Nutanix vs VMware blog war descends into 'he said, she said' farce

There’s a way to end this, guys – just release your test results


Round two in the VMware-versus-Nutanix blog war has opened up with a full-frontal assault by a Nutanix exec, who claims Nutanix wants to be open about its performance advantages over VSAN, but is prevented from going public by VMware’s end user license agreements, or EULAs.

In particular, Nutanix claims, EVO:RAIL sales are so low the product is close to being dropped. Also, VSAN sales are low, so it's no surprise that VMware is attacking its main competitor, Nutanix.

VMware's opening blast

Round one was represented by Chuck Hollis, VMware’s chief strategist and, in effect, social media evangelist, with a quartet of blogs saying Nutanix hyperconverged appliances under-performed and were over-priced compared with VMware VSAN and VSAN-based products.

He couldn’t share the performance data, sadly, because Nutanix's EULAs forbid it, much as VMware's EULAs prevents customers releasing VMware products’ performance in public.

At the time Nutanix was holding a worldwide user conference and didn’t respond officially, although there were many Nutanix employee and supporter comments on Chuck’s blogs.

Nutanix riposte

Now that Nutanix's .NEXT conference is over, Lukas Lundell, Nutanix's global director for solutions and performance engineering, has published his own blog response in which he roundly declares:

It’s our real life version of HBO’s Silicon Valley, and Hooli, Gavin, Chuck, and EMC will stop at nothing to steal, stifle, and stall innovation to protect their monopoly.

Lawyer fracases, intentional misdirection, blatant misinformation, and “brain-rapes”. It’s all on the table.

Lundell argues that VMware is attacking Nutanix because of VMware's own weaknesses. In summary:

  • Nutanix is bringing [Amazon-like] “one-click” simplicity to managing on-premise infrastructure and bridging it with the public cloud. Chuck, EMC, and VMware can’t retrofit their management stack to meet the demands of this new landscape: it needs a complete re-write.
  • VMware vCentre is old and complex, with 30 distinct steps needed to set up a resilient vCenter data centre deployment. The Nutanix equivalent is much more simple with its virtualisation management facility pre-installed and ready to run.
  • VMware has been trying to move from a single database and server model for vCenter, to a scalable and distributed management fabric for some time, and hasn’t managed it. Nutanix is already there.
  • EVO:RAIL is struggling and close to getting dumped. VSAN has seen a bit more success but it isn’t a substantial part of VMware’s business, or a replacement for EMC’s declining sales.

Because of these weaknesses, VMware can’t figure out how to test a distributed system. Ergo, the testing described by Hollis in his blogs is not relevant. So, Nutanix is “releasing our own set of tests, ones we are confident everyone would agree are more realistic and representative of how a customer utilises a hyperconverged system".

These are tests of Nutanix's product, not comparative tests against VSAN, because, we're told, VMware’s EULA prevents their publication.

As for Nutanix's EULA preventing VMware’s Nutanix testing results from being made public, Lundell said:

We offered to remove restrictions in our EULA on testing so that VMware and EMC could publish their results, if VMware and EMC were willing to remove similar restrictions in their EULA and allow Nutanix to publish our own competitive testing.

He blogs: “Chuck and his lawyers declined,” and "we are not allowed to release any of our test results on VSAN.”

Hollis extra

Coincidentally, Chuck Hollis published a new blog “On Competing” also on June 30. He describes his blog approach as focussing on the customer, not indulging in personal attacks, believing in the product, and allowing unfettered comments, apart from abusive ones.

He criticises Nutanix's Lundell for not doing the same:

Don't simply delete comments that you don't personally agree with, and I'm looking at you @LukasLundell !!

Regarding testing, he doesn’t answer Lundell’s point directly but does say: “We have a vested interest in making sure that published tests use reasonable methodologies, even if we don't look the best all the time. Even if I'm restricted from publishing the reams of comparison data I've got, having it all at my fingertips makes me very confident in making my assertions.”

Our two pennies' worth

El Reg thinks that both Nutanix and VMware would do their respective customers and prospects a good turn if they simply allowed each other to release their respective comparative tests.

Let’s have a mutual set-aside of EULA restrictions for this purpose.

As there are no industry standard or independently-verified test results available, and both suppliers say their tests show the other’s product is inferior, then publish the test results. If you both believe in them, publish them.

And if you can’t come to an agreement to do this, having both said you would if the other relaxed its EULA restrictions, then just keep schtum about it in future.

Anything you say about your comparative tests can’t be verified and is just marketing, just “he said” versus “we said” and as such is pretty much worthless.

Blogs by supplier execs are a facet of marketing; some more so, some less so. They stand or fall by the reputation and character of the blogger.

If they each try to claim the moral high ground of an issue, the result can be like watching two preachers of opposing faiths having an argument. My God is better than yours. It isn’t edifying or in any way enhancing for either company. ®

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