is already difficult for the channel to make good money on," Pandey said in the blog post.

VMware and Nutanix have been partners for several years, and like many ecosystem partnerships, theirs is a symbiotic relationship. But now they're competitors in a market with tons of potential, which could explain why the temperature of the rhetoric on both sides is on the rise.