HPE-Nutanix Partnership Takes Aim At Dell EMC-VMware, Partners Say

‘Now we’ll be able go in there with [Nutanix] AHV and some other products so we can deliver world-class software on HPE and not run VMware at all in the organization anymore,’ says one top executive from a solution provider who partners with HPE, Dell and Nutanix.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Nutanix have formed a first-ever strategic partnership that channel partners say is taking aim at Dell EMC and VMware’s market-share leadership in servers and hyper-converged infrastructure.

Nutanix is diving into the consumption-based world by offering its flagship Enterprise Cloud OS software on HPE’s GreenLake highly successful channel-led, consumption-based pay-per-use offering. In addition, the two vendors are creating a new line of integrated appliances that will allow partners to sell HPE ProLiant and Apollo servers with Nutanix’s software on top, enabling customers to purchase an integrated, turnkey HPE-Nutanix solution.

“If an HPE sales rep sells a vSphere solution, they’re really just enabling VxRail and Dell to come in after them to kick them out,” said a top executive from a solution provider who partners with Dell EMC, Nutanix and HPE. “The next guy to take a meeting after a VMware meeting is the Dell account manager who’s out there selling VxRail. … Nutanix’s relationship with Dell since the [EMC] acquisition has been different. But now we’ll be able go in there with [Nutanix] AHV and some other products so we can deliver world-class software on HPE and not run VMware at all in the organization anymore.”

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Nutanix software on HPE GreenLake is an integrated hybrid cloud as-a-service solution where partners can sell a built-in, free Nutanix AHV hypervisor and software suite alongside HPE. The offering will provide fully managed hybrid cloud infrastructure delivered as a service and deployed in customers’ data centers or co-location facilities.

Greg Smith, vice president of product marketing for San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix, told CRN that the partnership was formed due to market demand from partners and customers. “Both companies recognize the market demand for Nutanix software running on HPE servers,” he said. “Our longstanding strategy is to expand the choice for both consumption models and platforms for Nutanix software.”

When questioned if Nutanix’s relationship with Dell EMC has changed, Smith said “all other OEM relationships do not change.”

“Channel partners will continue to have the flexibility to offer Nutanix across a variety of not only Nutanix appliances, but OEM-led appliances like Dell EMC, Lenovo and IBM,” Smith said. “The most valuable thing to the partner community is that they can provide a full breadth of consumption models. … This new family of integrated appliances is perfect for those customers who want that great Nutanix software experience that have a preference for HPE servers.”

HPE is the second-largest server manufacturer in the world, owning 17.8 percent market share, according to IDC, while the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is also the third-largest hyper-converged infrastructure provider. Nutanix is the second largest HCI provider with 14.8 percent global market share. HPE and Nutanix are trailing Dell Technologies, which includes Dell EMC and VMware, in HCI and server market share.

Channel partners say the HPE-Nutanix partnership is a “monumental” move by both vendors to try to steal market share from Dell. Partners said Dell and Nutanix previously had a strong HCI partnership, which includes the XC Series, but the relationship has been falling by the wayside since Dell acquired EMC in 2016, which included an 81 percent stake in VMware.

“We’ve been told to push VxRail, VxRack—not XC anymore,” said one CEO from a solution provider who partners with Dell EMC, VMware and Nutanix and did not want to be identified. “It’s definitely changed over the last two years and with good reason. Why would Dell push a Dell-Nutanix solution when they can push essentially Dell-VMware hyper-convergence? … This is a good move on Nutanix’s part to sort of pivot away from Dell because Nutanix competes against VMware, and see if HPE and HPE GreenLake can go drive some new opportunities for them.”

Dell and VMware, for their part, haven’t been shying away from the Dell-VMware “better together” strategy, which has engineers from both vendors working side by side to create joint solutions.

“The mandate we were given from [Dell Technologies CEO] Michael Dell, [Vice Chairman, Products and Operations, Dell EMC] Jeff Clarke and [VMware CEO] Pat Gelsinger is, ‘When we do things with VMware and Dell EMC, we want to be first and best no matter what we do,” said Chad Dunn, vice president of HCI product management for Dell EMC, in a recent interview with CRN. “What we heard from Michael, Jeff and Pat and the rest of the strategically aligned businesses is, ‘We want to do more like VxRail. And we want to do it deeper and more broadly across companies.”

According to an HPE-commissioned Forrester report on the total economic impact of HPE GreenLake, customers benefit from a 30 percent Capex savings due to the eliminated need for overprovisioning and a 90 percent reduction in support and professional services costs. IDC said Nutanix’s hyper-converged software allows customers to achieve a 60 percent reduction in the five-year cost of operations.

Worth Davis, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, an HPE and Nutanix partner ranked No. 116 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list, said Nutanix software on GreenLake is a “win-win” for partners and customers.

“You’re not really having a true cloud conversation unless you have solved the consumption and financial modeling of the solution itself, which is what GreenLake does. So this immediately brings Nutanix into that as well as gives HPE a new solid go-to-market offering for GreenLake,” said Davis. “Nutanix has over a dozen really strong pieces of software and now being paired with one of the strongest data center solutions is really a win-win for partners and customers.”

The new Nutanix-HPE joint family of appliances and HPE GreenLake with Nutanix software will become available in the third quarter of 2019.

Davis said the partnership will open the door to customers who may have been wary of adopting Nutanix because its software wasn’t previously available on HPE hardware.

“If you went into a data center that was heavily centralized on HPE with Nutanix’s original platform based on SuperMicro and others, you would lose sales cycles,” said Davis. “You used to have to try to convince them that it was OK to do Nutanix on a [non-HPE solution], but now that’s gone. This is really great news for us.”

HPE and Nutanix plan to showcase their new combined offerings at Nutanix’s .Next conference next month.