It should not come as a surprise to anyone involved in the EUC world that Nutanix Xi Frame now supports on-premises AHV and will support other hypervisors in the future as just announced in the Nutanix .NEXT conference 2019, which means Frame is now an on-premises offering, from originally being a cloud native DaaS only offering. Xi Frame, in a nutshell, delivers virtual apps and desktops using its own proprietary protocol (Frame Remoting Protocol) from within any browser (No Agents) with workloads hosted on the public cloud (yours or theirs) and managed from a cloud-native management portal hosted/maintained/supported by Frame.
The reason one should not be surprised is that Nutanix gave two indications for the same, one which I noted in my last Nutanix article was that Nutanix went on a hiring spree for EUC professionals, influencers, and bloggers notably most of which are Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) and/or VMware EUC Champions. In the EUC world, having this type of skill, influence, and market reach is of the essence especially when your coming head-to-head with the likes of Citrix and VMware. Second was Nutanix CEO talk to CRN recently in which he stated that they have tried to convince VMware to open Horizon for AHV support but VMware refused, so Nutanix needed to act on the same by disrupting the market “yet again”.
Update: I have received lots of comments on the above mentioned section in regards to the hiring of CTPs and EUC Champions, most of which were respectful and objective but some unfortunately were not (fanatics almost always personalize responses because they do not have the intellect to fathom an opinion different from their own). Here is the response from Jarian who is a CTP and EUC champions recently hired by Nutanix and one whom I have been following and benefiting from for a while now:
Xi Frame has been gaining a lot of interest in the last few years boasting a big customer database and from what I have heard, very good performance results especially with GPU intensive applications all running from the cloud inside a browser so the technology is definitely cool, impressive, and enterprise ready. Even VMware partnered with Frame (before it was acquired by Nutanix in August 2018 and renamed to Xi Frame) to deliver apps from the cloud under Workspace One Express App which just comes to show how solid the technology is when it comes to cloud-native (it was built in the cloud for the cloud).
Lets go back couple of years ago when Nutanix started, its first and only supported hypervisor was VMware vSphere, of course due to VMware market share in the hypervisor arena so that is just common sense. The relation between Nutanix and VMware was in its peak and both vendors were practically marketing and selling a joint solution, kind of how Citrix and Nutanix have been doing before yesterday’s announcement but I will get back to that in a moment. VMware decided to invest more in vSAN making it its native SDS solution for its private cloud offering , seeing how well Nutanix was doing and the rise of SDS, and Nutanix was opening its support to Microsoft Hyper-V after which they introduced their own KVM based hypervisor AHV. The moment VMware introduced EVO:RAIL, which eventually was dropped and merged with Dell EMC VSPEX Blue to be called VxRail (Nutanix main rival), and Nutanix started positioning AHV to its existing vSphere and new customers, all hell broke loose between Nutanix and VMware starting an HCI war that destroyed the HCI community.
The repercussions of this war were childish acts from both sides. Nutanix went on a spree of hiring VMware VCDX’s, vExperts, and VMware employees , some of which had major “personal” issues with VMware and still to day make it their daily routine to tarnish VSAN, and in return VMware started pulling back on Nutanix personnel being vExperts and/or VMUG leaders. More so, a bitter social media and blog feud was started, one which is clearly driven by some rogue Nutanix employees reaching its peak by labeling VMware products as “vTax” (This is a term invented by Nutanix to screw VMware by misleading customers into believing that VMware licenses are so costly that they are considered taxes rather than paying for services because alternate Nutanix solutions may provide the same service with a significantly lower cost) until Nutanix officially adopted the term and went on a marketing frenzy quoting customers, most of which used VMware, on how they got rid of vTax by adopting Nutanix technology so it was very clear that vTax is not SAN related but VSAN related no doubt about that (Not to forget that Nutanix marketing campaign targeted some of VMware’s offices by putting the vTax logo campaign on one of their main buildings in France if I am not mistaken). Let me note here that most if not all VMware VSAN and VxRail Gurus do not respond to nor post on any type of Nutanix related posts especially not ones filled with BS, given the posts from the other side, I really admire their class (Except for VMware COO Sanjay Poonen [Not a Big Fan] that responds more so to Nutanix CEO rather than inferior posts) .
“History repeats itself. So you might wanna pay attention” Quavo.
So What !?
