Nimble Storage CEO sticks it to rivals

Small businessman vs large businessman

Nimble Storage (NYSE:NMBL) CEO Suresh Vasudevan claims the tide is turning against storage giants such as EMC (NYSE:EMC) and NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP) in favour of newer and smaller market players like the Flash vendor.

Speaking to Channel Pro, Vasudevan described 2014 as “a watershed year” for the firm when customers started considering Nimble a credible alternative to its established rivals.

“More than at any point in my tenure, I have never seen customers more willing to say, ‘what alternatives should I look at to my EMC or my NetApp environment?’” he says.

“In the past I thought it was a dogfight to get into every customer and explain our technology, now customers are at least considering emerging storage solutions, simply because they’re concerned about being left behind as the evolution towards Flash-optimised architectures is going on.”

He adds that the last 12 months have seen established storage vendors experience “significant impact from all of the disruption in our industry.”

He comments: “If I look the results of those companies in 2014 or the first half of 2015, all are seeing a decline in sales of their core storage products. NetApp had a very difficult start to the year with a double digit decline in product revenues…EMC saw a decline in its VMAX product line…HP (NYSE:HPQ) saw negative product revenue growth in storage, IBM (NYSE:IBM) saw negative product revenue growth in storage, and so on.

“Companies that account for 70+ percent of the market are all seeing negative growth and in many ways I believe this is a reflection of the disruption taking place in the storage industry,” he says.

While Nimble initially built its business in the midmarket, Vasudevan says much of the vendor’s growth now comes from the large enterprise and cloud service providers. He says out of the San Jose-based vendor’s 5,500 customers worldwide, 350 are global enterprises, with bookings in the segment doubling year-on-year.

This, he says, is down to product innovations introduced in 2014. These include adding scale-out clustering to its platform, and fibre channel to its product line-up – both of which leverage Flash in high performance environments where he says customers may have previously opted for solution like a VMAX deployment from EMC.

International growth

20 percent of Nimble’s growth comes from outside US, with the UK its largest international market with “several hundred customers”. With all of its sales going through the channel, Vasudevan says its focus in mature markets like the UK is more on partner enablement rather than recruitment.

He adds: “We want to pick the 20, 30, 40 partners in the UK that we want to go deep with and we focus on growing with those partners.”

The vendor launched a new channel programme in March of this year that saw partners separated into tiers for the first time. This, says the exec, has been received well by the channel: “We were able to get in front of all of our partners and explain exactly what the programme was about,” he says.

Last year, Nimble reported revenue of $227.7m up 81 percent, from $125.7m in FY14.

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.