Nutanix’s New CEO On Leaving VMware To Build $2B Cloud Star
‘VMware has a very broad portfolio. Nutanix is smaller, nimble and has the ability to execute fast and is very focused,’ says new Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami in an interview with CRN.
Rajiv Ramaswami: ‘It’s About Building The Next Billion At Nutanix’
Nutanix’s new President and CEO, Rajiv Ramaswami, plans to drive sales north of $2 billion while at the same time battling his former employer and Nutanix rival, VMware, in the huge and growing hybrid cloud software market for years to come.
“As I looked at Nutanix and my own background, my background is well suited for taking Nutanix into its next growth phase,” said Ramaswami in an interview with CRN. “Nutanix has done a great job going from zero to $1 billion. Now it’s about building the next billion at Nutanix. That’s where my experience in terms of operating at scale as well as my prior technology background in the development area can help Nutanix get there.”
Ramaswami was hired this week as Nutanix’s new president and CEO, a decision hailed by channel partners who said the 30-year industry superstar is the “perfect fit” to boost Nutanix’s market presence and better compete with VMware. Prior to Nutanix, Ramaswami for the past four years was chief operating officer of products and cloud services at VMware, responsible for business units developing products, cloud services and cloud operations.
In an exclusive interview with CRN, Ramaswami talks about his vision for Nutanix, leaving VMware and why channel partners can count on him. “I intend to spend a lot of my time with customers, and with channel partners together with customers as we go and drive and win those deals together,” he said.
What will you bring over from VMware to help give Nutanix a leg up?
First of all, Nutanix has always been a best-of-breed player and really a leader. In fact, Nutanix pioneered hyperconverged infrastructure, and Nutanix has been a leader in [Gartner’s Hyperconverged Infrastructure] Magic Quadrant for a while now.
I have the greatest respect for VMware. VMware has a very broad portfolio. Nutanix is smaller, nimble and has the ability to execute fast and is very focused. We are focused on really delivering on hyperconverged infrastructure and making that bridge to helping our customers move to the next hybrid cloud world that they want to go toward. A lot of this is going to be about executing and focusing on our mission, continuing all the while to make sure our customers love what we do and we’re delivering what customers need from us to realize the outcome they want.
Can you double down on Nutanix being nimbler than VMware?
For us, the HCI market and moving to the hybrid cloud market—it’s big. It’s huge. There are going to be multiple players in it. We aim to be a leader in it. We are already a leader in hyperconverged, and HCI goes to hybrid cloud infrastructure. I think we can work to boost our position there as well. We’ve got the fundamental know-how, the technology, the innovation capability, the ability to build products that customers can consume in a very simple way. Now, we’ve coupled that with a go-to-market focus on delivering this in a form that customers can consume much easier.
Can you talk about how customers can consume Nutanix much more easily?
Today, customers can sign short-term contracts with us. We are moving to a subscription model and are well along that journey. Especially, for example, driven by COVID, many of our customers would like to sign shorter-term contracts. Then that helps us build more discipline as well as now build a renewal business over time. Because what we’ve seen here is a history of strong customer loyalty. They like our product and want to keep it. We’re laying the foundation for continued growth over time by doing this.
What attracted you to Nutanix from VMware?
As I looked at Nutanix and my own background, my background is well suited for taking Nutanix into its next growth phase. Nutanix has done a great job going from zero to $1 billion. Now it’s about building the next billion at Nutanix. That’s where my experience in terms of operating at scale as well as my prior technology background in the development area can help Nutanix get there.
As a company itself, Nutanix is well positioned to drive sustained growth, to improve efficiency and to continue to advance leadership in this emerging category, which is hybrid cloud infrastructure. The market itself is huge. There’s no shortage of market opportunity here. For me, it’s a great opportunity to work with the Nutanix team to capitalize on these opportunities and really deliver the company’s next phase of growth and value creation, all while benefiting our customers.
What’s one big thing you bring to the table for Nutanix?
Overall, it’s about what it takes to run a company at scale, looking at balancing what we need to do on the product portfolio side against how we focus on go to market. And execute with discipline on scaling the company from well beyond $1 billion on where we can take it to. That’s the fundamental background of what I bring.
It’s a transformative time for Nutanix, for the company itself and for the industry as a whole. Nutanix has built a strong foundation. It’s based on great innovation, continued innovation, collaboration and building products that really delight the customers. Customers love the products and Nutanix has a very strong culture of doing the right thing in terms of simplicity, security, reliability and truly delighting customers.
Will you be on joint calls with channel partners to help them win over customers?
Absolutely. I intend to spend a lot of my time with customers, and with channel partners together with customers as we go and drive and win those deals together. It’s about really building on each of our strengths here. I think partners are a critical, strategic way for us to [both go after] the market together. I look forward to engaging with both partners and customers together.
What’s your message to channel partners?
Nutanix has always engaged and relied on a great partner ecosystem. We will continue to develop and foster that going forward. We are on a journey here at Nutanix going from a hyperconverged infrastructure provider to more of a software company focused on hybrid cloud infrastructure. We would love our partners to come with us on this journey and help us execute this journey with our customers. I’m excited to work with Nutanix partners.