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Next for Nutanix: Applications, Public Cloud Support, Google Partnership

Nutanix plans to pull applications into its hyperconverged infrastructure platform and make it possible to extend that platform to all three major public clouds, the company revealed this week at its .NEXT conference in Washington, D.C.

The additions to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform will include the new products Nutanix Calm, for application management, and Nutanix Xi Cloud Services, which will allow Nutanix software to be consumed as a service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure.

Although Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey presided over Calm and Xi demos on the conference stage, neither product will be available for a while. Calm is slated for availability in the fourth quarter of this year. Xi is only planned to be available initially as a specific application for disaster recovery, with an "early access" technology release set for early 2018.

Pandey positioned the melding of Xi with Nutanix's on-premises products as the path that the company is following toward hybrid computing. "That's the big announcement of this conference, but obviously it's a multi-year journey for us," he said during a conference kickoff keynote Wednesday night.

While all three major public clouds are part of the Xi plan, most emphasis at .NEXT on Wednesday was on GCP because Nutanix and Alphabet, Google's parent company, announced a strategic alliance. Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, took the stage to discuss the three components of the deal, which are GCP integration with Calm and Xi and a joint solution for Kubernetes, Google Container Engine and Nutanix's Acropolis Container Services.

Shares of Nutanix jumped more than 7 percent Wednesday on news of the Alphabet partnership. Nutanix, founded in 2009, went public last September. Fruits of that alliance aren't expected to arrive until the first quarter of calendar 2018, with planned availability of the integration of Nutanix Calm with GCP as the first deliverable.

Calm and Xi would extend Nutanix's current offering, which is like operating system software for a software-defined datacenter that brings together server, storage, virtualization and networking resources on integrated hardware. Nutanix currently delivers its on-premises-only hyperconverged infrastructure offerings in three ways: as its own, branded dedicated appliances, such as the NX-1000; as dedicated partner appliances from Dell and Lenovo; or as software running on approved Cisco UCS or HPE ProLiant hardware. On Tuesday, Nutanix and IBM also announced that Nutanix would be coming to IBM OpenPOWER LC Systems.

What Xi would do is allow users to take existing Cloud OS constructs from within the current Nutanix environment and use them in AWS, GCP and Azure. The company contends that the approach will eventually allow for rapid movement of traditional enterprise applications -- think SQL Server or Oracle database deployments -- from Nutanix private clouds into the public clouds, and back as needed.

"What if we could help enterprises move to the public cloud but preserve the tooling, preserve the economics, preserve the SLAs?" said Nutanix Chief Product Officer Sunil Potti in a Tuesday morning keynote.

Potti called disaster recovery the biggest use case for the approach and said it will improve the process of testing disaster recovery for enterprises and reduce the need for secondary datacenters. "You shouldn't have to worry about your secondary datacenters going forward. In the next few years, frankly, you should be out of the secondary datacenter business," he predicted.

Potti also focused on Calm during his keynote, calling it Nutanix's "first strategic product beyond Acropolis and Prism," which are the company's operating system and its management technologies, respectively.

"Every portion of our workflows are now coming top-down from an apps-down perspective," he said in describing Calm, which starts with a marketplace interface showing a menu of applications users can start with. Among the applications in demos and slides were numerous Microsoft applications, Aviatrix, AWS, Citrix, Hadoop, Docker, Cassandra, MySQL and MondoDB.

Organizations would use a visual UI to create app blueprints that capture elements of an application, including virtual machines, related binaries, a sequence of operations and configurations. Then the blueprint could be deployed on any supported platform, be it within a Nutanix private cloud using Nutanix AHV Virtualization or on a public cloud platform.

According to Potti, the portability will create the ability to compare pricing, service levels and scalability among deployment targets. "Imagine your CIO going to your business and saying, look, you can go to whatever [platform]. Tell us your [scalability requirements], SLA and cost and let the system tell us AHV, Azure, AWS, Google," he said. If the user is considering AWS, he explained, "You'll be able to log into Calm, log into AWS, into that account, and it will scrape AWS usage, model the workload with heuristics around workload and cost, [and say] 'This is what it would cost. Do you want to migrate?'"

That ability to make a runtime decision based on scale and cost about what platform to deploy on, Potti argued, "is the real power of Calm."

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 29, 2017 at 9:09 AM