Nutanix has used its annual .NEXT conference to advance the argument that public clouds can be wastefully expensive places in which to run workloads – unless they're managed by Nutanix so they can be returned to another environment at your convenience.
That may seem a somewhat brazen argument, given Nutanix has spent the last couple of years touting deals that ensure its software stack runs in AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM's clouds.
Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami made his argument by referencing analysis from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz asserting that public cloud has seduced business with the lure of on-demand infrastructure, paying only for rightsized rigs, and relieving organisations of many IT chores.
But Andreessen also argues that cloud is expensive, and the costs it adds to operations suppress company value - to the tune of $100 billion and perhaps as much as $500 billion.
Nutanix and Ramaswami like those numbers very much. The CEO thinks they make a case for reconsidering when and if to use hyperscale clouds. Cue much discussion of the importance of being able to repatriate workloads from the cloud when it makes sense to do so.
As the purveyor of a hybrid cloud platform that can run in many environments, Nutanix stands to benefit from repatriation – whether you fancy bringing your IT in-house or just the chance to take advantage of different clouds when it makes sense to do so.
The hyperconverged upstart has added a few things to its platform to advance its cause. Enhanced network virtualization promises to allow virtual private clouds that span multiple actual clouds, and will in future add microsegmentation services to automate development of security policy based on workload behaviours. Failover to public clouds is an option Nutanix feels has appeal as organisations review their disaster recovery readiness.
Integration with security vendor Qualys will help to automate patching, while Nutanix's software-defined storage wares are now better at spotting and deflecting ransomware.
The company also claims to have improved its ability to run analytics workloads.
A deeper partnership with Citrix was also announced at the conference. That will see the application publishing vendor's apps able to run across multiple Nutanix-tended clouds.
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Getting closer to Citrix will be welcome news to some customers, as will the enhancements to Nutanix's platform.
But the fact remains that Nutanix is the challenger in the hybrid cloud market –– and maybe not the most important one. Amazon Web Services is increasingly reaching out of its cloud and into almost any other location a computer might be found, IBM is nowhere near done figuring out what to do with OpenShift, Microsoft's hybrid efforts are firmly pushing Azure Stack HCI, and Google is well under way defining Anthos and hybrid Kubernetes.
Google and AWS will find it hard to argue against clouds as the best place to do everything, but can still – along with Microsoft and IBM – make the same points Nutanix advances about the importance of workload mobility. And they can deliver on them.
Nutanix is standing for something distinct in a busy market, which is laudable. It can point to 20,000 happy customers and increasing financial maturity as the fruits of its labours. ®