Cumulus And Nutanix Hyper-Converged Partnership: 5 Things To Know

CRN breaks down five things partners and customers need to know about the Nutanix and Cumulus Networks’ new hyper-converged infrastructure partnership.


The HCI Market Impact Nutanix And Cumulus Networks Will Make

A major hyper-converged infrastructure partnership has been struck between HCI pioneer Nutanix and open networking and Linux star Cumulus Networks.

San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix has been a major player in the hyper-converged space for years and is dubbed the leader in HCI in Gartner’s new Magic Quadrant for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure. Mountain View, Calif.-based Cumulus is an open networking software standout that runs on Linux aimed at displacing proprietary network solutions.

The strategic partnership will focus on deep technology integrations hoping to boost both vendors in the fast-growing hyper-converged market place. Here are five things customers and partners need to know about the Nutanix and Cumulus relationship and what it means for the industry.

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The Solution

The companies have integrated the Cumulus Linux operating system and NetQ network monitoring software with Nutanix’s Prism centralized management system.

Nutanix customers will now be able to provision and manage storage, server and network recourse through a single user interface, meaning the network portion will no longer be separated. The joint solution looks to bring a fully automated and highly distributed network fabric to hyperconverged workloads. Cumulus NetQ is deployed on switches and Nutanix’s AHV nodes to provide a simplified operational model for HCI.

The new offering will shorten the time required to stand up Nutanix clusters, increase network reliability and end-to-end visibility, automate VLAN provisioning, and improve the user experience through a single interface via Nutanix Prism.

Why HCI Networking Is So Important

Although hyper-converged infrastructure simplifies compute and storage, networking can still be complicated. Cumulus is automating the networking process of Nutanix HCI through Cumulus’ switching fabric.

A major trend over the past year in the hyper-converged infrastructure market is providers seeking to create a seamless networking integration in their offerings. For example, Dell EMC have tightly integrated with VMware to provide network virtualization for its HCI offerings. Similarly, Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired software-defined networking specialist Plexxi for this exact reason last year.

Cumulus Linux is giving Nutanix customers a flexible network OS design to support modern, cloud-scale network architectures.

Common Hardware

Cumulus provides software-only solutions, while Nutanix has been morphing itself over the past 18 months to become a software-only vendor. One big synergy between the companies are a set of common hardware partners who run their software on top.

These vendor partners are some of the biggest names in the servers and storage industry which include Dell EMC, Lenovo, Mellanox and Supermicro. Already having the same vendor partnerships allow for streamlining procurements, meaning customers can easily add the Nutanix and Cumulus software on top of their preferred hardware.

Nutanix And Cumulus Battling Cisco And VMware

Cumulus provides a Linux operating system for data center network switches that directly competes against Cisco and others such as Arista Networks and Juniper Networks. Although Nutanix partners with Dell Technologies for HCI, Dell owns a majority stake in VMware, which whom Nutanix competes against on the software front.

Nutanix and VMware have been trading barbs over the past few months, with Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey recently telling CRN that VMware is allegedly using bullying tactics to persuade Nutanix customers to jump ship to VMware. The Nutanix-Cumulus partnership is aimed at elevating both vendors from a HCI and software competitive standpoint.

Looking at IDC’s most recent second quarter hyper-converged software market share numbers, Nutanix and VMware are neck and neck with Nutanix owning 34.2 percent share following by VMware at 34.1 percent. Nutanix and VMware were also the top leaders in Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant for Hyper-Converged Infrastructure.

What The Leaders Had To Say

Cumulus CEO Josh Leslie said both companies share the belief that every enterprise needs an open, modern data center that is simple to operate and designed to scale.

“This partnership delivers on the promise of hyperconverged systems which have been limited by proprietary networking solutions,” said Leslie in a statement. “With open infrastructure, Cumulus empowers businesses to break free from the traditional, siloed approach and drive their businesses forward. The powerful combination of Cumulus Linux and NetQ with Nutanix delivers the ultimate flexibility to build hyperconverged solutions on standardized, cost effective hardware.”

Nutanix’s Sridhar Devarapalli, general manager of Networking and Cloud Services, said in a statement that Cumulus is a “powerful” partner to have on its side as it looks to offer open networking as part of HCI.

“With the ability to customize, simplify and leverage open networking standards, customers can build for architectures to scale without performance bottlenecks,” said Devarapalli. “As a result of this integration, Nutanix users will have a flexible, modern, and open network architecture leading to a better customer experience.”

The new joint systems are currently available.