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Nutanix, IBM hug each other in Power pity party

Big Blue gets cloud cred. Nutanix gets a chance to talk core apps

By Simon Sharwood, 15 May 2017

Nutanix and IBM will announce on Tuesday a new relationship that will see Nutanix build hyperconverged systems out of IBM Power servers – its first non-Intel-powered boxes.

Details of what will be delivered, and when, have not yet been revealed. But The Register understands Nutanix will bring its hyperconverged stack to Power systems complete with its software-defined storage play and ability to make private clouds out of Big-Blue-powered servers. IBM's Bluemix public cloud offers Power servers too, so there's potential for a hybrid cloud play too for Power people. Nutanix may also make it possible to consider x86 and Power as a single pool of resources.

We understand that the alliance was struck for a few reasons.

IBM knows that its Power systems don't have a stellar future. Commodity x86 and the operating systems it can run have mostly caught up to the resilience and scalability of the Power ecosystem. There's little reason to keep running it, other than the fact that many Power systems are tightly coupled to core applications.

That tight coupling means Power systems and the apps they run can't easily access public-cloud-like elasticity, or let developers adopt cloud-native tools. Power users also see the elasticity and pay-as-you-go models falling from public clouds and want that in their own data centres.

If Power users can't get that from IBM, it makes it more likely they'll consider migrating away from the platform – even if that means the pain of moving a tier-one app.

Nutanix has problems of its own. The advent of Dell EMC, with its multiple own-brand hyperconverged products, plus HPE buying SimpliVity, means it now faces rivals with colossal resources, and in Dell's case little reason to continue nourishing a rival. Nutanix is also experiencing lumpy seasonal revenue that has spooked investors.

Despite sounding like a breakfast cereal, Nutanix has done very well very fast, but it isn't yet entertained in discussions about core apps inside big enterprises. And those discussions are what every enterprise wants, because once you run a core application the incumbency is very hard to dislodge.

An IBM/Nutanix alliance therefore makes sense. IBM gets a way to show Power users they can start to adopt cloudy models, and a way to show investors that the bound-for-legacy-status Power platform has a longer future than might previously have been imagined. Nutanix gets a way to talk to big companies about their core apps, which may cheer up its investors. ®

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