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Nutanix gobbling Pernix – why not?

Flash cacher gets undermined by cheapening flash

chef presents a roast chicken in pomegranate sauce. Photo by Shutterstock
Could PernixData be a tasty dish for Nutanix?

Comment Rumour has it Nutanix is talking to Pernix Data about a possible acquisition. It could be a good thing for Nutanix and, of course, its customers.

All DCs are brown fields

If Nutanix's masterplan is to become the management platform for any data centre, it has to expand its product line. It is already at it, as I wrote a few weeks ago, but it could be necessary to do more and faster to fuel the growth the market expects from it.

The technical reason is simple. Now it can manage HCI, physical workloads (thanks to the introduction of iSCSI volumes exposed to external servers) as well as the cloud, but Nutanix still needs another piece to complete the whole picture. It needs to include existing "legacy" virtual infrastructures.

For the vast majority of enterprises it's not easy to change existing architectures and the lifecycle of infrastructures is between three and seven years. In some cases, server and storage purchases follow different paths and have different time frames making it harder to adopt an HCI infrastructure. All of this can undermine Nutanix's success rate. Giving options to the potential customer means Nutanix can facilitate the migration by moving component after component, when needed. Once the end user has adopted Prism, Nutanix management platform, it's much easier to do upselling and manage the transition to HCI in a much more seamless fashion than today.

Cache is a temporary solution

I was sceptical from the start: cache is just a feature after all… and even worse, flash prices have dropped so quickly that it [cache] is no longer needed for new infrastructures.

Don't get me wrong, Pernix is a lovely company, with a nice product which offers real benefits if you have an old, disk-based shared storage infrastructure. But, it becomes useless (or less relevant) when you migrate to a modern Flash array or HCI (or cloud). Yes, we could argue that Pernix has an analytics feature now, but let me say that it is too little, too late.

Pernix is scrambling to find additional funding, but its user base isn't growing enough and today VCs are less inclined to give money without the necessary guarantees of future success.

But the fact that cache is a temporary solution is great for Nutanix. It can cover more workloads and pieces of the infrastructure while giving options to its end users. Just one more feature for its platform, and it could be added to the portfolio as a subscription instead of a full licence.

Closing the circle

I think it is of interest to note that Nutanix took out a loan of $75m one month ago. Most pundits agree that it needs that money because of the delayed IPO. I'm sure it's true, I'm not a financial analyst after all, but how about a smarter move?

Pernix is not profitable at all and it raised $62m in total. $75m seems legit to repay investors and buy all of Pernix's intellectual property… I don't think you can ask more than that if you want to save the company and investors' money at the same time.

Nutanix is one of the most aggressive companies I have ever met. It has a plan and it is pushing hard to realise it. Pernix could be another bullet in its arsenal… or, let me be cynical here, they could help some investors to get their money back, then these guys would be more than willing to invest more in Nutanix or help to make the IPO a success.

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