Cloud Computing

Nimble Storage CEO sees system monitoring as ace in the hole

Nimble Storage is a phenomenon of the modern datacentre storage. Together with a bunch of other raiders like Nutanix, Pure Storage and PernixData it has traumatised enterprise storage industry incumbents by providing a fast alternative. Nimble is best known for its software that optimises workloads for Flash solid-state media, promising to generate speed, release capacity and build in data protection. But when we met in London recently, CEO Suresh Vasudevan was just as keen to talk about what he sees as its ace in the hole: a management cloud layer that lets it provide deep data feedback and support to customers.

“Every few minutes every system deployed globally is sending us performance information, health status updates, about the VMs, the interconnects they’re running on,” he says. “Billions of data points.”

That data is generated by Nimble’s InfoSight monitoring software and, although customers can view it too, Nimble uses that data proactively, almost as a cloud service provider might take away the admin chore from a customer.

“Ninety-three per cent of support cases are us contacting the customer,” he says. “It might be the cooling is not working well and SNMP traps didn’t spot it, or it may be how databases are replicating and giving replication bandwidth advice or bug advisories.”

This isn’t pure altruism of course. Vasudevan says Nimble has not needed to hire a single Level 1 support engineer and time-to-resolution is shrunk. Also, by providing this premium level of service there’s more chance that customers will “land and expand” – that is, spend more on Nimble in the long run.

“When we land a customer, over the course of the next two years they come back and consistently do more with us,” Vasudevan says. Nimble’s resellers also get to “watch over their assets” and there are internal advantages too.

“Any feature development we do we use the heuristics on how to optimise, for example the way cache delivers application performance. We check how SQL Server and Exchange uses it et cetera.”

San Jose-based Nimble is maturing. It has 5,500 customers, grew 81% to $228m for its last financial year and has a market cap of about $2bn. But a portion of the upside that Vasudevan sees is that opportunity to get more wallet share from existing customers because within eight quarters, he says, customers typically double or, in the case of larger customers most often, quadruple their spending on Nimble.

Predictably enough, Nimble’s success has also led to speculation that Cisco, EMC or some other mega-force could buy it. Vasudevan plays this chatter down and suggests partnerships would be a better route for the giants rather than risking a breakdown of empires built on other platforms. To that end Nimble works with Cisco, VMware, Oracle, CommVault, Microsoft, Citrix and others to offer integrated packages through its SmartStack programme.

Vasudevan sees an industry going through profound change. He is an ex-NetApp executive but, just as many technology sectors have been disintermediated, he sees another one ripe for an overhaul – and wants to play a full part.


Also read:

PernixData applies VMware thinking to storage

VCE disrupts datacentre disruptors

SimpliVity joins the unicorns on the back of hyperconvergence

Nimble grows with slimmer, smarter storage

Pure Storage leads flash-y charge

Dell cosies up to Nutanix

Nutanix gains on demand for Google-like datacentres


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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