Nutanix founder, chairman and CEO Dheeraj Pandey at Barron’s in June. Illustration: Raj Badarinath for Barron’s.
Following a report this afternoon by enterprise technology vendor Nutanix (NTNX) of better-than-expected fi scal Q4 revenue and profit, and a forecast for revenue this quarter quite a bit higher, Chief executive Dheeraj Pandey was kind enough to talk with by phone for a few minutes.
Pandey said “At the highest level, we had strong quarter, a strong end to our fiscal 2017, both from the product side and the go-to-market side.” Among trends in enterprise, it’s more of the same: the move to cloud computing , he says, or as Pandey puts it, “the idea of cloud.”
That idea has “two or three sub-connotations,” he says. One is what he call “fractional consumption,” or “pay as you grow,” meaning you don’t as a company spend as much up-front anymore on equipment; another idea is “opex versus capex,” the idea you spend on your capital assets as an ongoing operating expense, rather than a sunk cost; “and lastly, this notion of consumer-grade design, how we can democratize [technology], and design-out complexity, so that everything can be self-service.”
Referring back to a chat Pandey and I had in June , in which he noted that his company has to be always planning things three years down the road , I asked Pandey which of those three-year projects he’s on now.
He made a pitch for Nutanix’s product called ” Nutanix Calm ,” which aims to bridge the divide between so-called virtual machines like what VMware (VMW) built an empire on, and the newer technology of application ” containers ,” like what startups such as Docker provide:
There are a couple really profound problems in enterprise. One is how do you meld the idea of containers with virtual machines. VMs [virtual machines] are stateful, while containers are lightweight. Apps have to go through a journey. Some parts are containerized, and some not. How do you handle that with IT [staff] used to VMs, and developers getting used to containers? How do you enable them to talk to one another and understand one another? The job of Calm is to elevate automation to where developers and IT care about operations, and the app could be composed of different things. Then, how do you make these things run in different clouds? These things will be the drivers of future virtualization in the enterprise. It’s going to be a long journey. These things take time. We started as a company eight years ago and what we do is only becoming mainstream now. This idea of containers, the idea that you will have blurry lines between on-premise and off-premise cloud, there’s lots of work to do in all of it.
I told Pandey it sounded to me as if he definitely doesn’t think VMware, which held its “VMworld” conference this week , has come up with the solution already.
“No, no,” he said. “It’s definitely a marathon. Anyone who thinks they’ve solved in a year, they just don’t know what they are talking about.”
“Big shifts in consumption [of IT] are a decade-long marathon,” he added. “Just look at virtualization, which got going in the early 2000’s.”
Nutanix stock is up $1.10, or 5%, at $23.10, adding to earlier gains.