Today Nutanix announced it is acquiring Pernix Data and Calm.IO. Not a lot of details were announced, but these acquisitions provide a clear view into Nutanix’s broader strategy and future aspirations. Why? Because, as my colleague Mark Peters likes to say, over recent decades we have slowly moved from IT standing (as it was intended to) for “information technology” to it really being all about “infrastructure technology”.
Far too many of our available “people-cycles” over these many years have been dedicated to simply managing infrastructure rather than to managing and optimizing applications, data and workloads. And let’s be honest: managing infrastructure does absolutely nothing to directly enable the business; indeed, for many organizations, it is why IT has become a necessary evil full of sunken costs.
Of course, it’s not that we did this unthinkingly; it has happened largely thanks to limitations in the infrastructure technologies we have had to use to run our important apps—essentially big, specialized iron. To make IT work required teams of people to manage infrastructure and man years of training in specialized areas. But things are improving right now and what Nutanix represents—especially with these new additions—is clearly in the middle of the mix of trying to get back to IT as “information technology”.
Why does this matter? Well, of all the organizations within an enterprise, IT is the one which can invariably make the most difference to the business when leveraged optimally and strategically. Most companies know this and are transforming to agile, cloud-based (on- or off-premises) operating models in which software is leveraged to virtualize [heterogeneous] infrastructure, removing the slow, resource-intensive methods we’ve been using.
There is a real business advantage to be had from fast and efficient application deployment, resource allocation/orchestration and workload mobility. But for technology vendors to deliver these required capabilities, they require an understanding of the entire stack—infrastructure, applications, workload characteristics, resource availability and workload priorities. It requires insight into the data itself as it is being read and written: that’s application and IO visibility.
So, what does all this have to do with Nutanix and its new acquisitions? Pernix provides insight into the IO stack (and is moving into workload and IO analytics as well), while Calm.IO provides resource orchestration and allocation automation—between the two, reducing and in some cases eliminating the human resources required for workload and resource optimization.
Of course, there’s a lot more detail to come (as is always the case with any acquisitions) but seeing this willingness of Nutanix to spend also demonstrates that its ambitions are greater than “vanilla HCI”…..just consider this phrasing from its press release when talking about what Pernix brings in concert with Nutanix 1.0: it talks of a “re-imagined data fabric for a post-flash era of enterprise computing”. That’s broad! It’s not just a human resource advantage that can be delivered: it is a business advantage, as resources are allocated quickly and efficiently to meet changing and growing business needs and thereby to optimize IT investments and productivity. It is where the rubber meets the road in making IT not only more directly useful to a business, but also thereby more strategic.