Nutanix's First Partner Conference: New VDI ROI Tool, Channel-Focused Services

Converged infrastructure technology developer Nutanix Wednesday used its first-ever channel partner conference to introduce a tool to help partners show customers the cost benefits of running a virtual desktop infrastructure on Nutanix solutions.

The company also formalized its services program and unveiled new services its partners can take to customers.

The new offerings were presented to partners at the Nutanix Now partner conference, held this week in Denver.

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Nutanix develops converged infrastructure solutions that tie together server, storage, networking and virtualization resources into an integrated solution with a unified management console.

Nutanix's new application helps solution providers compute the return on investment (ROI) of virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI), starting with solutions aimed at the health-care market.

Nutanix is a game-changer for VDI, said Steve Kaplan, vice president of channel and strategic sales at San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix.

"Customers have traditionally used VDI for disaster recovery and business continuity, but not for applications because of the cost of the storage needed for VDI," Kaplan told CRN. "With Nutanix, customers can start small and grow as needed. It's not like in the past when customers had to look at VDI storage requirements three, four or five years down the road."

The Nutanix ROI tool includes just eight questions covering the key points of the customer's VDI requirements, Kaplan said.

"It's not comprehensive," he said. "But it shows the benefits of storage for VDI. As far as I know, this is the first simple VDI ROI solution developed for channel partners."

Nutanix Wednesday also unveiled its first formal portfolio of productized services offerings.

Parmeet Chaddha, vice president of global services and customer services for Nutanix, said the company is at the point where making services available to customers is a must.

"The last eight months have seen Nutanix more broadly adopted in enterprise data centers," Chaddha said. "Our product is simple and mature. But as customers run more and more mission-critical workloads, and run more alien workloads like SAP and others which have not been benchmarked internally, services plays an increasingly important role."

Customers and partners also are starting to leverage Nutanix APIs in their management frameworks such as CA Unicenter and HP OpenView, Chaddha said. "It's important for us to have a formal approach to customer success," he said.

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Nutanix's services offering includes three pillars, Chaddha said.

The first is customer advocacy, or providing a single point of contact for premier partners to help them handle escalation and coordinate services offerings that may include Nutanix internal resources.

The second is education, including training for sales reps and engineers on both the partner and customer side to help them gain certified status as Nutanix Platform Professionals. Nutanix also plans to certify partners and customers for Level 1 and Level 2 support, break-fix support, and the ability to manage modern workloads such as Splunk or VDI.

The third is consulting services ranging from deploying Nutanix clusters to VDI, private cloud deployment, and physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual migration, Chaddha said.

Nutanix will provide these services for partners to either resell using Nutanix to do the implementation, or to do all the delivery and invoicing on their own, he said.

These services are not slated to be offered on a per-hour model, Chaddha said. "We will scope these as predefined services which can be provided at a fixed price based on the number of nodes," he said. "They will include data sheets, templates, tools and the necessary intellectual property."

Nutanix's new services play will provide real value and support to channel partners, said Terry Buchanan, vice president of technology and general manager at Zycom Technology, a Kingston, Ontario-based cloud services provider and Nutanix partner.

"I like how Nutanix is creating actual SKUs for servers, and making a lot of them available as node-based services with a price per node," Buchanan said. "It's very simple. The program is made so partners can either co-deliver the services or, if they are like us, deliver them ourselves."

Nutanix's program was designed from the beginning to engage partners, Buchanan said. "They're trying to leverage what partners can bring to the table," he said.

Nutanix has proved to be a very supportive vendor partner to the channel, Buchanan said. "The company's really ready to help us work new opportunities," he said. "Our organization is not an ambulance chaser. We work together with Nutanix, and meet with them regularly to discuss opportunities. We ask for something, and they jump."