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Decked out or dud? Nutanix can now assimilate Cisco servers

Chris Purcell


Several years ago, a major automotive company started seeing a rash of blown head gaskets in some of their pickup trucks. It was later found that some clever owners were adding a performance power chip--a modification that, sure enough, added bigstock--143111369.jpgmore power but invalidated the warranty. It was an expensive lesson for them to learn when the car needed to be fixed.

The news of the Nutanix support for Cisco UCS servers--without a formal arrangement with Cisco--brings up a similar concern…read this article in The Register. Sure, you can now run Nutanix software on Cisco gear, but without a formal OEM or support agreement between the two companies, like off-brand boosters in the motors, datacenter customers are at risk, and so are the IT assets they manage.

This is not a partnership Cisco invited. It’s the brainstorm of the hyperconverged startup Nutanix, born from the company’s hubris and its self-regard as a great disrupter. To Cisco’s credit, they say they will stand behind their hardware while Nutanix stands behind their software. But will the software be truly integrated with the hardware to ensure seamless operations? I can only imagine the finger-pointing when a customer calls to complain about an installation, operations or support problem.  Nutanix’s claim of “making infrastructure invisible” is fine until it doesn’t work – then it becomes very visible.

This go-it-alone approach for Nutanix is new; time will tell if they are up to the challenge. When Cisco releases new firmware updates, it’s unknown how that will impact Nutanix software. How will these be tested, which vendor will validate them, who will be responsible for updating and maintaining the systems over the lifecycle of the offering? Firmware updates are just one example that could cause your hyperconverged system to blow a gasket. And I wonder how that fiasco will play out, having to call two different vendors in an attempt to solve the problem.

Having more choices and using the cliché of having the best of both worlds is always going to sound more appealing on the surface. Yet it seems logical that you can expect a fair amount of issues from a “solution” that is not properly co-engineered by two partners.

I also wonder about the journey for Nutanix--announcing a non-jointly developed and non-jointly supported hyperconverged offering on a Cisco a server platform. Maybe Nutanix saw an opening in Cisco’s ever-changing hyperconverged and composable strategy and tried to exploit it.

It doesn’t really matter why Nutanix decided to pursue this course; whatever the reason, it all comes down to customers. And they’re choosing hyperconvergence over other solutions for one reason: it’s simple. I wonder if the software-only approach of Nutanix will do more to confuse customers than it will to simplify their world…traveling along this road could get very bumpy indeed.

You buy a hyperconverged offering because it makes deploying VMs simple, and it creates an environment where everything works just the way you want it to. Vendors partner in order to ensure a seamless user experience for their customers. It takes lots of collaboration, R&D and investment to make sure that happens. HPE has partnerships with industry leaders such as VMWare, Microsoft, SAP, Docker, Red Hat and others. We do that to ensure you, our customer, always get a solution that works now and it works in the future—no matter how many updates are released.

According to industry analyst firm IDC, customers today are looking for tier 1 vendors with a complete product portfolio developed alongside trusted partnerships that have place for many years.1  HPE has solid hyperconverged offerings with a path toward composable infrastructure future – which gives customer investment protection on their infrastructure. HPE has a strong reputation in the industry for excellent products, service and relationships. And HPE is proud of their partners – and stand together to provide customers the best systems as experience as possible.  

I’m interested in hearing more about the Nutanix software-only approach for supporting Cisco UCS servers. As I learn more, I’ll share my thoughts. Until then, I’m sure potential customers like you will also be eager to educate yourselves to ensure that your decked out, expensive infrastructure won’t end up being a dud. Check out the HPE Hyper Converged Systems today.

1  Source: IDC Converged Systems: End User Survey Report 2015


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About the Author

Chris Purcell

Composable Infrastructure, Integrated and Multi-Cloud management, Hyperconverged Infrastructure and Cloud

Chuck Simmons

I doubt the majority of sofware that runs on HP servers has any kind of JOINT support agreement between the companies.  SW & HW support being separate isnt new or out of the ordinary.  As for how it plays out, check your own HCL for VMW or HPE vSAN ready nodes. Is this somehow different? 


Hi Chuck,

You’re right, separate HW & SW support contracts aren’t new, but it does add risk for customers when the outage is not clearly the fault of either layers. Support for both hardware and software on the HPE Hyper Converged platform is not separate, they are both succinctly combined into single support contract which provides a much improved experience for customers. HPE also tests and validates many of the software layers in our Hyper Converged platforms ourselves and trains over 1,200 service professionals who can answer all these types of support calls for the SW vendors – which again makes for an improved customer experience. I’m not aware that Cisco has any support professionals who are trained to provide front-line support for Nutanix, nor does Cisco pro-actively test their hardware to add their equipment to the Nutanix HCL. HPE does both for the full software layers in our Hyper Converged portfolio.