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Nutanix CEO: VMware customers ‘not in a happy place’

Company CEO Rajiv Ramaswami claims VMware customers have doubts about whether VMware will be the right long-term platform for them, singling out those that have made the switch to Nutanix

Nutanix CEO Rajiv Ramaswami has claimed many VMware customers have doubts about whether VMware will remain the right long-term platform for them following Broadcom’s acquisition of the virtualisation pioneer.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, he said customers are uncomfortable with VMware’s direction, noting that although they have relied on its software to run mission-critical systems, they are “not in a happy place”.

Nutanix has long been hypervisor-agnostic, providing support for VMware’s ESXi, Microsoft’s Hyper-V and open-source Xen, as well as its own AHV hypervisor. Ramaswami said Nutanix’s obsession with customers has earned the company a net promoter score (NPS) of 90 over many years, one of the best in the industry.

One aspect of that obsession is providing tools to help with migrations, he noted. The company has offered support for migrations from ESXi to the Nutanix platform right from the start, and brings automated tools for migrating virtual machines from VMware to Nutanix. “We know how to migrate customers,” said Ramaswami, explaining that hypervisor migration is the easy part of such projects. Depending on the complexity of the broader environment, customers may need help from professional services operations.

“Nutanix helps its partners offer such services, as well as providing incentives to bring new customers to Nutanix, and also offers free licences for its software during the first year of a migration project,” he said.

The partner ecosystem around Nutanix’s AHV hypervisor will work to get more customers onto the platform, added Ramaswami, and many major pieces of software are certified to run on the platform.

Migrating small and medium-sized enterprises to Nutanix is usually straightforward, he suggested, due to the relative simplicity of their environments and smaller size – but migrating larger companies need not be a major project.

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Ramaswami gave the example of a chain of hospitals in the US that had been considering Nutanix for a few years to migrate and modernise its IT systems. The effects of Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware led them to pull the trigger, and while it took some planning, a complete migration was implemented in just 90 days. This was a situation where the systems were critically important, but not complex, he observed.

But migration doesn’t have to be a “big bang”. An Asian bank has adopted a progressive approach, using both Nutanix and VMware, with all-new workloads running on Nutanix, and memory chipmaker Micron Technology is progressively modernising its environment one factory at a time. Applications are being rearchitected to use microservices and containers, with those containers running on Nutanix.

That said, Ramaswami acknowledged that not all customers or potential customers are ready to move to Nutanix. Some signed multi-year agreements with VMware ahead of the changes as a way of buying time, while others needed time to depreciate their existing three-tier hardware before considering the purchase of commodity hardware to underpin a migration to Nutanix.

When they are ready, they will be able to run all their applications – legacy, modern, high-performance computing, mission-critical, and so on – with high performance on Nutanix, he said, often exceeding the performance of their old three-tier hardware.

To worried VMware customers, Ramaswami claimed that Nutanix is “perhaps the easiest platform” for quickly reducing dependence on VMware, one that’s highly rated by customers.

In addition to its high NPS, which should be noted is a seven-year average rather than the latest figure, Nutanix enjoys a high renewal rate with gross revenue retention above 90%. “We want to partner with them for the long haul,” he said. “We’re here to help.”

After Broadcom completed its $61bn acquisition of VMware in November 2023, it made major changes to VMware’s product portfolio, including the sale of VMware’s end-user computing business to private equity firm KKR. It’s also stopping the sale of perpetual licences and offering discounts for VMware Cloud Foundation to entice customers to take up software subscriptions.

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