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Dell Exec Reveals Plan To Extend Hyper-Convergence OEM Deal With Startup Nutanix

At Nutanix's second annual customer conference, a Dell executive says the vendors are working to extend their existing OEM agreement, quelling speculation it might end after the Dell-EMC deal closes.

A Dell executive said Wednesday that the vendor is extending its two-year old OEM agreement with hyper-convergence startup Nutanix, showing the partnership will continue despite potential friction from EMC.

"I'm thrilled to say we've reached an agreement to extend our OEM relationship," Alan Atkinson, Dell's vice president and general manager of storage, said in a keynote at Nutanix's second annual customer conference in Las Vegas. "Customers can buy with confidence."

In the first two years of the OEM agreement, Dell and Nutanix have expanded the scope of their joint sales and marketing activities from one product to seven products, showing the partnership is going strong, said Atkinson.

[Related: How Nutanix's Pairings With Lenovo, Cisco Could End Its Relationship With Dell After The EMC Merger]

Atkinson didn’t indicate the length of the extension, and a Dell spokesman declined to comment further. Dell and Nutanix’s current OEM agreement, signed in 2014, is set to expire in 2017.

In an interview with CRN, Nutanix Chief Marketing Officer Howard Ting said the Dell extension is a "multiyear agreement" but declined to comment further because the details have not been finalized.

Some Dell and Nutanix customers have been wary of the competitive implications of Dell’s acquisition of EMC, which pitches its own VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure appliance as a Nutanix killer. Partners on both sides told CRN earlier this month that they believe Dell might focus more on VxRail than Nutanix once the deal closes.

Some partners believe Nutanix's OEM agreement with Lenovo, inked last year, may diminish the significance of its Dell agreement over time. Others have pointed to Nutanix's partnership talks with Cisco Systems, first reported by CRN last month, as an additional sign that the Dell agreement may not remain as important as it once was.

Atkinson's revelation at the Nutanix conference should quell this speculation, at least for the time being, partners told CRN.

"It's very comforting to hear that the Dell/Nutanix relationship is continuing," said Daniel Holm, director of enterprise solutions at InterWorks, a Nutanix partner in Stillwater, Okla.

Jim Steinlage, president of Choice Solutions, a Nutanix partner in Overland Park, Kan., said Dell "realizes the creativity and value that Nutanix has brought -- and will continue to bring -- to their customers. They want to assure customers they can continue on their current road map."

Tim Joyce, CEO of Roundstone Solutions, a San Francisco-based Nutanix partner, sees the OEM agreement extension as a "significant move" by Dell and Nutanix.

"It speaks to the fact that Dell knows that Nutanix is what customers want to buy," Joyce said. "Customers want innovation and that's what they get from Nutanix.’

As Nutanix continues to pitch itself as an enterprise cloud platform vendor, Ting said it will continue working with other vendors to get its software running on a wide range of hardware.

"To be a true platform company, over time we have to have our software running everywhere," Ting told CRN. "We're getting a lot of demand from customers to make Nutanix available on other platforms."

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