Sources: HP, Nutanix In Talks On Hyper-Converged OEM Or Reseller Agreement

Hewlett-Packard and Nutanix are in talks about an OEM or reseller agreement that would give the world's largest server vendor a potentially powerful relationship with the hyper-converged startup, multiple sources familiar with the talks told CRN this week.

The sources said the HP and Nutanix talks have been going on for a couple of months and may not result in a deal being finalized. If the two vendors come to terms, HP would likely release a new hyper-converged infrastructure appliance based on the Nutanix software, according to the sources, who didn't want to be named because the talks are confidential.

Spokespeople from HP and Nutanix declined to comment.

[Related: VMware EVO Channel Not Seeing It, But Expects Changes At VMworld]

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Several HP and Nutanix solution providers told CRN they'd welcome such a deal because their customers are interested in hyper-converged infrastructure, which combines compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources running on x86 server hardware.

HP has its own hyper-converged infrastructure based on its StoreVirtual software-defined storage platform, but recently stopped selling VMware's EVO:RAIL hyper-converged offering. HP, in explaining its decision, said it had not sold any EVO:RAIL units.

Nutanix has an existing OEM agreement with Dell, which develops hyper-converged infrastructure appliances based on its servers and Nutanix software.

Sources said an HP-Nutanix OEM or reseller deal would put pressure on Cisco Systems, which has a reseller agreement with hyper-converged startup SimpliVity, Nutanix's main market rival.

Solution providers who have partnerships with both Cisco and SimpliVity can order the solution through SimpliVity, which handles the integration with Cisco UCS servers. Such deals already account for about 20 percent of SimpliVity's sales, the startup told CRN.

While Nutanix has all along maintained it will not sell its software as a stand-alone application for partners or customers to integrate with their own servers, it does offer a free software-only version of its technology for customers to use for testing and development purposes.

One solution provider told CRN that Nutanix showed its software running on an HP server at its sales kickoff last month, although the demonstration was supposedly done by mistake.

Sources said the potential new relationship between HP and Nutanix comes at a good time for both vendors. HP is in the midst of splitting into two separate companies, one focused on PCs and printers and the other on enterprise technology. Nutanix, meanwhile, is said to be preparing for a long-awaited initial public offering.

One solution provider told CRN he's expecting an HP-Nutanix deal to happen soon. "A lot of companies like Nutanix are trying to make themselves look like software-defined solutions providers with stacks that run on any hardware. Think about how brilliant this would be for Nutanix before the IPO," said the source.

Another solution provider said an HP-Nutanix relationship would be a big validation for the hyper-converged infrastructure industry. Although sales of an HP-Nutanix appliance could cannibalize sales of HP's own StoreVirtual-based appliances, he said this isn't much of a concern.

"HP and Nutanix offer two different approaches to solving similar problems," the solution provider said. "Both are viable solutions."

Converged infrastructure solutions like VMware Vblocks and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions like Nutanix resonate with customers' needs to be able to stand up large IT infrastructures or public cloud infrastructures, another solution provider told CRN.

"A partnership between HP and Nutanix would simplify things for me," the solution provider said.

The relationship with HP shows that Nutanix has fully figured out where and how it wants to go to market, the solution provider said.

"HP partnerships, over the years, like many partnerships, see it going to bed with a partner, then getting under the covers, and then buy the company or technology," the solution provider said. "HP did that with Aruba and 3PAR. It makes sense to do it with Nutanix.

Kevin McLaughlin contributed to this story.