Following on from the Huawei story last week, here is another example of the emergence of more focused cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings that could create new opportunities for the MSP and channel communities, though this one might take a little longer to move towards that service delivery model.
This one concerns a new partnership between Nutanix and HPE that aims to deliver an integrated hybrid cloud as a Service solution. It brings together the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software with HPE’s range of packaged GreenLake cloud services platforms.
This partnership just might spring the win:win:win it is obviously aiming for. From the HPE perspective it provides its customers with a wider choice of hardware on which to run its fully HPE-managed hybrid cloud. This should also broaden the company’s customer base by making GreenLake an option for current non-HPE users, as Nutanix’s channel partners will be able to directly sell HPE servers along with the Enterprise Cloud software.
Win number two could put Nutanix in a strong position to pitch at being a de facto platform for hyper-converged services, for much the same reasons that intel’s x86 architecture is now the de facto standard environment for data center and cloud services. It already has most of the major applications suites certified to run on it, and the addition of the GreenLake range provides a broad base of core application platforms on which users can then build targeted hybrid cloud services.
Win number three should be for the users, as having a common base infrastructure of hardware, operating environment and applications compatibility across a range of vendors and, increasingly vendors’ specialist channel partners, users can start to concentrate on what they need to achieve in terms of business, rather than fret about what technology they need to consider.
HPE GreenLake could prove to be an interesting choice of partner for Nutanix. It is a curated suite of base business management solutions that map onto a wide range of use cases users will identify with. These include big data tools Hadoop, coupled with either HortonWorks or Cloudera, backup tools from Commvault, EDB’s Postgres database (which then gives users a route through to Oracle applications data), SAP-HANA certified capabilities and finally an Edge Compute capability aimed at scalable IoT applications.
Its one possible downside is that HPE sees GreenLake as it applies to the company’s current market approach: as a concierge-serviced, cloud-alike, on-prem infrastructure supplied and managed by HPE to deliver application-specific services. GreenLake is currently managed directly by HPE – and designed to be delivered on premise or in a co-location facility. So the MSP/channel model is not likely to happen, or at least not happen quickly.
However, though the classic HPE approach will no doubt continue, it will be surprising if the Nutanix channel does not try to open this up once GreenLake is available to it and market opportunities open up. These are tools that are, in a variety of combinations, the basis for the vast majority of (often tightly) targeted business applications that are the meat and drink of the channel systems integrators and MSPs.
Providing training in the necessary management skills should not be beyond the wit of man to set up, particularly as those self-same channel partners are now one of the prime targets seen by Nutanix as the natural home for its Enterprise Cloud Software.
So far as the HPE partnership is concerned that it for the future, however. The initial goal, according to Nutanix VP of Product Marketing Greg Smith is to allow customers to consume Nutanix software in their own data centre, on a flexible payment model.
They will be able to consume new tech software as a managed service with flexible payment terms that match the actual consumption of resources. Second, we're going to introduce a new family of API appliances built with HP servers, that will address all use cases and deliver all business applications. And this will be perfect for joint customers who want that Nutanix experience in delivering all their applications, and have a preference for HP server technology. What we have both recognised is that there is very strong market demand to run software on the widest range of enterprise servers.
His feeling is that this is a good time to create a wide range of hardware options for businesses at a time when the need for business transformation is at its height and the need to modernise data centres will be at its most pressing. By partnering with HPE, it gets to offer users a choice in consumption models, specifically adding a choice that may well be familiar, and popular, with businesses that are coming under significant pressure – and possible risk – from a perceived need to make fundamental operational changes as part of that transformation.
So while Smith would no doubt be happy to take all those customers and get them to simply jump ship to a cloud-hosted world, he is aware that reality says a different approach is essential for all parties:
We are all being methodical and judicious about this. So consider it to be sort of a crawl, walk and run strategy.
Sometimes it is possible to 'hear' a wry smile in a telephone conversation and one could certainly be heard in response to an obvious question: namely that, with the Nutanix annual conference coming up in under a month, making this announcement now suggested more might be announced at the impending keynote presentation. Given HPE’s not un-noted acquisitive nature, and its record at swallowing large IT vendors in the past, might the obvious two-plus-two actually make four? The party line is:
We actually have a public FAQ release by the two companies on the announcement and we anticipate that question. Right now, the companies are intensely focused on bringing to market, jointly, both of these offerings.
So for now at least, the focus is on building the whole customer experience. For example, the appliance implementation can be purchased using a single SKU, which will deliver a turnkey, ready to deploy appliance on an HP Proliant or Apollo server ready for immediate deployment.
Here are two companies that already know each other well enough, making an obvious move that gives both some potential leverage on future developments in this burgeoning cloud services marketplace. The key winners, however, are likely to be the users that get a far bigger, richer range of choices in the way they can build the services that will serve their specific business purposes.