Nutanix Brings Its HCI Software To HPE Servers, Adds New Appliance Rental Option

Hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer Nutanix on Wednesday said it is making its software stack available for deployment by channel partners on Hewlett Packard Enterprise ProLiant servers.

The company also expanded its software capability to Cisco's UCS B-series of blade servers for the first time.

Nutanix also unveiled a new pricing scheme for its hyper-converged infrastructure offerings that turns the sale into an operating expense for customers who prefer not to purchase the appliances outright.

[Related: HPE To Cisco, Lenovo, Huawei: When It Comes To SimpliVity, You Are On Your Own]

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Greg Smith, senior director of product and technology marketing at Nutanix called the news a "meet-in-the-channel" similar to how Nutanix offers its software stack on Cisco UCS C-series servers.

Under the "meet-in-the-channel" strategy, channel partners deploy the Nutanix software stack on the server without the active participation of the server vendor.

Neither HPE nor Cisco have technology relationships with Nutanix. Both offer their own hyper-converged infrastructure appliances. Cisco's primary offering is Cisco HyperFlex. HPE, on the other hand, offers at least three hyper-converged infrastructure families including its HC380, the SimpliVity 380 based on its SimpliVity acquisition, and an offering based on VMware's vSAN Ready Nodes.

However, Nutanix has an OEM relationship with Dell EMC via that company's XC series, and with Lenovo via its XH series.

HPE, in response to a CRN request for more information, replied via email, "While it's nice that Nutanix recognizes our leadership in the server industry, there is no relationship between HPE and Nutanix. Customers looking for a supported hyper-converged solution on our DL380 are better served using our HPE SimpliVity product."

The Nutanix is a 100-percent software solution that runs on industry-standard servers, Smith said. While Nutanix sells its own hardware appliances based on hardware from Supermicro, with the addition of HPE ProLiant servers, the company has certified its software to run on all the world's top server brands, he said.

"With this, customers can now run Nutanix on enterprise clouds, and select from their server vendor of choice: Dell, Lenovo, Cisco, and HPE," he said. "This is a strong validation of our software model."

Because Nutanix does not have a technology relationship with HPE or with Cisco, customers cannot count on the server vendors to directly support that Nutanix software, Smith said. However, with channel partner support, that has not been a problem with Cisco UCS servers, and should not be with HPE ProLiant servers, he said.

"Our expectation is that HPE will support their customers as their customers request Nutanix software to power their infrastructure," he said. "That has been our experience in the field with Cisco. As customers adopt Nutanix, that pushes the server vendors to support it. If the customer values the software part of the solution, it will request the Nutanix software stack and expect it will be supported by the server vendor."

The Nutanix move to bring its software to HPE servers is brilliant, said Dan Molina, chief technology officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution providers and channel partner to both HPE and Nutanix.

"The winners with this offering are probably solution providers like us who have invested in both platforms and can bring a choice to customers," Molina told CRN. "HPE will find the Nutanix offering a way to build a stronger ecosystem for its ProLiant servers."

Nutanix and HPE's various hyper-converged solutions offer a variety of differentiated choices for customers, Molina said.

"SimpliVity's differentiation starts at the beginning of the I/O lifecycle, where it does dedupe and compression on the data so that no matter how often it's replicated, the amount of data is the smallest possible," he said. "It's an incredible differentiation. Nutanix, meanwhile, has an established architecture and strong market penetration. We're happy to carry all these quality offerings."

Chris Case, president of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and HPE channel partner, said his company is doing well with HPE's own SimpliVity 380, HC380, and HPE vSAN Ready Nodes, and is in no hurry to adopt the Nutanix software.

"We bring options to our customer base, but don't go head-to-head often against Nutanix," Case told CRN. "Maybe it's because Dell EMC is in our backyard. We see a lot of Dell EMC VSAN and VxRail offerings."

Case said he does not expect many of his HPE clients to consider the Nutanix-on-HPE offering.

"Customers don't care so much about what's under the covers," he said. "They are more focused on the functionality of the software. And all the vendors have their own secret sauce."

Nutanix Go, the program under which the company will offer its hyper-converged infrastructure appliances on a recurring basis, is all about offering customers a choice in how they consume their IT infrastructure, Smith said.

"Some customers want short-term purchases, and the ability to scale up and down," he said. "With Go, they can rent the infrastructure for as short as six months. They can scale it up or down, or just return it. It becomes an on-premises cloud solution as an operating expense."

The new offering comes in response to customer demands, Smith said. "CIOs and budget owners want to shift budgets to better align with the business instead of making a three- to five-year purchasing decision."

Molina said the new Nutanix Go pricing does indeed provide more customer choice.

"The industry is changing," he said. "Customers are starting to change their procurement practices, shifting from capital expenses to more of an operating expense model. And that's because of the impact of the cloud and subscription services."