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BLOG: A conversation with Suresh Vasudevan, CEO of Nimble Storage

Larry Chaffin | May 16, 2013
How he is changing storage

The key difference though is that these service providers are looking for dramatically more efficient appliances. In fact, service providers are one of our fastest growing customer segments simply because we lower their capital costs dramatically, and shrink the footprint of what they deploy by a factor of five or more, which in turn lowers their power and cooling costs.

3. Who do you see as your biggest storage competitor and why?

In just two and a half years of shipping product, we have an installed base of over 1,100 customers and over 2,000 deployments. Our most frequently encountered storage vendors that account for over 80% of the engagements, are (i) EMC with their mid-range VNX products; (ii) NetApp with the FAS product line; and (iii) Dell with the Equallogic and Compellent product lines. Further, when we compete against these product lines, we are increasingly competing against these products as configured to include flash SSDs and HDDs, and not as disk-only configurations.

4. What is the difference and value add to your products?

There are five areas where we deliver substantial value relative to competitors, even when competitive products are configured to include flash SSDs and HDDs.

  • 3-5X Performance and capacity efficiency. Typically, to match the performance and capacity needs of an enterprise application, our storage systems require ~25% of the hardware required by competitive products. This efficiency stems from our software architecture that is able to deliver much higher write performance by converting random writes from applications into sequential writes on disk, and much better read performance by intelligently caching cache-worthy data on SSDs. Further, the system is very capacity efficient since it uses low-cost HDDs and employs inline data reduction to further reduce the cost of capacity.
  • Superior data protection. Besides storing primary application data, our software architecture facilitates storing hundreds to thousands of integrated de-duplicated and compressed backups (snapshots) along-side the primary application instance. Further, customers can replicate application data over WAN links for disaster recovery, while minimizing the bandwidth needed through built-in WAN optimization. The combination of snapshots and replication allows customers to improve their data protection dramatically, with the result that a lot less data is at risk due to disruptions and recovery is orders of magnitude faster if disruptions do occur.
  • Scale-to-fit. Our products are unique in that our customers can scale our products much more flexibly and in more granular increments than any other product in our industry - all without disrupting applications. If customers need more performance without needing more capacity, they can scale an existing Nimble system to upgrade controllers or increase the ratio of flash to disk in the system non-disruptively, without having to change the overall system capacity. In a similar manner, if customers need to increase system capacity but not the performance, they can do so by just adding incremental HDD-based enclosures. This ability to scale granularly and non-disruptively is unparalleled in our industry.
  • Administrative Simplicity and Hypervisor/Application Integration. One of the most common benefits that our customers repeatedly rave about is the ease of managing a Nimble environment, which stems from two areas. First, our systems are very simple to setup and manage on a day-to-day basis, since we designed to meet the needs of an IT generalist rather than assume a storage specialist as the administrator. Second, we have invested heavily in building deep application and hypervisor integration out of the box so that is much easier to integrate our products into a broader eco-system
  • Remote support automation. We have a unique approach to how we support our customers. By monitoring our customer-deployed systems remotely from our support center on a real-time basis, we are able to know when a system has a support incident at almost the same time as our customer. Further, by gathering millions of sensor values that give us an in-depth understanding of how our customer-deployed systems are performing, we are able to predict and prevent a large number of support incidents before they occur.


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