Execs: BlueData, Nutanix Partnership Illustrates Future of VARs in the Data Center

Earlier this year, Wikibon published a study that showed the global big data market will grow from $18.3 billion in 2014 to $92.2 billion by 2026, representing an astonishing 14.4 percent compound annual growth rate.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

May 19, 2016

5 Min Read
Execs: BlueData, Nutanix Partnership Illustrates Future of VARs in the Data Center

Earlier this year, Wikibon published a study that showed the global big data market will grow from $18.3 billion in 2014 to $92.2 billion by 2026, representing an astonishing 14.4 percent compound annual growth rate. As enterprises seek to become more data-driven, they’ve adopted more and more big data platforms and streaming services, in addition to vast, complicated hardware setups to store and process the ever-growing amount of information generated by 21st century businesses.

The prevalence of big data software and hardware solutions has led to an environment of complexity and opacity in the data center that companies depend on the channel to help them navigate. In fact, today 40 percent of all spending on big data goes to professional services that exist specifically to help enterprises make all of that technology work together.

However, Wikibon sees this situation changing. By 2026, it projects that spending on professional services will drop to 29 percent. Meanwhile, revenues allocated toward software solutions will rise to 46 percent, up from 29 percent today. So what will account for this transposition of software and services spending? And what happens to the VAR business model?

The VAR Guy sat down with Kumar Sreekanti and Greg Kirchoff of BlueData, a data analytics software company that recently announced its EPIC software platform has earned the “Nutanix Ready” validation. Like Wikibon, Sreekanti, co-founder and CEO, and Kirchoff, vice president of Business Development, foresee a day when the data center is simplified by software instead of service providers. But when one door closes, another opens, and they believe the opportunities provided by the next evolution of big data will lead to big money for the channel.

The Big Data Evolution

Because “big data” has become such a ubiquitous business buzzword, it can be easy to forget that it’s practically a brand new phenomenon. More data has been created in the last two years than in the entire previous history of the human race, and that’s only going to grow.

Most of the early users of big data were single users in a single application. That’s very different today, when every line of business wants access to the data to run their own analysis. Enterprises need to figure out how to harness data, and to do that, they need to focus on analytics instead of setting up large clusters of nodes and wrangling software compatibility. That’s the problem Sreekanti set out to solve when he left his position as vice president of R&D for VMware’s cloud infrastructure business unit to found BlueData four years ago.

“We found an opportunity to provide an agile, elastic infrastructure that allows consumers of big data to consume the data easily without having to build a fifteen node cluster,” he says. “We jokingly say it takes 50,000 mouse clicks to create a cluster. With BlueData, you can create it in five.”

Advanced technology that its makers hope you never see

Kirchoff and Sreekanti say that today’s enterprise customers are tired of spending money trying to spin up their infrastructure. They’re ready to see their resources go to actual analysis so they can begin to realize some returns on their data investments.

“This is the beauty about where BlueData and Nutanix come together,” Kirchoff says. “We literally can come in and very quickly set up the infrastructure, eliminate a lot of the CAPEX and OPEX requirements, and then have the VARs go out and spend time on the analysis. Which is exactly where the enterprise and the CIOs want to be spending their money.”

In the last couple of years, hyper-convergence startup Nutanix has pulled ahead of its competitors, including some tech incumbents trying to make inroads into the hyper-converged infrastructure space, largely through strategic partnerships that directly impact the channel. Lenovo, Dell and Microsoft are all partners of Nutanix, which currently holds a $2 billion-plus valuation.

BlueData’s goal of providing enterprises software that greatly simplifies the complexities of data management falls well in line with Nutanix’s “invisible infrastructure” value proposition. “Customers want this data, and they want to be able to do this analysis on premises,” says Sreekanti. “They’re struggling now to do this on bare metal, doing it themselves, stitching together lots of pieces of software to try to Frankenstein something together. Nutanix and BlueData come pre-integrated and make all of that ugliness invisible.”

Kirchoff describes the partnership as organic, saying the two companies were brought together by customer demand. Still in its early stages, he says the integration is very black and white as they work together to create something that is truly scalable. “We haven’t gotten tricky yet.”

But the possibilities are promising, and Kirchoff and Sreekanti see broad applicability, an increasing rarity in a technology environment that focuses more on vertical-specific applications than solutions that serve industries across the board. “It’s mind boggling the kinds of things we’ll be able to do, because we have such a synergy on our value proposition and the way we look at the market,” Kirchoff laughs. “As of right now, we’re just trying to catch up with customer demand.”

What lies ahead

Given the rapid evolution of big data, some channel partners may be wondering what comes next. Sreekanti offers resellers and service providers three technical trends he says we’ll see more of in the coming years thanks to hyper-convergence.

  1. Data analysis will move from batch processing to real time in-memory base processing as clusters give way to tightly coupled systems that have a much higher performance characterization.

  2. Flat architectures will become the norm as data lakes take the place of hierarchical data warehouses.

  3. Infrastructure complexity will be reduced through big data “app stores” that simplify software version compatibility within the data center.

Resellers who make their living off of the installation and setup of big data hardware and software should prepare for the coming sea change, to be sure, Kirchoff says. But given the enormity of the big data market, there is plenty of opportunity for the channel. From BlueData’s point of view, the exciting thing is that, freed of the need to spend all their time on the monotony of cluster configuration, VARs will be able to providing tangible ROI through advanced analytics.

“If we provide [resellers] a very useful tool that obscures all of the complexity of the infrastructure and allows them to spend their time and focus on helping their customers get to insights on the data,” he says, “that is not only going to strengthen the relationship, but also make a very sizable business for the VAR community. I think big data in the converged space is going to be an enormous tool for the VAR community.”

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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