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Nutanix Partners: New CEO ‘Perfect’ Fit To Help ‘Beat VMware’

Nutanix partners hail the firm’s new CEO Rajiv Ramaswami, a former top VMware cloud executive, as the perfect hire to help Nutanix get a leg-up over its biggest rival.

Nutanix’s new CEO Rajiv Ramaswami is the perfect hire to give the company an advantage over longtime rival VMware, according to channel partners.

“To get a guy who competed with Nutanix from your biggest competitor is exactly the person you want to join Nutanix because he knows the pluses and minus of VMware,” said Tim Joyce, president and CEO of Roundstone Solutions, an Orinda, Calif.-based Nutanix partner. “He can most likely help the Nutanix teams figure out how to beat VMware and is a perfect fit.”

Ramaswami (pictured above) was chief operating officer of Products and Cloud Services at VMware for the past four years, responsible for business units developing products, cloud services and cloud operations for VMware. Ramaswami is an industry all-star with a career spanning three decades in top executive roles for VMware, Broadcom, Cisco, Nortel and IBM.

[Related: The 10 Coolest Hyperconverged (HCI) Systems Of 2020]

VMware and Nutanix go head-to-head in several different markets including hyperconverged infrastructure software, hybrid cloud management and even in hypervisors. The two companies have traded barbs in the past with Nutanix calling VMware a “bully” and VMware slamming Nutanix as a “copycat.” However, the two competitors often show each other a great amount of respect.

VMware and Nutanix are focused on driving subscription and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sales while both are also forming partnerships with many of the same public cloud leaders.

“This is a huge, massive win for Nutanix,” said one top executive from a multi-billion-dollar solution provider who partners with both VMware and Nutanix, who declined to be identified. “I mean, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that [Ramaswami] knows VMware’s cloud business inside and out. He’s helping VMware follow through on its biggest goal right now of winning more SaaS and subscription. … This is a huge loss for VMware. I’m surprised he was even able to become CEO (of Nutanix) – usually a big executive has to sign something saying he won’t join a direct competitor.”

In a statement to CRN regarding Ramaswami departure to Nutanix, VMware said Ramaswami “made a personal career decision to leave the company” effective Dec. 7.

“We thank Rajiv for his passion and commitment and wish him well,” said VMware.

VMware’s Raghu Raghuram will now lead the company’s entire Products and Cloud Services team and continue in his role as executive vice president and COO, according to VMware.

Nutanix’s co-founder and now former CEO Dheeraj Pandey will leave as chairman on Dec. 14. In a statement, Pandey said, “Rajiv is the right leader at the right time.”

Ramaswami has more than 30 years of IT executive experience, including his top roles at VMware, Broadcom, Cisco Systems and Nortel. He began his career at IBM in 1988. Ramaswami’s track record includes building and scaling businesses in cloud services, software and network infrastructure. During his tenure, Ramaswami led several important acquisitions and played a key role in transitioning VMware toward a subscription and SaaS model.

Roundstone’s Joyce said he was just on a customer call yesterday with Pandey.

“It was so enlightening how well Dheeraj tells the Nutanix story. I was excited for that and I was thinking, ‘The next person has got to be able to tell the story like Dheeraj does.’ And Rajiv with his background sounds perfect to be able to continue that,” said Joyce. “He sounds like the kind of guy Nutanix should have been looking for and they did, which is really good to hear.”

Joyce said the biggest competition for Nutanix right now is customers being complacent with Dell Technologies and VMware solutions.

“Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to consider anything new because VMware and Dell EMC told them, ‘You still got to buy our servers, you have to buy our storage and keep paying a fortune for VMware’s virtualization,’” said Joyce. “This guy knows what VMware needed to do and now he’s going to be able to continue that with Nutanix, who’s already on that journey. … Nutanix made a really really good hire. I’m excited for my business continuing with Nutanix. But we’re going to miss Dheeraj because he was terrific with customers and technology.”

Ramaswami could not be reached for comment. In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaswami said he has “long admired Nutanix as a formidable competitor, a pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and a leader in cloud software.”

“Working closely with the board, the management team, and the more than 6,000 talented Nutanix employees around the world, we will build on Nutanix’s strong foundation of continuous innovation, collaboration and customer delight,” said Ramaswami. “Together, we will capitalize on the significant opportunities ahead and deliver on the company’s next phase of growth and value creation.”

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