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Why Red Hat Nutanix Alliance Puts ‘Heat’ On VMware: Partners

‘It really takes one of the premier, full-stack Kubernetes solutions with Red Hat and positions Nutanix AOS with their AHV hypervisor as the preferred platform — that’s something that is going to be a competitive differentiator,’ says Rick Gouin, CTO of Winslow Technology Group.

Red Hat and Nutanix are joining forces to put the pressure on virtualization superstar VMware in the fight to see who becomes the hybrid cloud computing kingpin in enterprise Kubernetes and containers.

“It really takes one of the premier, full-stack Kubernetes solutions with Red Hat and positions Nutanix AOS with their AHV hypervisor as the preferred platform — that’s something that is going to be a competitive differentiator,” said Rick Gouin, chief technology officer at Waltham, Mass.-based Winslow Technology Group, a top-notch VMware and Nutanix partner. “It lends a whole bunch of credibility to the Nutanix offering coupled with OpenShift. It’s something that’s going to have enterprises who are adopting that full-stack Kubernetes solution to take perhaps a more serious and more credible look at Nutanix’s great solution. So I do think that’ll be a nice differentiator.”

Gouin said channel partners will now have two “strong solutions” in containers and enterprise Kubernetes to take to customers with VMware and now Nutanix and Red Hat.

“We definitely intend to bring both platforms to market and provide more options. This almost ties back into the VMware discussion where this is all aiming towards more standards and open standard-based solutions,” said Gouin, who’s been a top systems engineer and technologist for over 20 years. “So to have customer choice built around a common set of standards, protocols, and to be able to offer these different routes to those standards and protocols — is great. So more customer choice, more competition and more credible and reliable options in this space.”

[Related: 70 Percent Of Scale Computing Clients Come From VMware: CEO Jeff Ready]

Nutanix and Red Hat recently unveiled a new strategic partnership that will see both companies cross certifying and tightly integrating Red Hat Enterprise Linux (REHL), OpenShift and the Nutanix Cloud Platform solutions, aiming to drive greater sales and adoption of Red Hat’s Kubernetes platform and Nutanix’s hyperconverged infrastructure.

Red Hat’s OpenShift is now the preferred choice for full-stack Kubernetes on the Nutanix Cloud Platform, while Nutanix’s platform is now the preferred choice for HCI for REHL and OpenShift. Customers will be able to contact either company for support around deployment, interoperability or for managing virtualized and containerized workloads on hyperconverged infrastructure.

Channel partners said, when combined, Nutanix and Red Hat – which is owned by IBM — can mostly match VMware’s portfolio with a mix of hybrid cloud software and open-source capabilities. Although price tags remain to be seen regarding new joint Nutanix and Red Hat offerings, partners say Nutanix and Red Hat’s solutions are generally priced lower than VMware.

“So we have VMware customers looking to reduce costs all the time and one option is RHEL running on AHV,” said one top executive from a global solution provider who partners with Dell Technologies, VMware, IBM, Red Hat and Nutanix, who declined to be named. “Nutanix and Red Hat are coming together to say, ‘Hey, we have something new with more open standards, that will be integrated and supported by us together, that’s probably cheaper overall that the VMware stack or [VMware] ESXi. You need to look at this new option for enterprise Kubernetes.’ … That does puts heat on VMware. Now who wins that TCO [total cost of ownership] and container capabilities bake-off – I’m not sure yet, but it’s a real option now.”

“But, you have to remember, VMware is everywhere and my customers trust them and like the direction their going,” said the executive.

VMware has invested millions in its container and Kubernetes strategy over the past few years, including the blockbuster launches of Tanzu and Project Pacific.

VMware Tanzu allows businesses to run Kubernetes in vSphere and manage Kubernetes across multiple clouds whether its public or private, while allowing customers to automate the delivery of containerized workloads. Tanzu is rapidly gaining market momentum as enterprises and developers across the globe leverage Tanzu’s Kubernetes capabilities to build modern applications faster than ever before.

Tanzu was included in five of VMware’s top ten largest deals in its fiscal 2022 first quarter. Additionally, Tanzu was selected by U.S. Army Futures Command this year to enable a software factory where they can use modern cloud-native development practices.

VMware is also innovating via acquisitions, including this year’s purchase of cloud-based application security startup Mesh7 in a move to boost Tanzu.

“The integration of Mesh7’s contextual API behavior security solution with Tanzu Service Mesh will enable VMware to deliver high fidelity understanding of which applications components are talking to which using APIs,” said Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Networking and Security business when the purchase was unveiled. “Developers and security teams will each gain a better understanding of when, where and how applications and microservices are communicating via APIs, even across multi-cloud environments, enabling better DevSecOps.”

The Nutanix Cloud Platform consists of its Acropolis operating system (AOS) and AHV virtualization platform. With the new partnership, AHV is now a Red Hat certified hypervisor enabling full support for Red Hat OpenShift and RHEL that provides customers a full stack solution for containerized and virtualized cloud-native applications.

Channel partners say VMware has the upper hand in enterprise Kubernetes in 2021, but once the Nutanix and Red Hat partnership gets underway, market competition will heat up likely in 2022.

It is key to note that Nutanix’s CEO Rajiv Ramaswami joined the company less than one-year ago after leading VMware’s products and cloud services business as chief operating officer from 2016 to late 2020.

“This partnership brings together Red Hat’s industry-leading cloud native solutions with the simplicity, flexibility and resilience of the Nutanix Cloud Platform,” said Ramaswami in a statement. “Together, our solutions provide customers with a full stack platform to build, scale, and manage containerized and virtualized cloud native applications in a hybrid multicloud environment.”

As VMware’s top executive co-leading all of VMware’s business units developing products, cloud services, and cloud operations, Ramaswami understands VMware’s strategy inside and out. Additionally, VMware is getting spun-out of Dell Technologies later this year in a move that will make VMware a independent company for the first time since 2004.

“This type of competition is good for the channel,” said Winslow’s Gouin. “We see both of these as strong solutions. There’s a whole bunch of different technical questions and architectural concerns, and even right down to customer preferences, that will lead us to recommend perhaps one solution or another.”

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