There are two trains of thoughts in the world of hyper convergence. One is to own the platform and provide an appliance model with a variety of choices for the customer based on varying levels of compute and storage. Each box goes through thousands of hours of testing both aligned to and independent of the software that it powers. All components are beaten to a pulp in various scenarios, ran to death and performance calibrated and improved at every step. Apple has done this from its inception and has developed a vastly more reliable and innovative platform than any PC since. Yes I’m a fanboy…
The other train is one that can (and has) been quickly derailed.
You create a nice bit of software, one that you also spend thousands of hours building and testing but when it comes to the platform you allow all manner of hardware as its base. Processor, memory, manufacturer all are just names at this stage. vSAN started its HCL last year as a massive Excel spreadsheet filled with a huge variety of tin most of which was guesswork and it showed by how that spreadsheet was received by the community. Atlantis USX also uses a similar approach. Choice of a thousands of flavours is great if you’re buying yogurt but not so good when your business relies on consistency and predictability – oh and a fast support mechanism from your vendor. You can imagine the finger pointing when something goes wrong…
It’s the software that matters, of course, and while this statement is correct it’s only a half truth.
Unless you can accurately test and assure every possible server platform from every manufacturer your customers use then the supportability of the platform (that’s the hardware plus the software) is flawed. If you can somehow do the majority you’re still in for a world of pain. Controllers on the servers may differ. Some SSDs may provide different performance in YOUR software regardless of their claimed speeds. Suddenly the same software performs differently across hardware that is apparently the same.
At Nutanix we’ve provided cutting-edge hardware from small footprint nodes to all-flash but never once have we not known the performance and reliability of our platform before it leaves the door and is powered up by a customer. You can read about all six hardware platforms here. When we OEM’d our software to Dell we gave the same level of QA to the HC appliances too.
We know our hardware platform and ensure that it works with the hypervisors we support. We then know our software works with those hypervisors. We own and assure each step to provide 100% compatibility. If you’re just the software on top, you have thousands of possible permutations to assure. Sorry I mean assume.
We own it all from top to bottom and the boxes, regardless of their origin or components, are 100% Nutanix. This is how we can take and resolve support questions and innovate within the platform without external interference. Customers love the simplicity of the product as you probably know but their is an elegance in also displaying a structured yet flexible hardware platform. Ownership is everything.
I’ve lost count of the flack I’ve taken by “not being software only” as that’s “the only way to be truly software defined.”
It is the software that matters but if as a company you cannot fully understand the impact your software has on the hardware it must run on then the only person you’re kidding is yourself and more worryingly the first person it hurts is your customer.
Let’s see who else follows the leader once again.