Nutanix, Cisco say buyers will get the best of them both

There's enough overlap that the deal works already. Next: cloud networks and maybe a storage push

Cisco has become Nutanix's closest hardware partner – meaning integration of the hyperconverged upstart's stack and Cisco's UCS servers will be stronger, sooner, as their partnership gathers steam.

The two announced a "strategic partnership" in August, when Cisco revealed it would resell Nutanix's stack on its UCS servers. A few weeks later, the real reason for the partnership became plain: Cisco discontnued its Hyperflex hyperconverged stack, and anointed Nutanix as its preferred vendor of such software.

The Register chatted to reps of the happy couple about their relationship this week. Nutanix's senior veep of product management, Thomas Cornely, told us that his company and Cisco have a "much deeper tech partnership in terms of early engagement" compared to other hardware makers.

That matters because while Nutanix started life bundling its stack with hardware, it backed away from that position years ago and now partners with server makers. That arrangement means it needs to tune its stack to work with each vendor's hardware. Earlier access to Cisco kit – and closer work – should make UCS an appealing prospect.

So might planned integration between Nutanix's stack and Cisco's Intersight cloud manager – a work in progress that Jeremy Foster, Cisco's senior veep and general manager for networking and compute, said could mean "We can bring a network in a way that has never been integrated before."

The two haven't had time for the fruits of those labors to ripen, but Cornely and Foster told The Register they believe the team-up is already functional, as each vendor has partners familiar with both parties' technologies.

Those partners, they opined, are excited to sell Nutanix on UCS and capable of doing so. Other partners will be trained in due course.

Foster said in future, Cisco hopes the tie-up will help the networking giant to sell UCS servers for more storage workloads. Cisco has dabbled in storage over the years, but stopped well short of producing dedicated hardware. The UCS S-Series storage servers, which can house up to 56 disk drives, are probably the closest thing to a storage array Cisco has ever built.

For now, Cisco and Nutanix's arrangement focuses on the X-series blade server. But Cornely told The Register Nutanix certainly likes the look of the S-Series and sees them as good fit for the vendor's recent disaggregation of compute and storage nodes.

Foster forecast the evolving Ciscanix relationship will soon be championed by global system integrators. He also thinks managed services providers are a fine target for the alliance, with Nutanix-as-a-service or Nutanix-powered clouds in prospect. ®

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