Dheeraj Pandey, President & CEO of Nutanix, discussed his company’s innovative approach to storage and the disruption cloud and software-defined trends brought to the IT world, with theCUBE co-hosts Dave Vellante and John Furrier, live at VMworld 2013.
“Every 10-15 years, there’s a disruption of some kind,” Pandey said. The current one is is around flash, software defined, and cloud. The velocity of consumption is changes and there is no longer a need to wait for months to have the machines up and running. “Gross margin is actually up for grabs. That perhaps is the biggest disruption,” he added.
Asked to share his take on VMware’s push to virtualize the networking and storage layer, Pandey said they were facing a lot of pressure from companies such as Microsoft or Amazon, thus “they have to find new streams of revenue. Networking and storage services are the next natural streams of revenue. They have a more imminent product in networking, but the delivery is going to be a lot more complex. They don’t understand that space,” he warned, saying their sale reps don’t understand how to sell networking.
Nutanix now has close to 300 employees, and is present in 25 countries, marking impressive growth. Pandey said it started with a conversation around collapsing computer storage, bringing it to the masses as mass applications. As they were digging deeper into storage virtualization, the discovered issued that needed to be fixed. “It’s all about simplicity.”
Part of Nutanix’ success is just the technology. “It’s a difficult product to imitate,” boasts Pandey. The company brought together the best people in consumer cloud and data centers. “We really are a very holistic company, focusing on all the storage features, the availability, scalability. “More than everything else is how we try to disrupt without being very disruptive.”
“We are hot today because we met some bets 2-3 years ahead of everyone else,” Pandey said. Nutanix aimed to disrupt storage and disaggregate the hub. “The message is very simple: you don’t need a SAN or NAS appliance to build your data center.” Nutanix uses virtual controllers in every server, software brings all of them together. The benefit is “you can take speculation out of your data center planning.” Under the hood, the product uses all Big Data technologies and frameworks to “solve some really basic storage issues,” bringing the Big Data applications into the fundamental infrastructure. It is essentially a Big Data app that can run other Big Data apps on top. “It bridges the legacy. All the tenants that people love Big Data for, we bring all that under the hood and explore protocols that up until now were only used for legacy applications.”
Storage needs to be pure software
“Storage needs to be pure software,” Pandey said. ”It has to be on the server, it does not need to be a special appliance.” Comparing Nutanix to VSAN, he explained it was going to be in the VMware stack. “We say storage needs to be above that. Hypervisor is the new sheet of the future.” There is a need for a fabric that needs to be on top of different computing silos, it needs to run everywhere and unify the silos and have the management piece on top of it. “We’ve done everything in software, pure software, we can go and deliver easily.”
- Advice to new startups in virtualization
Asked what pieces of advice he’d give to new entrepreneurs, Pandey said they need to “bridge the legacy, if you can and talk about the future, you’re there.” VMware became big because of this very thing. Another important aspect is to respect the channel. “Do not optimize the bottom line if you need to optimize the top line.” Thirdly, he advised them to”be bold and courageous,” shared Pandey.
Sharing what worries him, Pandey said it was the people. “When we get a lot of really good people together, how do you keep the feel of a small company? The heart is about the DNA of a small startup. We need to maintain the culture.”