The Promise of the Enterprise Cloud: Changing IT to Inspiration and Transformation

A conversation between Howard Ting, Nutanix CMO, and Madhu Matta, Lenovo Vice President, Server and Storage Product Marketing, about the frontiers of data center infrastructure.


Howard: Hi Madhu, it’s great to see you. I’ve got a question I’ve been meaning to ask you.

Madhu: Hi Howard, it’s nice to see you too. I’m bracing myself because you always ask unexpected questions.

Howard: I guess I am known for that. So Madhu, what do you think it would it mean to our customers if we could change the definition of IT from “information technology” to “inspiration and transformation”?

Madhu: That’s a thought-provoking question Howard. To some, IT as “inspiration and transformation” may sound outlandish, but it’s actually quite visionary. In reality, it’s what the rest of the business is looking for IT to embrace and lead. With the rapid rise of new digital technologies such as mobility, social media, big data analytics and cloud washing over all functions of business, CIOs are in a unique position to lead the rest of business in harnessing this digital technology and driving new ventures and new sources of revenue. I just read a Gartner survey of CIOs where these digital technologies held four of the six top strategic investment priorities. The inspiration to show how these technologies can be used and the prowess to implement them reside with IT.

Howard: Exactly Madhu. This is in line with what we hear in conversations with prospective Nutanix customers. They’ve told us the challenge IT faces. It’s the typical 80/20 rule where 80 percent of the IT organization’s resources are consumed with maintaining legacy hardware and software infrastructure and only 20 percent—or more often less—of the resources are available to invest in the top-priority digital technologies.

To wring more savings from the legacy infrastructure is unlikely. After two decades of multi-tier architectures ranging from mainframe/host terminal to client/server connected to a storage area network, the majority of product cost savings have been achieved. Furthermore, these legacy architectures were designed in an era prior to the emergence of mobility, social media, big data analytics and public cloud. As a result, they are a weak fit for the demands of today’s digital technologies and no match for the new emerging workloads such as DevOps and Containers.

Madhu: Yes Howard and we’ve found in working with customers that the only way for IT to significantly free up resources to devote to implementing the top-priority digital technologies, is to take a new approach. In recent years, the quick solution was to shift data storage and workload processing to the public cloud. However, this came with unintended consequences. Our customers found that storing data with a public cloud service provider was cheap, but to ever retrieve the data was quite expensive. Furthermore, to switch to a different public cloud service provider may not even be possible due to the offload expense and download time of what could be hundreds of terabytes or even petabytes of data. The marriage is easy, but the divorce is painful, if not impossible. Our customers who pursued this quickly became locked-in to a particular public cloud service provider.

Furthermore, when ceding control of data storage or application processing to a public cloud service provider, CIOs are entrusting a third party to deliver on the SLAs the IT organization has committed to the rest of the business. These include not only excellent application performance and continuous uptime, but also that the organization’s data is secure. This is a great deal of risk for a third party to mitigate.

The dilemma to date has been the trade-off between the feeling of control over the legacy technology, yet the fear that its inflexibility will hinder IT’s long-term success. This is contrasted against the relief delivered by unlimited resources of the public cloud, yet the risk of loss of control.

Howard: Yes Madhu, it’s a balancing act. At Nutanix, we believe the ideal would be to package together the best of both worlds without the downsides. It’s a concept called “The Enterprise Cloud”. This is what Nutanix has developed and what Lenovo has partnered to deliver.

To unshackle from the limits of legacy architecture, Nutanix identified the pain points that were frustrating customers. These included the inability to expand capacity quickly on-demand and doing so in a balanced fashion across compute and storage. Furthermore, being able to do so in an affordable, predictable manner is key. Most importantly, the infrastructure must support a broad range of applications, provision them swiftly and enable them to be managed easily without a great deal of specialized training. This is the basis of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud architecture: Providing the peace of mind that IT desires with the freedom of the public cloud delivered under IT’s full control.

Madhu: Definitely the best of both worlds Howard. Lenovo strengthens the Nutanix value for IT by providing a rock-solid hardware foundation as the basis for the infrastructure. Leveraging years of leadership design, manufacturing and support from the System x heritage, Lenovo hardware has received number-one ratings in overall customer satisfaction for seven of the last eight quarters. The Lenovo hardware also received top ratings in quality, system and application support. According to the latest ITIC 2015-2016 Global Server Hardware and OS Reliability Survey, Lenovo servers achieved the highest rate of reliability above all x86 servers worldwide. This pedigree, combined with Lenovo’s global reach across more than 160 countries, provides customers the confidence that their business-critical applications will run without interruption in an easily managed and quickly scalable manner.

Howard: A rock-solid hardware foundation is imperative Madhu. Together, Nutanix and Lenovo have provided the flexible infrastructure that is a match to deliver on the strategic priorities of today’s digital technology of mobility, social media, big data analytics and cloud. Furthermore, new emerging deployments around DevOps and Containers can be easily supported. By enabling these workloads, IT provides the rest of the business the tools to inspire entry into new products and services, and transform the infrastructure to free up the people and funding resources to afford these new business initiatives.

Madhu: I couldn’t have said it better myself Howard. The platform to do so is the Lenovo Converged HX Series scale-out appliance powered by Nutanix Enterprise Cloud technology. Be sure to read about it.