Storage contender Nutanix is finding its niche in Canada, growing to 16 people in 16 months and bucking the trend of managing Canada from the U.S.
The market for innovative enterprise data centre infrastructure solutions in Canada has typically been a challenging one. Much of the space above the SMB in Canada is the midmarket, not the enterprise. Canadian companies have a proclivity to be conservative in embracing new technology. Moreover, while any startup competing against established players needs to overcome hurdles with customers, a company which sells entirely through the channel also needs to convince quality partners to make an investment in a company with a less well-known brand.
San Jose-based Nutanix, which was founded in 2009, is bucking these trends. The company, which sells entirely through partners, has been in Canada for 16 months, and has expanded from one to 16 employees over that time. It has also been able to sell its solution despite the handicap companies in its situation face.
“We will crack triple digits in the number of customers in Canada this month,” said Anton Granic, Senior Director, Nutanix Canada. “Penetration in all the different verticals has been incredible.”
Granic indicated a good deal of this success comes because Nutanix has always gotten the Canadian market and how to go after it.
“Typically, startups start off in the mid–market, keeping it close to home in the US, and then slowly expanding as they build up traction,” he said. “Nutanix has done an amazing job identifying the key markets we have to go after globally, and Canada, Asia and the [U.S] federal government were all key areas for us.”
To go after the Canadian market, Granic said Nutanix provided the Canadian operation with considerably more resources and autonomy than companies in this position typically get.
“Most U.S. startups have a hard time getting into the Canadian market because they don’t understand it,” Granic said. “Nutanix has given us the freedom, which is why we’ve grown exponentially in the last 16 months since I joined.”
Nutanix’s technology stands out from the market in its ability to apply virtualization software to physical devices. Its software reduces the virtual machine I/O blender that emerges when large numbers of virtual machines are placed on a single server, which translates into real compute gains.
“We have a major advantage in that our solution is purpose built for the task, and hasn’t been duct taped together, because we were consciously building a solution for a gap in the market,” Granic said. “We also have the goodness of Web scale through hyper-convergence, which brings the expertise of global cloud providers to the enterprise in a prepackaged turnkey data centre-in-a –box offering. Our time-to-value is a huge differentiator as we deliver from factory to onsite in less than ten business days. And our Lego block approach to building as you grow makes it easier to get access to budgets. All of those components come together to work to our advantage.”
Nutanix has also been working aggressively to build brand recognition in Canada.
“One of our biggest mandates as a team of disruptors is to evangelize the name Nutanix,” Granic said. “A challenging role of building up a company from scratch is showing customers that there’s an easier and more cost effective way to build out their data centres. More press and third party validation from analyst firms like Gartner and IDC makes it easier.” Gartner recently positioned Nutanix furthest in the Visionary Quadrant for completeness of vision in its first-ever Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems.
“A lot of concerns are quickly overcome because the technology works as advertised,” Granic added. “This really is the software-defined data center. Every customer we bring on board becomes a huge
advocate for us. That’s how we have secured some of the largest government agencies and financial and health care organizations in Canada.”
Nutanix’s channel plays a major role in the evangelicization of customers.
“The Canadian market is more conservative and slow to adopt leading edge technologies,” Granic said. “Our approach has been to identify a few key go-to partners with experience in virtualization and storage in each region who we will invest a lot of time in us. This includes a few national partners, a few regional partners which will give us that localized feel, and a few boutique partners, but they are all partners who can understand the value proposition.”
Nutanix has been using Ingram Micro/Promark for their Canadian distribution since last November, and will be supplementing this later this month with a new relationship with Arrow, which is in the process of being finalized.
Nutanix also recently announced its first major OEM deal, with Dell. Nutanix’s software will now be available on Dell hardware in the new Dell XC Series of Web-scale Converged Appliances. Previously, Nutanix coupled its software solely with Super Micro x86 hardware.
“Dell was the first such deal for us, and it’s very impressive and rewarding,” Granic said “Dell approached us to leverage their software and their hardware, which we see as a validation of our leadership position in this hyper-converged space. Dell will let us penetrate key verticals even further.
Granic noted that while the response to the Dell deal has been overwhelmingly positive, and reinforces that this is the right path from a solutions perspective, he does not expect to see similar deals with other big vendors.
“It makes a lot of sense to make this one work for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Doing more now with other vendors might create conflict and overlap. There’s a lot of excitement around what this Dell partnership can yield.”
Nutanix is also driving a couple of aggressive industry campaigns. Its VDI Guarantee Program guarantees their solution will meet the customer’s requirements or Nutanix will provide any additional hardware needed to make it work at no cost.
“Our VDI Guarantee completely eliminates the risk from any VDI deployment,” Granic said.
“It is a very aggressive competitive displacement program, which makes the case that we have a 20-30% reduction in capex and 40-80% reduction in opex vs Vblock, and that we can reduce their footprint in some cases by up to 5x,” Granic said.