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VMware Vs. Nutanix: Poonen And Pandey Trade Barbs In Software-Defined Spat

VMware COO Sanjay Poonen said Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey is "just screaming into Nutanix’s echo chamber" regarding the CEO's recent comments that VMware is worried about Nutanix.

The gloves are coming off as VMware and Nutanix trade barbs on Twitter over customer mindshare and software-defined market momentum. The back and forth came after Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey told CRN that, "VMware's worried about Nutanix more than they're worried about any other company."

VMware COO Sanjay Poonen fired back on Monday saying Pandey is, "just screaming into Nutanix's echo chamber!"

"Sorry (CRN) you have it wrong! VMware is firing on all cylinders, as evidence by our strong Q3. We are focused on our awesome customer and partners like (AWS) and (Dell Technologies), both of whom prefer VMware. Dheeraj is just screaming into Nutanix echo chamber!' said Poonen in a tweet.

[Related: CEO Dheeraj Pandey: VMware Is 'Worried About Nutanix']

Pandey quickly fired back on Twitter saying a global 500 company recently picked Nutanix over VMware.

"On a new G500 biotech account for Nutanix, here are the Win Notes: ‘This was a competitive win against vSAN in this longtime EMC shop. The customer was inclined to go with [VMware's] vSAN but we did a POC and the proof was hard to refute,’" said Pandey in a tweet.

VMware and Nutanix recently reported solid quarterly earnings, with both vendors posting the exact same total revenue increase of 14 percent year over year. VMware generated revenues of $2.2 billion for its third fiscal quarter, while Nutanix reported sales of $313 million for its first fiscal quarter.

Both vendors have been named a leader in Gartner's 2018 Magic Quadrant for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Similarly, Nutanix and VMware captured the No. 1 and No.2 highest scores in Forrester's new Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Q3 2018 report.

In September, Poonen called Nutanix a "copycat" of VMware following Nutanix's deal to acquire cloud-based desktop and application delivery specialist Frame in August.

"When Nutanix has gone down-stack to try to build their own hypervisor, across-stack to build their own networking, and now going up-stack to compete against [VMware] Horizon – we view it as sort of a copycay, wannabe VMware move," said Poonen in an interview with CRN.

Last week, Nutanix specifically called out VMware during its earnings call with analysts and media, saying the virtualization leader avoids head-to-head competition with Nutanix.

"Our dominance in the core is why VMware avoids doing [proofs of concept] in accounts when we have a head-to-head fight," said Pandey during Nutanix's earnings call Tuesday night with analysts and media. "Case in point was a new customer in EMEA which we won in Q1—a major international airport that is one of the busiest in the world. … With this customer, VMware's good enough wasn't good enough to create a dynamic cloud-grade platform for the majority of their core airport applications. Unlike humans who can work around weakness in good-enough business software, applications cannot work around good-enough infrastructure software they run on. ‘Good-enough infrastructure’ is an oxymoron. This is why we've been so successful at adding Nutanix for customers."

VMware is majority-owned by Dell Technologies and has been tightly integrating its products more closely with Dell in 2018 on several fronts, including hyper-converged infrastructure. Nutanix has a technology partnership with Dell EMC for its popular XC Series hyper-converged offerings.

Pandey said VMware is closer to Dell EMC today than it was a year ago, but that isn't stopping the hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer from winning deals. "Dell EMC definitely is closer to VMware than it was, let's say, a year or two ago, but even there we've navigated the co-opetition waters really well. We've moved to Dell XC Core products and XC Core basically meets in the channel," said Pandey. "In many ways, we're driving our own brand and our own pull from the customers. Many of these things are coming directly from the customers—they want to transform themselves and are looking at subscription-based pricing because Opex is good for them as they look towards cloud consumption and such."

In VMware's recent fiscal quarter, vSAN software-defined storage license bookings, including stand-alone vSAN software as well as the vSAN software component of VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure offerings, grew nearly 50 percent over last year.

vSAN now has more than 17,000 customers including over half of the Global 2000.

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