Nutanix Seeks Partners To Help With Scale-Out Data Center Vision


Nutanix, a startup championing the "scale-out" approach to data center infrastructure used by Amazon, Facebook and Google, moved to a new office last month to accommodate its fast-growing staff. After Gartner listed Nutanix in its "Cool Vendors in the Server Market" report last week, the resumes are likely to continue flooding in.

Now Nutanix, flush with more than $71 million from three rounds of venture capital funding from Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Battery Ventures and Goldman Sachs, is stepping up efforts to build out its North American partner ranks.

"We are looking for new partners with expertise in virtualization who see the advantages of providing their clients with a next-generation data center solution," Steve Kaplan, vice president of channels and strategic sales, told CRN in a recent interview.

Nutanix, founded in 2009, currently has roughly 170 partners worldwide -- including many coming over from the EMC channel. Sudeesh Nair, vice president of sales at Nutanix, says healthy margins are commonplace for VARs that come on board.

"We have taken every deal to partners from day one, and they have been averaging between 20 and 30 percent of margin," Nair said.

[Related: EMC's New Partner Program Motto: 'More Simple, Predictable, Profitable']

Nutanix's flagship converged infrastructure appliance melds a set amount of CPU, memory and storage in a 2U rack-mounted chassis, or "building block," using commodity hardware. Each individual appliance houses up to four individual server nodes and can run virtualization software just like a regular server. As a customer grows, they simply add additional building blocks.

Nutanix doesn't consider itself a storage vendor per se, but through its partnership with flash storage vendor Fusion-io, is positioning its appliance as a cheaper alternative to storage area networks and network-attached storage. Nutanix's proprietary technology is software that balances I/O traffic across the different building blocks, and within individual ones.

What separates Nutanix from the pack, according to Elias Khnaser, CTO at Sigma Solutions, a San Antonio-based partner, is that it lets customers deploy just the amount of capacity they need.

"I see Nutanix as grid-type architecture meets cloud, with the ability to scale by nodes," he told CRN.

Vic Verola, vice president of sales for Vicom Computer Services, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based solution provider, says Nutanix is also an effective catalyst for stalled virtual desktop infrastructure projects.

"VDI environments are very difficult to size correctly. With Nutanix, you can use building blocks and scale out in a linear fashion," Verola said. "You never have to worry if you are sizing properly, which helps during pre-sales discussions."

Nutanix recently moved from Santa Clara, Calif., to a new office in San Jose, Calif., to accommodate a staff that's doubled in size from 100 to 200 since the beginning of the year. The startup has hinted at IPO plans, and after Fusion-io went public in 2011, such a move wouldn't be surprising.

PUBLISHED ON MAY 7, 2013