Five short years ago this month in sunny San Jose, Dheeraj Panday founded a company that was to change the face of the IT industry as we know it. I wonder if, way back in September 2009, Dheeraj realised quite what a behemoth his little company, Nutanix, would become.
Built on the foundations of consumer-grade design and web-scale engineering, Nutanix quietly set about transforming the data centre by natively converging compute and storage into a single solution, the Virtual Computing Platform, to drive unprecedented simplicity in the data centre.
And so the dream of scaling converged infrastructure from a single server to several thousands whilst maintaining predictable performance and economics was born.
As company spokesperson, Scott Beaver put it, ‘It’s useful to think of it in terms of a smartphone. We used to carry around a device for talking on the phone, another for taking picture and a third for getting email and keeping our calendar. Today we have a converged single device. And this is what’s happening in the data centre as well.’
Fast forward to 2014 and Nutanix revenue growth has surpassed nearly every other unsuspecting data centre infrastructure company in IT history. In less than three years of shipping product the company has annualised bookings exceeding a run rate of $200 million and more than 800 customers in 43 countries.
With this staggering achievement in such a short space of time, this month’s announcement of the company securing Round E funding to the tune of $140 million should come as no surprise. This latest round brings the total raised to $312 million in just five years with a company valuation of $2 billion. Historically ‘Unicorn’ companies ($1B valuation) have taken an average of seven years to recognise a ‘liquidity event’. With the recent company valuation, Nutanix is defying all rules of the game and is literally making Unicorn Club history.
The real surprise this month was that, with a valuation of $2 billion, they decided to take another round of funding instead of going public. Dheeraj is under no illusions about the challenge ahead of him and is playing the long game: ‘By staying private for another year or so, if we could take really good care of our employees, customers, and partners, we’d have built the foundation of a company that will take really good care of it’s investors when its public. We’re barely scratching the surface of what Nutanix could some day be.’
So what to do about it? Get out of their way…
The analogy of converged mobile phones is a fitting one given the similarities between Apple’s hand to hand combat assault of the mobile phone industry back in 2007 and Nutanix’ unapologetic declaration of war against industry giants such as Cisco and EMC.
Nutanix are at the centre of a $50 billion addressable market and it’s going to be a tough fight. But if their recent astounding success is anything to go by my money is on them doing some serious damage.
Your move Cisco and EMC. It’s on!
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