Nutanix’s Ramaswami On VMware’s New CEO, HPE And Partner Vision

Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami explains to CRN what Nutanix channel partners should be doing right now and discusses his fastest-growing OEM partnerships and former colleague Raghu Raghuram becoming VMware’s new CEO.

Nutanix’s Rajiv Ramaswami Talks VMware, HPE, Lenovo And Channel Partners

Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami is bullish about his company’s future channel growth and innovation strategy along with its key OEM partnerships with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo.

Last week, the San Jose, Calif.-based hyperconverged software and hybrid cloud standout reported $345 million in total revenue for its third fiscal quarter 2021, representing an 8 percent jump in revenue year over year. Furthermore, total revenue in annual contract value (ACV) billings, which Nutanix has been focusing on driving, climbed to a record-breaking $160 million in the third quarter, up 18 percent year over year.

“We are reaping the benefits of all the hard work of moving to a subscription and SaaS model,” said Ramaswami in an interview with CRN. “We have a very large market to address—both in our core platform and emerging software. It’s front and center for our customers in transforming their business. And look, this quarter again showed that our customers love our products and love how we interact with them. All in all, I’m happy with our execution and our outlook.”

In an interview with CRN, Ramaswami talked about what channel partners need to do to drive Nutanix sales growth and which OEM vendors’ sales are growing the fastest. He also gives his thoughts on former colleague Raghu Raghuram becoming VMware’s new CEO this week.

Can you talk about your former VMware colleague Raghu Raghuram becoming the new CEO of VMware?

Look, Raghu has been a personal friend of mine long before I joined him at VMware. So I’ve known him for more than 20-plus years at this point. He’s a friend. And over the past five years, I’ve worked very closely with him as a colleague.

I’m truly delighted for him on a personal level in terms of him being the CEO of VMware. He’s been there for 17 years. He knows the company. I have a lot of respect for him.

I also look forward to doing what we need to do here at Nutanix in doing the right thing for our customers to innovate and win in the market. That’s what I’m focused on.

That’s so interesting that you two friends are now leading two software giants. How do you think that came to be?

I would just say, the industry itself is a relatively small industry, right? We’ve all been in this business for a long time. I’ve been in this industry for 30-plus years and over those years I’ve built up relationships with many people at many different companies. It’s just nice to see good people being recognized and having the opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

With your first full quarter as CEO under your belt, what’s one area you feel like you still need to improve and one area where Nutanix is doing well?

In terms of things that Nutanix is doing very well, customer delight and the focus on the customer. We now have 19,000 customers that like what we do, they enjoy doing business with us, they like the simplicity and the robustness of our products, and the ease of doing business with us. I would also say that the innovation is very much here. Those are some really good things here.

In terms of things we have to do more of going forward, we’ve traditionally had an on-premises focus—that’s how the company got started with HCI [hyperconverged infrastructure]. Going forward, we need to evolve and become this hybrid, multi-cloud company. That’s where we have to go, and we need to do more of that going forward. We also need to be more disciplined in our ability to set up a set of priorities and executing on that set of priorities in a very focused manner.

Which OEMs are you seeing the fastest growth with?

I would say HPE clearly is the one that’s been growing the fastest for us overall in terms of the OEM relationships for us. Clearly Dell continues and I would say Dell is more a fulfillment [relationship] as we partner together and customers want to land our solution in Dell hardware—Dell supports that. So I would say HPE and Lenovo, to the extent that they are in markets where they are strong continue to be, from a server perspective, very good partners for us. So I would probably say those are the two big ones.

What are you doing to elevate your channel partners, and where should their focus be in the second half of 2021?

Look, the way to scale the business if you want to scale big is through partners. We want our partners to come along with us in the journey and the journey our customers are in to get to subscription. This is where the industry is moving to. This is what our customers want. We would love our partners to actually sell our whole portfolio. Many of our partners have very much focused on our core, but we have a growing portfolio of emerging products that are doing very well. They fit more of our customers’ needs and their multi-cloud needs.

I’ve said this before, but we don’t have a large services organization. We don’t intend to build a large services organization. So there are a ton of opportunities for our partners to deliver valued-added services. We’re not going to compete with them. We’re going to enable them to do so, so together we can create a lot more value. We also want to enable our partners to drive and close deals independently—that should increase velocity for both the partner and for us as we go forward.

Is the channel fully up to speed in terms of Nutanix’s newer market offerings or is there still an education process happening?

I think it‘s very much the latter, there is still an education process. Most of our channel partners are very much selling our core offering, our core HCI, that‘s what they’re most familiar with. These newer products such as Era, File, Flow and so forth are relatively new to our partners and only now are they building up their capabilities to be able to sell that. I think the initial product market fit for some of these products was delivered very much by us. Now that we are deploying [and] actually scaling these products that we have product market fit on—this is where the partners come in and play a very significant role.

So we are certainly investing in building up the capabilities and enabling them to transact and build up their competencies in these emerging products. And we see there’s a future opportunity for leveraging the partners there as well.

What’s your message to channel partners?

We’d love for the channel to initiate more deals for us and we are,, of course rewarding our channel partners for doing that. We’re enabling our partners to transact more autonomously. All of those are very much part of what we’re focused on.

We love our channel partners. We want them to be successful building their businesses on top of the Nutanix platform. We want them to go take everything we’ve got, take it to market and we’ll help each other.