Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Nimble Storage - Two Weeks In

As promised, I figured that my first "proper" blog post would be about something useful; so why not start with my thoughts & experiences with my new employer Nimble Storage!

If you're not aware of who Nimble Storage are, the following paragraph from  Marketing sets the scene:

"Nimble Storage has created the industry's first flash-optimised storage engineered from the ground up for maximum efficiency. Nimble Storage solutions integrate the exceptional performance of flash with the cost advantages of high-capacity hard disk drives—making it ideal for storing and protecting data for critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, server virtualisation, and VDI."

I had heard of Nimble from quite a few avenues both on and offline over the last couple of years (huge unsubtle nod to Tech Field Day). The organisation came out of stealth in 2010 (founded by some of the clever fellows behind Data Domain, Netapp and others) with the intention of breaking the link between buying lots of spinning disk and the performance associated with said amounts of spinning disk. That subject is another blog post altogether…

At my previous employer (Xsigo Systems) we had hired quite a few ex-Data Domain teams in the US in 2009/2010. Within a period of 3-4 months in 2010 they had all left to join this new organisation called Nimble Storage. These were some of the most successful and technically apt people that I had worked with in my IT career and so the company was immediately put on my radar from that point on. Of course, being an ex EqualLogic/Storage bod also meant that it was something I could get excited about.

Nimble Storage has been in the EMEA market now for just over a year (operations started in Nov 2011), and there has already been 100 arrays purchased and shipped into the market during that time. That is SOME start. And the ambitions for the company meant that the team needed to scale quickly with expertise from sales & techies that had been there & done that with iSCSI storage, VMware & the channel.

November 19th was my official start date for the company, and I was the 3rd "SE" (Systems Engineer) in the UK. Exciting stuff!

So - as promised, my experiences and thoughts about the company & technology after two weeks. This is in no specific order exactly:

1. The technology is something truly special. I'm a geek at heart - and I need to be excited and enthused about the technology that I'm promoting. I loved EqualLogic, and too a degree I loved Xsigo. This is another product which makes you sit back and think "wow, how have they done that", rather than working for HP/Dell/IBM/EMC where it's mostly bolt on's to the same old technology which has been around for donkey's years.

2. The team I work with and report into are some VERY clever guys. I'm talking about the original management & sales structure that took Netapp to it's success in the early 2000's, and then Data Domain likewise in the late 2000's. Some very well respected and intelligent people are here in sales, marketing, engineering and at management/board level - as apposed to your traditional employer where there is a mix of good guys and coasters/lifers.

3. It's all about the channel. This is something I feel very strongly about, especially as a small startup trying to address the frankly massive UK market. The channel partners are the key to whether said organisations succeed or fail, and it amazes me how many companies believe they can run either a poor channel program or run a Direct Touch model with the market. It doesn't scale, it causes friction with the partner market & ultimately it makes your job 100x harder. So I was delighted to hear that Nimble is 100% channel driven, with the focus on investing in said partners to make them self sufficient to be able to present, demo & install for customers. Doing this rewards the channel & makes them more valuable to the business and customers - who see's value in a middleman pushing a PO, shifting some tin and making margin from that?

4. It's winning. A LOT. I have been here for approximately 13 working days (at time of writing) and the amount of internal 'win alerts' i've seen are staggering - 88 separate customer wins in 13 working days. The business has amassed over 800 customers now in just over two years of selling. I think that says it all really. From looking through those wins, 60-70% of them are where we've directly competed with either EMC or Dell EqualLogic/Compellent. The reasons are around performance, cost, functionality, or snapshots/backups. Excellent!

5. First deal about to close. I don't think i've ever worked at a place where the technology is so compelling (and at the right price) that it can win business in days rather than weeks or months. However it *could* happen here (big thank you to Dell Compellent for being as crap as it's always been for making the customer look elsewhere). Obviously there will be times when we will lose deals to the competition on either features or price, or even politics/hidden agendas. But if it's a straight up POC on functionality, performance, snapshots or replication against the mid-tier competition, I can't see it losing much of the time, and that fills me with confidence. Right product, right time.

6. This IS hard work. Make no mistake about it - working at startups is NOT easy. There are all sorts of internal headaches as well as external perception/marketing/pricing/channel subjects that are tough to navigate. HP, Dell and especially EMC sell so much tin purely because of a badge and name in the market. Sad but true.

So there we go. My first blog post, about why I joined Nimble, and what excites me about the opportunity of being here after the first couple of weeks on the job.

If you have questions, comments, abuse or recommendations for future topics please feel free to leave them below.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hello World

So here we are. December 2012 and I decide to open up my own blog site.

I genuinely thought that this day would never come; I never truly believed that I would become one of those people that write about their experiences on a self-indulgent website. Not that there's anything WRONG with that, at all.

I have huge respect for people that write their experiences & gotchas online for all to see. I have used this information for years to discover the latest and greatest releases from my competition (vendor Press Releases are seldom useful and actually contain the information needed about what they're writing about!), for example. Or new releases from my partner vendors who are releasing new features or gotchas about a product I was interested in. I just figured that I would never have time (or the patience) to create postings (with diagrams) about my experiences in the field.

However, I have bitten the bullet, and I'm going to give it a go. Please bear with me. I'm learning on the job here. But I intend to fill this space with useful findings from my day job and interests.

My first "proper" post will be about my first two weeks at my new employer "Nimble Storage". Expect it imminently!