About one year into his tenure as CEO of Nutanix, Rajiv Ramaswami is closing in on some of his biggest priorities for the company: transitioning to a subscription-based business and getting to free cash flow profitability by the end of this calendar year. Some of his other top goals -- building up partnerships and simplifying the Nutanix portfolio -- contribute to a larger aim: Making the cloud invisible.
What does it mean to make the cloud invisible? First, it's important to understand the long shadow that the cloud has cast over the enterprise. Ten years after Nutanix got its start breaking down data center silos, "the new silos are the clouds," Ramaswami told ZDNet, and "every cloud is somewhat different."
Nutanix on Tuesday released its fourth annual global Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) survey and research report, revealing how committed enterprises are to a multi-cloud approach in spite of ongoing challenges. The survey, which polled 1,700 IT decision-makers worldwide in August and September 2021, showed that multi-cloud is currently the most commonly used deployment model. Adoption should jump to 64% in the next three years. At the same time, 87% of respondents agreed that multi-cloud success requires simpler management across mixed-cloud infrastructures.
"Companies have to train themselves and their teams to use every one of these clouds," Ramaswami said. "And they're not necessarily just very limited in portability; they're also very limited in flexibility."
To make the cloud invisible, "We take this one platform -- one software stack that we deliver -- and make it available everywhere," Ramaswami explained. Customers can use Nutanix on Amazon Web Services and in preview on Microsoft Azure, giving them access to the same tools to operate across clouds.
Nutanix has zeroed in on a few specific hybrid multi-cloud use cases customers are interested in: leveraging the flexible capacity of the cloud, disaster recovery and cloud migration. The retailer Land's End, for instance, uses Nutanix's software on-premise but, during the holiday season, uses it to burst to the cloud.
"With our stack in AWS, they don't have to retrain any of their teams and don't have to change applications," Ramaswami said.
The ECI survey sheds light on some of the other big challenges that IT teams have to overcome when operating in multiple clouds: Respondents said their biggest multi-cloud issues were managing security (49%), data integration (49%) and cost (43%) across cloud borders.
As it simplifies its portfolio to address those needs and make the cloud "invisible," Nutanix adds about 700 new customers a quarter.
Ramaswami is also making sure the company can work effectively with other players in the multi-cloud ecosystem, like public cloud providers and channel partners.
"The partner ecosystem will continue to grow, no doubt about it -- channel partners to scale our business, that's one area for us," Ramaswami said. As for the public cloud providers, Nutanix will be "doubling down with the big ones we have already," he said. "Some of these partnerships are quite deep."
For instance, Nutanix is jointly developing its offering with Microsoft for bare metal. They also have a joint go-to-market strategy.