Fast forward to our present time and lets contemplate what Nutanix VDI on-premises offering means to Citrix specifically, other EUC vendors, and the EUC community as a whole. Citrix and Nutanix have been living in harmony and thriving for the past couple of years with Citrix supporting AHV and Nutanix prism-native Citrix Cloud integration. Both have also been engaged in marketing clichés in the “Hey Citrix“ “Hey Nutanix” tweets coinciding with VMworld EU 2018 announcements. Both have been also co-marketing and co-engaging customers in different regions positioning Citrix and AHV as the ultimate solution since both wouldn’t like to see VMware in any account. Nutanix and VMware in terms of EUC have nothing to do with one another except for the Workspace One App Express alliance and the mandatory request to use of vSphere for many customers so Horizon wise I don’t see any relation impact since both Nutanix and VMware are already fighting on the hypervisor and SDS fronts, why not add a new one .
Reading, analyzing, and contemplating the history and present of Nutanix positioning, marketing, and strategy, I can guarantee you that history is going to repeat itself and we are going to start seeing the relation between Citrix and Nutanix deteriorate from now on despite what optimists and idealists are going to say, it is what it is, a company wants to sell and position its own products at any expense and this will be at the expense of current and future Citrix deployments on AHV. Yes Xi Frame is not Citrix Workspace, but look at what Nutanix is trying to do with Flow, although it doesn’t come nearly close to VMware NSX, they are positioning it as a pure Micro-Segmentation product for a very cheap price to AHV customers, which makes complete sense to customers getting a full stack from a single vendor for a much lower price. The same will happen with Xi Frame and Nutanix first target is existing Citrix customers running on AHV, this is were it will all start going downhill.
A lot of CTP’s and Citrix advocates that have moved to work with Nutanix will need to stick to the new narrative after having being working, marketing, and promoting Citrix technology for so long now. Given Nutanix history with VMware, believe me when I say that the new on-premises VDI narrative for Xi Frame is going to be the least to say aggressive and impulsive, same as the likes Workspot tried to pull off failing miserably, but now with a company having Citrix and VMware gurus on-board to sell that narrative to customers with a product that doesn’t use RDP but uses a propriety protocol that has proven itself worthy of competing. I am not worried of VDI protocol war and/or competition which is definitely healthy, but I am only worried on the strategy, narrative, and approach Nutanix will take in competing with VDI products out there which would potentially tarnish and divide the seemingly united EUC community.
Having been following the EUC community for a while now, I find it to be a very united friendly bunch of geeks that love end user computing though many prefer and promote different products and technologies. Even Citrix and VMware EUC CTO’s have very good social media interactions. The competition between Citrix and VMware enthusiasts has always been a classy one with words like FUD and images of pealed bananas never appeared at least publicly. Taking the same approach to EUC as the HCI social media and community interactions, most of which is Nutanix driven, is going to be a disaster on so many levels for the EUC community. I can see it happening soon, especially when Xi Frame starts supporting vSphere, and later on introduces more EUC features that it currently lacks for on-premises. I am not saying its inevitable, it will depend on the narrative and approach Nutanix Xi Frame personnel want to take but if they stick to the same HCI approach, its going to be a very messed up community and FUD filled competition. Even if the Pro’s stick to the current community harmony, Nutanix sales are unfortunately the worst I have seen in this market, especially in the approach they take in attacking opposing vendors, and the amount of FUD they try to sell to customers, most of them spend more time talking about competition then their own value to customers, which makes the whole situation even worse.
Update: One of the best responses came from Frame former CTO and current Nutanix Sr. Technologist Ruben Spruijt which was most classy in tackling this and extremely respectful, thank you for being such a sports and I believe everyone in the community shares this optimism:
After tons of back and forth responses with many Nutanix employees, advocates, champions and fanatics, seems to me that most of them were not part of the HCI history of the company, others just don’t understand the whole narrative this is built-on or simply acknowledge it, and some just chose to tackle the whole CTP/EUC hirings section without wanting to understand the subject in hand. Yes the EUC community are different people but Nutanix is the same company, for this whole narrative to be false, Nutanix approach to marketing, strategy, sales, pitch, and positioning would need to differ drastically from what they did with HCI and that’s the whole story my opinion is based on which only time will tell.
“Nutanix Frame is going to run everywhere“ Dheeraj Pandey .
We have seen history repeat itself for thousands of years and I don’t think this going to be an exception. My very humble opinion is that Nutanix entering the EUC world is going to be a disaster for the EUC community and is going to turn competition to the worst. I sincerely hope I am wrong but only time will tell.