The partnership between Microsoft and hyper-converged infrastructure startup Nutanix has captured the attention of partners on both sides, though many still aren't clear on what the relationship actually entails.
The relationship began last July when Nutanix joined Microsoft's private cloud partner program, certifying Nutanix's hyper-converged technology -- which combines compute, storage and networking on x86 server hardware -- for use in private clouds built on Windows Server and the Hyper-V hypervisor.
Nutanix is the only hyper-converged vendor in the program, which also includes heavyweights like IBM, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and EMC.
Nutanix partners see the Microsoft relationship as a potentially powerful validation of the startup's technology, one that could attract more large customers. Nutanix already has an OEM agreement with Dell, and sources told CRN earlier this month that it's also in talks with HP about a similar type of arrangement.
"I think the Microsoft partnership will allow Nutanix to continue its push into the enterprise," Jeff Guenthner, director of solutions architecture at CMI, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based Nutanix partner, told CRN.
Nutanix's simplicity, and the fact that it works with VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors, makes it a complementary private cloud technology to the Microsoft Azure public cloud, Guenthner said.
Nutanix, which has raised more than $312 million in five funding rounds, has set its sights on customers of VCE, the former joint venture between EMC, Cisco and VMware, which is now majority-owned by EMC.
Nutanix executives weren't available for comment. But Sudheesh Nair, senior vice president of worldwide sales and business development at Nutanix, told CRN in June that his company's private cloud expertise can help Microsoft's hybrid cloud portfolio, in which customers use a mix of private and public cloud resources.
"What they see in Nutanix is a partner ... that gets the fact that cloud is the future, and is providing the same type of experience in the data center," said Nair. "They recognize that Nutanix has the ability and potential to disrupt the enterprise data center in a way that a foundation can be built."
Yet Microsoft partners appear somewhat less enthused about the Nutanix partnership.