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Nutanix CEO smacks down VMware exec over claim it's a new Enron

Yeah, the one that went down in flames for enormous financial naughtiness

By Simon Sharwood, 19 Jul 2017

The ongoing spat between VMware and Nutanix has flared again, with the latter company's CEO Dheeeraj Pandey hitting Twitter to smack down Lee Caswell, Virtzilla's veep for Products, Storage and Availability.

This round of the spat between the two appears to have started with a since-deleted Caswell Tweet pointing to this Marketwatch.com story titled “Nutanix is a ‘once-in-a-decade’ opportunity, says Goldman Sachs”.

The story reports that Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski likes Nutanix's new accounting rules as they “will move its software revenues, which are currently deferred, to its profit and loss statement” with a likely 12 to 13 per cent increase in revenue the result.

But those rules, The Reg understands, are the Financial Accounting Standards Board's ASC 606 standard on revenue recognition. VMware is adopting those rules itself!

Caswell seemingly wasn't impressed by Jankowski's opinion, as he tweeted – and later deleted – the following observation.

VMware's Lee Caswell tweets about Nutanix and Enron

Screenshot of a Tweet by VMware's Lee Caswell

For those of you who don't remember Enron, the energy company cratered on a dinosaur-killing scale in 2001 when it was found to have used all manner of odd practices to claim revenue and profits where none existed. Many of the company's senior execs eventually went to jail and auditor Arthur Andersen dissolved after its role facilitating the frauds were revealed. Enron remains a byword for corporate deception and dodginess.

Caswell mentioning the company and Nutanix in the same breath is therefore a very, very serious suggestion, especially when there's no indication Nutanix is doing anything out of the ordinary.

Nutanix's Pandey responded as follows.

Which generated one response suggesting Pandey was taking tweeting lessons from disgraced former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Caswell deleted his tweet, but a subsequent missive indicates stands by his sentiments.

Caswell also offered the following, which explains a little about the VMware/Nutanix feud.

To understand that message, know that Nutanix and VMware are partners but don't get on: the former started life with hyperconverged boxen that both leveraged and improved vSphere. Nutanix later developed its own Acropolis hypervisor and says running it lets you do hyperconvergence without paying a “tax” for VMware code. Hence the T-shirts.

VMware's displeasure with Nutanix comes from that “tax” marketing and the fact that it's now in direct competition with Dell EMC's VXRail product. Nutanix also bruised VMware badly, as Virtzilla's first attempt at a hyperconverged stack – EVO Rail – failed.

The two have since brawled through VMware's user groups, which barred Nutanix employees from serving as volunteer leaders.

Adding further weirdness to this latest clash is that Dell and Nutanix remain partners on the XC series appliances. Further, as recently as May 2017, Caswell was saying nice things about Nutanix!

Nutanix, for its part, doesn't mind a bit of controversy as shown by its decision to support HPE servers without consulting HPE first.

It's hard to see how VMware benefits from this rolling brawl – surely the act of making the effort to denigrate Nutanix legitimises it as a competitor? And what kind of $7bn company gets upset by a T-shirt? ®

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