Sources: Cisco Privately Bashes New Nutanix Hyper-converged UCS Offering Ahead Of Debut

Cisco is privately disavowing the eagerly anticipated Nutanix-Cisco hyper-converged offering, telling channel partners that the networking giant is in no way publicly supporting it and leaving Nutanix "confused" by Cisco's stance.

"Cisco is in no way publicly supporting nor advertising the Nutanix capabilities," said one source familiar with the situation. "Essentially, Cisco is saying Nutanix is like any other guy off the street who can buy a bunch of UCS [Unified Compute System] servers, slap software on them, and sell them as an appliance."

Hyper-converged superstar Nutanix has been actively in talks for months to build a specialized hyper-converged offering with Cisco UCS. Nutanix is expected to announce the hyper-converged offering in the near future without Cisco technical support.

"Cisco will provide the classic hardware/firmware-level of support for the servers themselves, but will in no way offer any support for the Nutanix software laying on top," said the source. "Essentially, this means no single [phone] number for support. A customer would have to deal with Nutanix for software issues and Cisco for hardware issues separately. The age-old game of finger pointing will no doubt ensue.’

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[Related: Sources: Massive Layoffs Coming At Cisco]

Nutanix CMO Howard Ting said Cisco's position on the offering is creating confusion.

"We're aware Cisco has sent communications to joint channel partners. We have worked with our channel partners to thoroughly test and validate the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform on Cisco UCS, and joint customers will be fully supported by Nutanix," said Howard Ting, CMO of Nutanix, in an emailed statement to CRN. "We are confused why Cisco wouldn’t embrace the strong customer and partner demand for Nutanix on Cisco UCS and create more choices, and thus value, for their customers."

Cisco did not respond for comment by press time.

This comes five months after sources told CRN that Cisco offered $4 billion to acquire Nutanix last year. Cisco’s best offer was around $4 billion compared to Nutanix’s asking price of around $6 billion to $7 billion.

The trash talking about Nutanix represents a sharp contrast to they way the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant approached its hyper-converged offering created with hyper-converged vendor SimpliVity. Under that strategic partnership, Cisco channel partners can add SimpliVity's software and hardware card -- which handles storage deduplication, compression and optimization -- to Cisco UCS servers.

Sources told CRN it's not clear why Nutanix is pushing so hard to team with Cisco, as Cisco doesn’t really have an ideal hardware platform for Nutanix.

"So from a purely technical aspect you just wouldn't get the density out of a UCS-based Nutanix system that you would out of Dell or SuperMicro," said the source. "It will be interesting to see where this goes."

The Nutanix offering comes as Cisco is stepping up its support for hyper-converged partner Springpath. Earlier this month, sources told CRN that Cisco is getting closer to making a deal to acquire Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Springpath, whose technology is used in Cisco’s HyperFlex Systems.

Cisco took the wraps off its new hyper-converged infrastructure product HyperFlex in March which uses software-defined storage technology from Springpath. Springpath is shifting to become a Cisco-only OEM development company, with less focus now on other selling and marketing activities.

Since its general release, "hundreds of customers" have purchased Cisco HyperFlex, said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing Systems Group, at Cisco Live this month.