Hyperconverged will be the mainstay of modern datacenter: Sunil Mahale, Nutanix

Hyper convergence or software defined everything will redefine the enterprise datacenter in 2018 and beyond says Nutanix India Chief Sunil Mahale.

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Hyper convergence Infrastructure or HCI has become a key enterprise technology for companies to drive IT investments to reduce infra complexity and drive business benefits. The Cloud enterprise company Nutanix is fast expanding its HCI platform across major Indian enterprises. IDG India spoke to Sunil Mahale, Vice President & MD, Nutanix India to gauge the maturity curve of hyper converged and cloud in year of 2018.

Edited Excerpts.

What key trends are influencing Indian organizations and their investments in IT? Any drift you foresee in 2018?

We definitely see a fundamental shift across Indian enterprise IT landscape with regards to the modernization of datacenter. The customers are more focused on investing in technologies that simplify infra of the datacenter to drive efficiency, management benefits, admin benefits to name a few. And hence hyper convergence will become the mainstay of datacenters for 2018.

Sunil Mahale’s Cloud Takeaways for 2018

1.    Cloud to be distributed and dispersed

2.    Cloud will move to edge due to IoT, mobility

3.    Cloud will be consumed much more by Apps

HCI is no longer deemed as niche projects for customers to try a couple of workloads as companies put more enterprise Apps on converged and hyper converged platforms. HCI will be synonymous with IT infra akin to smartphones with phones. Smartphones redefined user experience and hyper convergence or software defined everything will redefine the enterprise datacenter in 2018.

Do you expect the roadblocks or scepticism by CIOs to adopt new technology like HCI lessen or evaporate in near future?

It was the right of passage. It is similar to virtualization introduced in 2004 / 2005 when the customers were apprehensive to try one or two workloads before the technology attained maturity. The roadblocks will be overcome faster as we have customers across all major segments - BFSI, Telecom, Manufacturing - in India utilizing Nutanix solutions in the past 18 months.

That anxiety of the technology not working in their environment will go away because India’s largest PSU bank or India’s biggest stock exchange are now a proof point of the HCI market. CIOs will hence have more confidence in solving the prime challenge of the complexity of infra by technologies that bring everything together in a simplified manner. HCI is now in the maturity phase and has moved out of the early adopter phase of the hype cycle.

Does HCI appeal confine to large and very large enterprises or small and medium businesses will ride the wave and benefits too?

There are close to 53 million small and mid-market customers in India as per reports. Hyper convergence is not a destination for them but it is a means to an end. The adoption of HCI in SMBs will be dramatic because they don’t have large teams to manage different silos of storage, networking, or servers. To reduce the overall TCO, they will rapidly adopt hyper converged and software defined technologies. Also most of them don’t have much of legacy IT systems and incumbency to protect.

“We believe every infra will become some sort of software-defined, because everybody wants cloud experience in their datacenter.”

Sunil Mahale

VP & MD, Nutanix India

Customers are not looking to build or deploy hyper converged systems but bring cloud experience to their datacenter. That’s the overarching theme that if they can’t go to the cloud then can they get cloud to their DC. We believe every infra will become some sort of software defined because everybody wants the cloud experience in their datacenter. That’s what Nutanix has solved for commercial and enterprise customers.

How do you see cloud evolve from its earlier avatar a couple of years ago? Will IoT change the characteristics of cloud of the future?

Today’s cloud resides in one or two big datacenters. But tomorrow’s cloud world will be dispersed and distributed, as it will get into the edge. There will hundreds and thousands of clouds if not more in 2018 and beyond. IoT will drive edge cloud adoption, as the customers will deploy cloud in edges like a cloud for telco for sensor location or cloud for IoT project in oil and gas as an example.

Another major trend is that cloud will be consumed by apps and that cloud will be invisible to the end user. And the workloads sprawled across multi cloud architecture will pose challenges for managing cross-cloud and multi cloud environments. The App sprawl of cloud – private, public and hybrid – and its management across multi cloud architecture (in predominant hybrid world) would need to be addressed by the customers.

Which C –level execs at the end-user organization call the shots for buying new technologies like HCI?

There are technology buyers (CIOs,IT managers) and there are economic buyers (CFOs,CEOs) in any company. Tech buyers will look at technologies that simplify the datacenter more than today. Once we prove that, the economic buyer looks at the overall TCO reduction. A large bank transformed from 18 racks of discrete architecture with siloed infra into 2 racks. There were tangible benefits like savings of power, space, cooling with HCI platform.

Both tech buyers CIOs and his or her team as well as economic are involved in IT buying and it’s not one or either. Most CEOs are looking at improving efficiency and simplifying the datacenter infra. Simplification of IT infra will be a big driving factor in 2018 and not the technologies alone.

Channels form an important route for technology OEM like Nutanix. Is your partner ecosystem warming to modern world of HCI, Cloud, SDx? 

Yes. HCI market is real and it’s not ‘try and buy’ domain for channels. It’s not a niche play for channels as every infra will be hyper converged. The channel partners should start talking and understanding language and tell simplification story around HCI and SDx to offer a great user experience. They should start investing in the technology be it our platform or industry’s leading leaders as HCI will be a must-have for companies and not good-to-have.

4 Priorities for Nutanix India

1.    Further footprint in enterprise and commercial segment

2.    Impetus on Government & PSU for national / regional DCs

3.    Focus on Mid-market segment as they warm up to SDx

4.    India becoming hub for decision making of global accounts

Nutanix is working with channel investment, focus areas, training enablement, POC and working with other initiatives Together with our channel partners, we can help customers on the overarching theme to cloud, HCI and simplify datacenter for their customers.

We have OEM alliances with Dell, Lenovo, HPE, Cisco as software only model. Nutanix will embrace Software strategy across India. We have to continue with our integrated appliance but we will be more software heavy or software driven company

Your list of prime priorities for India market?

We will further our advance in both - enterprise and commercial segment. There will be more focus on Government and public sector as that’s an untapped opportunity with large state datacenters - national and regional and also large pan India initiatives GSTN,UIDAI to name a few. There will be impetus on mid-market segment as they warm up to Hyper converged and software defined everything. Globals are being decentralized as many of the decisions are being made India out keeping in mind that India is becoming a hub for many global initiatives.

CIOs and IT decision makers should challenge OEMs like us and work with us to really help them simplify the IT infra. They should evaluate and do a proper due diligence in terms of what Apps can go on infra today. They should give a serious thought to multi-cloud environment, which is a reality. They need to build a medium to long-term well-thought out cloud strategy as we engage with them in their journey to datacenter modernization.