Nutanix channel chief on driving VDI to combat coronavirus

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Nutanix channel chief on driving VDI to combat coronavirus

Nutanix is working harder than ever to enable businesses to quickly adapt to the new work-at-home norm amidst the coronavirus pandemic as “the enterprise has temporarily moved to the home,” with VDI becoming “paramount,” said Nutanix’s channel chief Christian Alvarez.

“There’s a big assumption out in the industry and we’re hearing it from a lot of customers which is, ‘Hey, if I buy this solution from you, are the channel partners in business? How can they deploy it? Do they have engineers that are going out in the field?’” said Alvarez vice president of Americas channel, OEM and distribution at Nutanix in an interview with CRN. “So one main message to partners is, just make yourself visible to your customers and let them know that your open to business.”

The San Jose, Calif.-based hyperconverged and software specialist is striving to help its customers via channel partners set up and deploy a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as fast as possible with the launch of FastTrack for VDI. The new offer can create a VDI environment and onboard thousands of remote employees in days, compared to months, thanks to pre-built configurations, fast delivery times and rapid VDI deployment assistance.

In an interview with CRN, Alvarez talks about the new FastTrack for VDI, how Nutanix is internally handling the coronavirus and what channel partners should be doing right now to help their customers’ IT needs during the pandemic. “There’s many partners doing a lot of incredible and heroic things out in the market right now to help our customers,” he said.

What’s happening internally at Nutanix right now?

The majority of the workforce is working from home on a worldwide basis. We are here. We are operating. We’re supporting our customers. We’re fielding support calls. We’re helping our partners with deployments. We are fulfilling deployments. For us, aside from this horrific situation we’re all in as humans, we are full steam ahead. Our leadership is stronger than ever. We’ve all been really proud of seeing our technology helping people, helping healthcare, helping education, helping the enterprise -- we are really proud of that.

We are all practicing safety guidelines that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given us. Nutanix’s top priority is our employees and the safety of our partners and customers.

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Talk about the launch of FastTrack for VDI? How important is this new offering?

The enterprise has temporarily moved to the home. We’ve also realized that VDI has become paramount. We’ve witnessed that in the incredible growth in demand that we’ve seen in our VDI products. FastTrack is designed to really help our partners and enable workforce [transformation] in record time for their customers.

I would define FastTrack in five simple core elements: configuration, delivery, deployment, enhanced partner incentives and support. For configuration, what we’ve done with FastTrack is prebuild simplified quotes based on just a few user types and some capacity consumptions. So it’s real simple for the partners to design and build. Another area we’ve simplified for FastTrack is delivery. Based on certain products, we get it to partners and ultimately to customers in less than 15 days. So again, time to product has also been simplified with efficiency there. Around deployment, which is very critical, the partners have access to Nutanix services. So we’re providing assistance for rapid deployment. We’re able to leverage deployments in days, not months. For enhanced partner incentives in FastTrack, we’ve expanded it to not just incentivize the partner, but also reward the individuals. Lastly, with our award winning customer services, we’re providing rapid support to our partners and to our customers around FastTrack.

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In terms of channel incentives, is Nutanix incenting staff like partner sales reps and system engineers?

Yes, both. We’re incentivizing on the partner side based on certain variables.

What type of pre-defined Nutanix hardware is leveraged in FastTrack for VDI and talk about delivery speed?

It takes about 15 days to deliver the Nutanix NX product. Obviously our VDI solutions, like all Nutanix solutions, work with our awesome partners like HPE, Lenovo and others. We’re seeing deployments can be within days based on certain scenarios and the customers environment. We’ve seen deployments where customers who are new to Nutanix in under 30 days. It’s a big range. There’s a lot of variables and influencing factors – partner safety, customer safety, if we need to send out engineers or the partner needs to send out engineers – all of that is being considered in the deployment times.

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Why should partners jump on board with FastTrack for VDI?

Obviously, it’s lucrative, but beyond that it’s really our social responsibility that a lot of us have to help our customers in these tough times. Partners are recognizing time to value. At the end of the day, Nutanix builds incredible products that are helping customers through this time of need. We’re really proud of that and the partners that are going above and beyond. There’s many partners doing a lot of incredible and heroic things out in the market right now to help our customers. We’re seeing this stuff being deployed in healthcare, mission critical -- just so many industries that it’s great to see our technology being put to good use and helping people. … We’re making an easy button for VDI.

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Aside from VDI, what should Nutanix partners be selling right now?

So aside from VDI, looking at existing customers that need to scale. Do they have the right infrastructure? Do they have the right compute environment? So making sure their doing assessments as customers are scaling their VDI infrastructure. If you pivot away from VDI and look at existing workloads, a lot of this infrastructure when it was originally designed was probably designed to work on campus within a local area network (LAN). Well now that the enterprise has extended out to the home in a major way, partners should be leveraging a lot of our tools to make sure customers have the correct infrastructure so that they can continue to scale. As we’ve all heard, the stay at home and the social distances have been extended to the end of April. We’re just seeing workloads continuing to run hot and being stressed. So Nutanix offers our partners some great tools to make sure their running their environment and infrastructure in the most efficient way possible.

You look at healthcare, a lot of healthcare professionals are working at home accessing customer records. You look at distance learning and education, higher-education or ever K-12 -- I’ve been hearing on the news that a lot of these distance learning programs that they’ve made available to the public schools didn’t work this past week for schools that opened up after spring break. And their networks failed. Those are some important things that our partners should be focusing on to help.

What’s your advice to channel partners during the coronavirus pandemic?

I would say the headline is, ‘We’re open for business’. There’s a big assumption out in the industry and we’re hearing it from a lot of customers which is, ‘Hey, if I buy this solution from you, are the channel partners in business? How can they deploy it? Do they have engineers that are going out in the field?’ So one main message to partners is, just make yourself visible to your customers and let them know that your open to business. A lot of the stuff that Nutanix makes, which is all software, a lot of it can be deployed remotely. It doesn’t require a physical body to go in front of a server or to go to a colocation facility or data center. In those cases that are required, partners just need to make it known that they’re open to business. That would be my biggest advice because that’s the biggest thing that we’re constantly hearing.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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