Yesterday, I visited Nutanix HQ in San Jose. It was definitely interesting – when I was in the rest room, when I was wandering around, many employees did a visible double-take, like I was Satan :-)
This is me with Sudeesh Nair (Nutanix Global Sales leader, and fierce believer :-) and Dheeraj Pandey (Nutanix Founder, CEO), and I.
This picture and others with some other Nutanix people started to circulate… and people asked…
What the what what?
The answer is simple. I’m NOT going to shoot Dell XC. We will partner. A great business will continue to grow. Customers can move forward with confidence, we are NOT going to screw them. W will also DOUBLE DOWN on our portfolio – and have an opinion – if you are all about vSphere, start with VxRail and VxRack SDDC. If you want options – we have options :-)
As of Sept 7th, when Dell Technologies was born – as the leader of the expanded Converged Platforms and Solutions Division, Dell XC (the offer built out of the Dell/Nutanix partnership) is part of our combined HCI portfolio – joining VxRail and VxRack.
This is simple, but I always strive to do the same things publicly and privately – and think about the industry and the customer through the broader lens. We reflected on the right thing to do as Dell Technologies came together, and the answer was simple: “don’t punch your customers in the face”. I’m consistent, and we do what we say.
There is no doubt that Nutanix is a huge part of the HCI market, and even if not the one that got the ball rolling, certainly one of the main forces.
- As is now public in their updated S1, they have roughly 3800 customers (and if you want to find out more about revenue, burn rate and more – it’s all here). There are more than 1000 happy Dell XC customers. Wow, that’s a lot – and the Dell XC customers represent a huge proportion.
- For a relative comparison, suffice it to say that there are fewer VxRail customers – but closing in fast. After all, VxRail has existed since February, Nutanix has been at this for 6+ years. I suspect that VxRail will surpass the whole Nutanix by mid 2017, and sooner if you include VxRack. I could be wrong, we’ll see :-)
- For another relative comparison, there are more than 5000 VSAN customers, and many hundreds of PB of ScaleIO deployed – for customers that have a more “DIY” approach than buying a hyper-converged appliance or rack-scale system approach.
Now, I told Sudeesh and Dheeraj (and their teams) the same thing I’m saying now: stay cool, and be pragmatic.
Previously Dell was a one-offer HCI player. No matter what the customer need, the answer was “Dell XC”.
That’s not how things are going to work going forward. I’ve said it on stage at the Think Ahead conference (with Dheeraj). I’ve said it on Virtual Geek (here). I said it to the Nutanix team in their office, and over dinner last night:
- When a customer has standardized on vSphere, our opinion is that they are best served with VxRail and it’s bigger brother VxRack SDDC. Why? Simple:
- VxRail is the only HCI Appliance, and VxRack SDDC the only HCI Rack Scale system which are an extension of their standard – vSphere.
- VxRail is the only HCI Appliance, and VxRack SDDC the only HCI Rack Scale system that are jointly engineered with VMware. One team, one offer. Synchronous with the vSphere, VSAN, vRealize, NSX roadmap. That stack is strong, and getting stronger every day.
- VxRail is the only HCI Appliance, and VxRack SDDC the only HCI Rack Scale system that have a single support model with VMware with finger pointing an impossibility (seriously, does any customer want to get in the middle of a multi-vendor fight when they need support?)
- VxRail and VxRack SDDC will double down deep integration of the whole stack, inclusive of Horizon, vRealize, VIO, VIC. They are the ULTIMATE vertically integrated, VMware focused HCI Appliance and Rack Scale system.
- When a customer doesn’t like vSphere, who want less tight vSphere integration, or wants more choice – we bring the strongest set of choices:
- VxRack Neutrino – for customers who want a very opinionated thin and light Cloud Native optimized IaaS. Nothing lighter, nothing more open-source centric.
- VxRack FLEX – for customers who are scaling insanely big, and what an system, but one that has a lot of variation of possible workloads. By definition – this will be the least “tightly integrated”.
- Dell XC – for customers who like what Nutanix brings. Anyone who says “Nutanix sux” is clearly wrong and as high as a kite. BTW, anyone who says “VxRail sux” or “VSAN sux” or “ScaleIO sux” is equally wrong and as high as a kite.
And… Some customers want more of a “build it yourself” approach that starts with killer SDS stacks and hardware, but don’t have the full Management and Orchestration stack that is one of the parts that defines HCI.
The new ScaleIO Ready Nodes (more on that next!) for those that want choice and VSAN Ready Nodes (for those who want strong VMware affinity) are for them.
Dell Technologies is a portfolio company – and reflects Michael Dell’s core belief that customers want choice and options. Of course they also want opinionated answers.
We have the broadest, strongest HCI portfolio – PERIOD. If you are a customer who wants SDS and HCI – we are the best place in town. Talk to us.
NOW ZOOM OUT.
The HCI market is in it’s infancy. While for a sales person or product person that focuses on ONE thing only, winning/losing is binary and they can’t see beyond the one transaction in front of them. The larger picture, the customer picture, the market picture is different.
I guarantee that many of those that maniacally are focused on one of the above, paid only on one of the above, or flat out kool-aid drinking fanatical about one of the above – they will be incensed by this post. They are also wrong. Cute, but wrong.
HCI is a $1.5B market right now. We have the revenue, and customer count leading portfolio with VxRail, VxRack, and Dell EMC XC. In the broad sense, Dell XC and VxRail aren’t competitors as much as “business as usual” is the competition. If I do my job right, if my team does their job right, if VMware does their job right, if Nutanix and others do their job right, that $1.5B will be measured in tens of billions in short years.
But there is something even bigger going on.
I am on a mission – Dell Technologies Converged Platform Division, 4000 people strong, WE are on a mission - to make the Private Cloud part of Hybrid Cloud easier – for the customer aligned with VMware. For the customers aligned with Microsoft. For the customers who don’t want a vertically integrated stack. If we can make it as simple to deploy, lifecycle, and offer it in consumption economic models like AWS – the market is measured in hundreds of billions.
Interesting times ahead, and Dell Technologies will lead the way!
On another note – Dheeraj and I were reminiscing about when we first met. It was more than 13 years ago over lunch on Castro St. in Mountain View. That day, he came to visit the startup I was part of at the time for an interview. That startup, Allocity, EMC acquired, and started my 12 year career at a company that I love. Now I’m part of something new and awesome – Dell Technologies, and I love it already.
Moral of the story? Be good. Be passionate, but don’t be a fanatic. Focus on the customer. Don’t bear grudges. You never know when an enemy will be a friend – so make friends, not enemies.