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Google deal with Nutanix shows its cloud strategy is broadening

  • Nutanix customers will be able to easily move application workloads to Google's cloud.
  • Nutanix CEO cites Google cloud head Diane Greene's enterprise legacy as a reason to work together.
Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey rings the Nasdaq opening bell in recognition of the company's initial public offering in September 2016.
Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey rings the Nasdaq opening bell in recognition of the company's initial public offering in September 2016.

Google is ready to accept that some big enterprises need help getting their critical workloads to the cloud.

Its parent Alphabet on Wednesday announced a partnership with Nutanix, whose data center hardware and software provides a hybrid approach that bridges the gap between on-premise servers and machines in big cloud data centers.

The deal is another indication that Nutanix, which held its stock market debut last year, is now embracing the public cloud as a viable infrastructure choice. Simultaneously it reflects how Google is becoming more receptive to the needs of enterprises.

"With public cloud, you have to meet them where they are -- that's becoming increasingly clear," Nan Boden, Google's head of global alliances, told CNBC in an interview. She said that in recent years Google had not cut major deals with data center hardware providers.

In the public cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services represent Google's biggest competition. Microsoft has been working to make its public cloud and private cloud tools match, while AWS has developed hardware and even trucks to facilitate the migration of data into its cloud.

Google, to date, has been less active in supporting cloud architectures that involve companies' existing on-premises infrastructure.

Nutanix does intend to support application deployment on AWS and Azure, although at this point it's working most closely with at Google.

Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey told CNBC that he's been particularly impressed with the head of Google's cloud, Diane Greene, who was previously co-founder and CEO of VMware.

"She always talked about VMware being the most non-disruptive disruptive technology company," Pandey said. Under Greene's leadership the Google cloud is more "aware of the mundane," he said.

The first integration resulting from the partnership, which will enable applications to move from on-premise data centers to Google's, will become available in the first quarter of 2018. Pricing details aren't available.

Most recently Greene announced that the consumer version of Gmail, which is available to businesses through the G Suite portfolio of applications, would not scan user input to personalize ads -- just like its G Suite equivalent.

And Nutanix's Google partnership comes a few months after Google started offering the SAP HANA database software atop its cloud. Additional SAP-Google integrations are on the way.

Nutanix software will enable applications to be wrapped in digital containers -- many of which can run on a single physical server, similar to virtual machines -- and deployed on Nutanix hardware or the Google cloud using Kubernetes, an open-source tool created by Google. Alternatives to Kubernetes include Docker's Swarm container cluster management software.

'We talked to a lot of folks and developers in the community and so on, and most everybody is saying it's going to be Kubernetes" as the top tool, Pandey said.

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