Enterprises using Cisco Systems' converged infrastructure platform in their data centers will now be able to run Nutanix's hyperconverged software on top of it.
Nutanix officials this week said the company has validated its Enterprise Cloud Platform software to run on Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) C-Series servers. The move means that Nutanix's products can now run on three of the top four hyperconverged hardware platforms, and that Cisco's UCS customers now have a third option when considering a hyperconverged solution.
Nutanix already has OEM agreements with Dell and Lenovo to run its software on those vendors' growing hyperconverged infrastructure hardware, while Cisco has similar agreements with software makers SimpliVity and Springpath, the latter of which was used by Cisco in its HyperFlex hyperconverged offering, which was announced in March.
However, the situation with Nutanix doesn't include such an OEM agreement. According to Nutanix officials, the company—which also sells its own NX family of systems—worked on its own to validate its Acropolis distributed file system and Prism interface for the UCS C-Series systems.
In a post on the company blog, Nutanix President Sudheesh Nair noted that Cisco's UCS platform has grown in popularity since being released in 2009, and that his company wanted to tap into that customer base but knew that users are "particularly loyal" to UCS and are unlikely to make the jump to Dell, Lenovo or Nutanix's NX systems to access Nutanix's software.
"These customers prefer to build upon their UCS server hardware with not just a software-defined infrastructure, but with a mature, highly proven Nutanix product that embodies the same type of innovation that UCS originally brought to the virtualized data center," Nair wrote, adding that after months of working with customers and partners to test Acropolis and Prism on UCS, his company "decided to offer this capability to all UCS C-series customers. Lacking an OEM appliance agreement with Cisco, Nutanix created a new software-only approach specifically for UCS."
What that means is that in regards to UCS, Nutanix developed a system that enables it to quickly develop software changes to respond rapidly to UCS hardware updates, he wrote.
It's a situation similar to what Cisco enables companies via its Solution Partner Program. Cisco officials have not commented on Nutanix's new capabilities.
The relatively new hyperconverged infrastructure market is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as enterprises, challenged by such growing technology trends as the cloud, mobility, virtualization, data analytics and the internet of things (IoT), look for ways to simplify their increasingly complex data centers and to drive down costs. Gartner analysts expect the space to reach $2 billion this year, and almost $5 billion by 2019.
OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Hitachi are growing out their infrastructure portfolios to include hyperconverged offerings, while more pure-play companies like Nutanix, SimpliVity and Pivot3 are looking to grab parts of the fast-growing market.
Nutanix is among the leaders in the software part of the space, while Cisco entered the market with HyperFlex, which comprises the company's UCS servers and software-defined storage (SDS) technology created with SpringPath, a startup that Cisco has invested in. There also are Cisco's Nexus switches for an integrated networking fabric and UCS Manager software.
Reports surfaced last year that Cisco was interested in buying Nutanix, but a deal never materialized.
Having Nutanix run on UCS systems could be a boon for that part of Cisco's business, but it also essentially creates a competitor of sorts to the HyperFlex unit.
Nutanix officials said the company will fully support its software running on the UCS C-Series systems, including installation, scaling and troubleshooting. In addition, UCS customers running Nutanix can take advantage of other Cisco offerings, such as the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), to help create software-defined networks (SDNs) and software-defined data centers, they said.
Nutanix officials in June announced an ambitious plan to expand its software offerings beyond hyperconverged infrastructures to become a vendor that can help enterprises run their private environments with the same flexibility, scalability and automation they find in public clouds like Amazon Web Services.