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Nutanix, Red Hat partner to ease container app deployment

A Nutanix-Red Hat partnership could help the vendors compete with VMware in the growing market for Kubernetes platforms that span public and private clouds.

Nutanix and Red Hat partnered to make it easier for customers to combine their software to build, scale and manage cloud-based containerized and virtualized applications.

The deal calls for the Nutanix Cloud Platform to become the "preferred choice" for hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and the OpenShift Container Platform. Red Hat's OpenShift also becomes the preferred option for full-stack Kubernetes on the Nutanix Cloud Platform, which includes the Acropolis Operating System (AOS) and Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).

Nutanix AHV joined VMware ESXi and ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V and Red Hat's KVM on the list of hypervisors certified to work with RHEL and OpenShift. The Nutanix-Red Hat partnership also calls for ongoing joint engineering work to ensure interoperability and support for RHEL, OpenShift and AHV.

James Governor, an analyst and co-founder of RedMonk, said certification and joint support is crucial in the HCI market. The partnership also enables Red Hat and Nutanix to "push back" against growing competition from VMware in the expanding market for hybrid Kubernetes platforms, he said.

"OpenShift was the early market leader and has customers in a range of sectors using the platform to modernize software delivery," Governor said. "For Nutanix customers, the deal means a potential pricing lever against VMware, as they can use Nutanix's hypervisor, rather than VMware, if they're adopting the joint solution for infrastructure simplification."

Governor said, if he were a customer or partner, his next step would be agitating for joint discounts and reseller agreements.

For Nutanix customers, the deal means a potential pricing lever against VMware.
James GovernorAnalyst and co-founder, RedMonk

Impetus for Nutanix-Red Hat partnership

The impetus for the Nutanix-Red Hat partnership was customer interest and demand, according to Ron Pacheco, director of product management at Red Hat. He said Red Hat fielded a "crescendo" of inquiries over the last year or two from customers wanting to run RHEL in Nutanix HCI and, more recently, saw early signs of customers interested in pairing OpenShift and Nutanix HCI.

Red Hat OpenShift now has more than 3,200 customers, representing almost four times the number of clients that used it just prior to IBM announcing its acquisition of Red Hat, according to statements made during IBM's second-quarter earnings call last month. IBM announced the $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat in October 2018, and the deal closed in July 2019.

Pacheco said Nutanix HCI could serve as a complement to Red Hat OpenShift and help ease hybrid-cloud deployments for DevOps teams with limited resources. He noted Nutanix provides documentation on how to install OpenShift inside Nutanix HCI and certified its Container Storage Interface driver and CSI Operator for Kubernetes to enable the provisioning of persistent volumes.

Monica Kumar, senior vice president of marketing and cloud go-to-market at Nutanix, said, in addition to HCI, the Nutanix Cloud Platform also includes unified block, file and object storage, application orchestration, management and disaster recovery capabilities. Many customers use Nutanix with Red Hat technologies to deploy mission-critical applications such as Oracle databases, SAP HANA and Epic Systems healthcare software, she added.

Nutanix customer count

Nutanix has close to 19,500 customers, and 52% of the total nodes that run the company's software use the AHV hypervisor, which is based on open source KVM virtualization technology, just as Red Hat's hypervisor is, Kumar said. She was unable to provide estimates on the number of Nutanix customers that use the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform or have expressed an interest in it.

"Most customers have a hybrid cloud strategy. They are developing applications in the cloud or using the same cloud-native components on premises," Kumar said. "The fact that, now, we are coming together with Red Hat and offering customers a joint solution to not only build cloud-native apps, but also to run them, scale them and manage them -- either on premises or in hybrid clouds -- is a big deal for our customers."

Kumar said many customers build applications for the public cloud, but Nutanix customer surveys show there's also a "large appetite" for running cloud-native-like services on premises, as well.

"We are seeing many of our customers wanting that flexibility where they can deploy applications using the same methodology, same tool set, same constructs, whether on premises or in a public cloud, and then have the flexibility to deploy anywhere," Kumar said. "And we believe there's a huge synergy between Red Hat and Nutanix in terms of providing hybrid solutions across multiple clouds."

Nutanix Clusters on AWS supports HCI deployments that span on-premises and Amazon's public cloud. Kumar said a similar option is in the works for upcoming general availability with Microsoft Azure, and Nutanix is involved in discussions with additional cloud providers.

"Our goal for the foreseeable future is to help our customers navigate cloud complexity," Kumar said. "This is not about just working on one cloud. This is about providing solutions to our customers where they can build once and deploy anywhere. They can use the same technology in Azure, in Google, on AWS and on premises."

Carol Sliwa is a TechTarget senior writer covering storage arrays and drives, flash and memory technologies, and enterprise architecture.

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