More enterprises and govt departments looking at cloud technologies in India: Jeff Smith, Nutanix

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, Senior Director – Systems Engineering – APJ, Nutanix, in an interaction with Express Computer, sheds light on Nutanix’s positioning in the cloud space among enterprises, and the market opportunities for the company in India, among others

What’s your vision on moving the needle from Hyper converged Infrastructure (HCI) to enterprise cloud?

HCI is a key building block for enterprise cloud. The challenge Nutanix is addressing with enterprise cloud is how to provide a public cloud-like experience in the private data center in terms of: Easy of use through consumer grade design, consumption models that do not require up-front purchases of three-five years of capacity but rather pay as you grow, ease of management by making the mundane maintenance tasks, resiliency, expansion of capacity and other common activities invisible and automatic out of the box.

To achieve this goal of the enterprise cloud, the foundation must be based on an architecture that comes from the public cloud and large-scale data center world, not from traditional enterprise. Traditional enterprise architectures required and still require specialist technicians and operators for the storage, the storage network, the computing and the virtualisation components – a cumbersome and costly approach in practice. Instead, web-scale architectures that assume failure of underlying hardware yet “route around” the problems through self-healing, that are software defined, highly analytics driven and automated are required. For example, in a Google data center, tens of thousands of servers are managed by a handful of people. When a server fails, the cluster of servers heals itself and returns to full resiliency.

The failure and replacement of failed servers is not an emergency situation, but rather a simple, periodic maintenance task where a broken server is removed, a new one is inserted and automatically rejoins the cluster of servers – with minimal intervention from humans other than to physically remove and replace the server. Nutanix took this approach to data center design and built software, initially running on an appliance of standard x86 server hardware and now on a choice of hardware vendor platforms, that the average enterprise could easily consume.

Another key aspect of enterprise cloud and a requirement to the underlying hyper converged infrastructure is around continuous innovation. True HCI is completely software defined and has no specific dependencies on underlying hardware, specialised FPGAs or other proprietary hardware. The pace of innovation and the very fact that the exact same infrastructure will improve in performance and functionality on a regular basis, merely through software upgrades, delivers on one of the characteristics that IT and the consumers of the infrastructure have come to expect based on their experience with public cloud and many XaaS offerings.

Observe also that there is no single cloud and instead there are public clouds, private clouds and distributed clouds. Distributed clouds may be remote office/branch office instances or edge computing and IoT applications such as on oil and gas rigs and cruise ships. Any given organization may have workloads that are best run in:

  • Public cloud such as systems of engagement type of API-driven, stateless services in support of mobile apps
  • Private cloud for systems of record applications and data that must remain on-premises for security, compliance and performance
  • Distributed cloud for remote offices or distributed functions of the organization which may have real-time analytics and control system requirements to remain close to source of the data or the system being controlled

The challenge that organizations face today is that each of these ‘clouds’ utilise different technology stacks and thus applications and data are not portable. Management of each of these is fragmented and thus can lead to complexity, with unforeseen and nearly un-debuggable failure modes. From a business and finance standpoint, these environments all have different consumption, licensing and metering models which can lead to unpredictable IT budgets and expenses.

What if an organization could start anywhere along the spectrum of public/private/distributed cloud and leverage a platform which provides a consistent, public cloud-like experience and economics but satisfied the varied needs of each mode of deployment while providing unified, scalable management plus app-centric management, orchestration and automation?

This is what Nutanix is building as the enterprise cloud. On top of that, Nutanix believes in giving our customers choice and not locking them in and thus we provide hardware choice of our own appliance, DellEMC, Lenovo, Cisco UCS, HPE and IBM Power with choice of hypervisor including VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and Nutanix’s native virtualisation with AHV. Even our Calm (Cloud Application Lifecycle Management), offering to manage applications, provide self-service governance and hybrid cloud management, will allow customers to not only automate and move their workloads between private cloud, distributed cloud and public cloud but also move their workloads completely off of Nutanix if they so choose. We have also published from early on details of our entire underlying architecture and operations in something called the Nutanix Bible at nutanixbible.com. Our vision is for customers to have choice and to be able to easily use the right cloud for the right workload at the right time. One Click. One OS. Any cloud.

What are some of the primary business verticals that Nutanix will target in India? Which verticals are ahead of the curve in terms of adoption of cloud and what kind of work loads are being deployed?

As of now, the banking, financial and insurance (BFSI) sector, IT and telecom, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing and government projects are the areas of focus for Nutanix in India. The BFSI sector is one of the early adopters of cloud technology. Any workload in any environment, and any application type can be moved to the Nutanix platform in a single click.

What are some of the big opportunities that Nutanix sees in the enterprise space in India?

The India market is fast changing. We have seen more and more enterprises and government departments (central and state) looking at adopting enterprise cloud technologies; to improve efficiency as well as to reduce costs. With important government initiatives like Digital India, technology and innovation is here to grow. For Nutanix, India is an important part of its growth strategy and we will continue to focus on key sectors including both central and local governments, banking and finance sectors as well as service providers, to offer high-performance and cost effective enterprise cloud solutions. Today we have over 600 employees in India and our R&D center in Bengaluru is our second largest in the world. India is a growth story for us and we will continue to invest in our growth here.

What are some of the opportunities that you see in the government sector in India?

We see that the GoI is on a huge digitization drive; be it Smart Cities, Digital India, Aadhaar enabled services, state data centers and so much more. GoI is not only the biggest spender on IT and services in India, arguably they are one of the biggest spenders on IT Globally. Data security and sovereignty are key aspects in any government function and we believe this is where Nutanix adds great value.

US Federal Government is one of Nutanix’s largest customers. It was one of our very early markets and because of the commitment that Nutanix made while it was still a very young company, it still constitutes a significant market for us which has now expanded outside of the US to other government and public sector markets in Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Similar to the US, India is a large geography. There will be an increase in analytics, inferences, summarization, and aggregation of data at the edge with only relevant summaries pushed into a core cloud which may be public or private. Our experience from these large enterprise private cloud deployments and ability to create agile, flexible and extensible platforms can help governments role our consumer services at a much faster pace and far more efficiently compared to traditional architectures.

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