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There is ongoing tension between VMware and Nutanix these days

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January 25, 2017

It looks like the ongoing tension between Nutanix and VMware these days has spilled over into VMware's user groups, which have decided to exclude volunteers who work for competitors.

That decision has left both vendors somewhat diminished and the user groups' governing body facing some potential backlash by individual user groups.

The story actually starts in the last few days of 2016, between Christmas and New Year's Day, when some leaders of individual VMware user groups were thanked for their voluntary service but told they were no longer welcome to serve on groups' leadership committees.

Would-be sponsors of VMware user group conferences, day-long events that can attract hundreds of attendees, were also told that they and their money weren't welcome anymore.

The volunteers' and vendors' 'mistake' was either working for or being considered a VMware competitor.

Nutanix wasn't pleased at all. The company competes with VMware in hypervisors, SDN storage and hyperconverged infrastructure, but is also a decent source of sales for VMware, nevertheless.

So the question that some might ask: is this a lose-lose proposition? Excluding Nutanix or any vendor seems a little odd for two reasons. First, being owned by Dell EMC, selling management tools and offering virtual storage simply means that VMware overlaps with lots of its partners.

But the company has found several ways to maintain cooperative and cordial relationships, nevertheless.

Number two, VMware takes pains to point out that VMUG, the organization that runs VMware user groups and serves as their main body, is independent from VMware itself.

The way it works is that VMware funds VMUG and then sends its people to speak at individual user group meetings or user conferences, but officially has a hands-off approach to the operation of both VMUG and its affiliated user groups.

If VMUG were truly independent, it's difficult to see how a user group has a role fighting VMware's conflicts with competitors or setting the tone of its relationship in the virtualization ecosystem.

Knowing that there's a legal foundation for the decision to exclude vendors doesn't explain why VMUG made it. Chicago VMUG leader Eric Shanks did blog about his exchange with the CEO of VMware.

Shanks asserts that he was told the reasons for the volunteers being moved on and sponsors excluded were a decision focused on companies that compete directly with VMwares products and comes down to a decision about business and competition.

We asked him to explain which vendors had been excluded, and why. He replied I have no further comments on the subject. VMUG is focusing on serving our members and achieving our goals for 2017.

Another leader of an individual VMUG who works for Nutanix tells us another VMUG volunteer is yet to follow through on a promised conversation to discuss the whole situation. We'll keep you posted.

Source: VMware.


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