Nutanix CEO Pandey Talks ‘Standing Up’ To VMware And ‘Archaic’ vTax

“Somebody had to respond to this bullying. The customers felt a little helpless because obviously they are running a business,” said Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey, regarding his recent ‘Stop Being A Bully, VMware!’ blog post.


Taking A Stand

Nutanix founder and CEO Dheeraj Pandey says he needed to take a stand against alleged bullying tactics from VMware towards Nutanix customers.

Pandey told CRN that Nutanix customers have reached out to the hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer after being contacted via LinkedIn by VMware’s chief operating officer Sanjay Poonen. VMware’s COO messaged customers in response to Nutanix’s recent marketing campaign encouraging business to stop paying virtualization taxes that features quotes from several Nutanix customers. VMware declined to comment on the matter. VMware, which is part of Dell Technologies, both partners and competes with Nutanix such as in the hypervisor market.

In a recent post from Pandey, dubbed ‘Stop Being A Bully, VMware!’, the CEO posted a message that a Nutanix customer received from Poonen that said, “I wanted to let you know that your name and your company’s brand is being used in a vitriolic anti-VMware and anti-Dell campaign by Nutanix,” referring to Nutanix’s marketing campaign. “We totally respect that customers might pick different technologies, and maybe you prefer Nutanix for hyperconvergence in your IT systems, and in your partner practice, over VMware. Yet … this ad campaign is a frontal attack on BOTH VMware and Dell, and they are using your company brand in this vitriolic campaign. … I would humbly ask if you can ask for your name to be removed from this vitriolic Nutanix campaign.”

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Pandey talks to CRN about his message to VMware.

What spurred you to write your ‘Stop Being A Bully, VMware!’ post?

It was born out of these emails that the customers were actually starting to send us saying, ‘I feel like this [message from VMware] is oppressive.’ Somebody had to respond to this bullying. The customers felt a little helpless because obviously they are running a business. At some level, if someone says, ‘Look you either behave or else,’ and all of a sudden there are ultimatums -- it’s that thing that gave rise to this blog of mine. I said, ‘Look, people can’t just take advantage of other people behind closed doors, behind these emails that on one hand sound very nice, but on the other hand have all these vague threats in them.’ It’s just not right. Somebody’s got to fight on behalf of the customer. The rest of my blog is putting it all together. I did it in a matter of three or four hours.

What made you so upset about VMware reaching out to businesses?

Because it was unfair and unjust. And these customers, who just can’t swipe out a Dell hardware or VMware software or whatever, they are all just trying to do the right thing for their business. When they speak up, these things happen. On Reddit, for example, these things you can’t do much about because people are anonymous. It’s a fair place that keeps vendors honest, company’s honest, because you can’t report customers or threaten folks who are commenting on things. Then all of a sudden you apply it to a non-Reddit platform and here comes an email that says, ‘You better behave or else.’

What are you saying to these Nutanix customers about it?

I tell them don’t worry about it. Ignore the ultimatums. Common sense will prevail. At some level, all companies are vulnerable at the core. When they start acting extremely heavy-handed, it doesn’t take long before the rebellion begins.

Has this motivated you at all?

Yes. At the end of the day most companies that go on to become meaningful to a customer-base overtime, they are stirred by something. … When you take a step back, these things will probably work out just fine for companies who are at the receiving end. It’s just that you just have to have the courage of standing up to these things.

What is one of your focused areas on VMware this year?

Our strategy of desktop-as-a-service, we’re doing it on a clean slate. The architecture is cloud-native, Nutanix Frame, is the solution that will really be a multi-cloud desktop-as-a-service. It’s very different than VMware Horizon. In fact, it works on-premise and off-premise, and it doesn’t pay the strategy tax of a hypervisor. We’ve been telling VMware, ‘You know what? Horizon is a beautiful product. Make it work on other hypervisors. Why wouldn’t you? You’re not just a vSphere company, you’re also a Horizon VDI app company. And that app needs more oxygen. Let’s have it for other hypervisors, just like how Microsoft started doing it with their applications. But don’t wait too long before it’s too late.’ … Companies have to keep growing into new layers of the stack and start thinking about the customer and someone else’s platform which could be just as delightful when coupled with your apps.

What’s your thoughts on the virtualization tax, or what you call ‘vTax’?

The idea of paying for a hypervisor, it’s pretty archaic now. In the public cloud, you don’t pay for hypervisor and you don’t upgrade a hypervisor explicitly as a customer. Those things are supposed to be invisible. Similarly, if you just virtualize compute and continue to use a three-tier stack, you’re still paying a big tax because it’s not interesting just to virtualized compute by itself – you have to virtualize storage, security, networking – and bring it all together without six different panes of glass. You know that by itself is a big, big tax on virtualization today, where you have all these panes of glass and different products that don’t talk to each other. How do you bring them all under one umbrella where a single generalist, maybe a cloud operations generalist, can manage an entire infrastructure. In this hybrid cloud world, why would you want to take legacy tools and legacy software into a new world of the public cloud? … That is also a tax that you continue to pay in a new world that is supposed to be a place where infrastructure is invisible.