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Nutanix is a hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer that markets its technology as a building block for private clouds.
The company was founded in 2009 by Dheeraj Pandey, Mohit Aron and Ajeet Singh, and it is based in San Jose, Calif.
Nutanix appliances converge storage, compute and virtualization into one box. Initially targeting VMware customers, Nutanix branched out after VMware released its own Virtual SAN hyper-converged platform. The vendor's products now support Microsoft Hyper-V and KVM hypervisors, as well as VMware vSphere and Nutanix's own KVM-based Acropolis hypervisor (AHV).
Nutanix branded appliances consist of the vendor's software stack packaged on Super Micro servers. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners Dell and Lenovo rebrand Nutanix software on their x86 servers, and Nutanix channel partners package the vendor's software on Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) servers. IBM also has an OEM deal with Nutanix to sell its software on Power servers.
Nutanix came out of stealth in 2011 with Complete Cluster, one of the first hyper-converged storage products on the market. In June 2013, Complete Cluster was rebranded as the Virtual Computing Platform, and two new configurations with smaller and larger capacities were added to the line.
In its first two years, company revenue surpassed $100 million. In June 2014, Nutanix entered into an OEM deal with Dell that allowed Nutanix software to be sold on Dell PowerEdge servers.
In December 2015, Nutanix filed for an initial public offering, reporting revenue of $241.1 million for the year. Though the IPO took nine months to complete, Nutanix revenue grew 125% to $166.8 million in its first quarter as a public company. However, losses were also high at $162.2 million.
In 2017, Nutanix leadership focused its business model on the company's software. While the vendor will still sell appliances, it intends to continue selling software on any vendor's x86 hardware and to count revenue only from its software business.
In June 2017, Nutanix announced a partnership with Google that enables customers to deploy and manage workloads across Google Cloud Platform and its in-house hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) through a single interface.
Major products and their important features
Despite a push to focus primarily on being a software company, Nutanix products include both software and turnkey appliances. Here are some of the vendor's major products and services:
- The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform ships with VMware ESX or Red Hat KVM and includes hard disk drives and solid-state drives. It also provides storage features, such as tiering, compression and deduplication.
- Nutanix Enterprise Cloud converges server, storage, virtualization and networking into one software-defined platform. The Enterprise Cloud Platform is scalable, and it's available as a turnkey appliance or a software-only platform.
- Nutanix Calm, part of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform, handles application automation and lifecycle management across public and private clouds.
- Xi Cloud Services are an extension of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform. Xi Cloud Services deliver a public cloud environment that can be automatically configured and provisioned. The Xi Disaster Recovery Service enables centralized DR management, one-click failover and nondisruptive disaster recovery (DR) testing.
- Nutanix X-Ray is the vendor's automated testing and benchmarking tool. X-Ray can simulate the effects of system failures, software upgrades and other common scenarios to enable better DR planning.
- Nutanix Acropolis software includes its hypervisor, file and block storage services, data protection, and network and security features. Acropolis is available in Starter, Pro and Ultimate editions, which vary based on the size of the deployment and the number of workloads.
- Nutanix Prism software uses machine learning technology to help manage, monitor and analyze the vendor's hyper-converged infrastructure.
Although Nutanix was the first hyper-converged vendor to make a big splash in the market, it is far from alone now.
Dell EMC not only sells Nutanix software in its XC Series on PowerEdge servers, but it competes with Nutanix with a vSAN-based VxRail appliance from VMware -- which it owns. In mid-2017, Dell EMC passed Nutanix as the hyper-converged market leader, according to research firm IDC.
HPE and Cisco made acquisitions in 2017 to bolster their HCI products. HPE acquired early Nutanix competitor SimpliVity for $650 million, and it now sells SimpliVity software on ProLiant servers. While Nutanix software supports HPE servers, HPE has no relationship with Nutanix, and it recommends its own SimpliVity software on ProLiant servers.
Storage vendor NetApp entered the HCI market in 2017, using its SolidFire Element OS as the basis of the all-flash NetApp HCI product. NetApp HCI is technically considered a disaggregated, software-defined architecture, but it can be deployed for use cases similar to HCI and uses the same high-density unit appliance as Nutanix and other HCI vendors.
Nutanix's Google partnership puts it in competition with Amazon Web Services, which has partnered with VMware to target an enterprise market with on-premises workloads. Lenovo, which partners with Nutanix and other HCI software vendors, also sells hyper-converged appliances.
Other HCI competitors include smaller companies, such as Maxta, Pivot3 and Scale Computing.