As I fly home from a two-week visit to customers, prospects and partners in Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney, I’m thrilled at the progress we’ve made introducing our enterprise data storage arrays throughout the region.
A Strong Foundation
Over the course of the last six months, our Asia-Pacific team, led by Peter O’ Connor, has laid a very strong foundation:
- An incredible team. Our team has grown very quickly from two employees six months ago to 14 employees now, with four more joining us in the next two weeks. What is so gratifying is that the team has quickly embraced the culture, is very experienced, and is truly passionate about the value proposition of our technology.
- We have attracted very experienced channel partners to join the Nimble community. In the space of just six months, we have recruited about 30 partners in Australia and in Singapore, and I had an opportunity to meet with over half of them. Almost all the partners resell storage systems from one or both of the market leaders, EMC and NetApp, and bring an enormous amount of industry experience to bear. They clearly see the disruptive potential of our products that are designed ground-up to intelligently leverage flash SSDs. They also see the value we bring to their customers – in dramatically lowering the capital cost of storage, improving data protection service levels and making the management of storage much simpler.
- A rapidly growing installed base. In Australia, we already have an installed base of over 40 deployments – spanning a wide range of workloads including databases, Microsoft Exchange, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and file services, most often deployed in virtualized environments. I met with several of our customers, most of whom are willing to act as a reference and talk about their Nimble experience.
A Scorching Pace of Activity
At the end of two weeks, I came back with no doubt in my mind that we are on the verge of explosive growth in the region. What convinced me is the sheer pace of activity that the team is able to sustain:
- Meeting 50+ prospective customers. Over the course of five different round-table conversations and many one-on-one meetings, I had a chance to present the Nimble story to many different prospects, several of whom are in various stages of deploying proof of concept projects with us.
- Peer-to-peer networking event with ~40 customers in attendance. On the last day of my trip, we held a terrific customer peer-to-peer event, coordinated by Amy Webb on our marketing team. The highlight of the event was when two of our early customers, Australian Institute of Management and M&C Saatchi, presented their evaluation process and the concrete benefits they saw from deploying Nimble.
- Meetings with key leaders at our strategic alliance partners. I also got a chance to meet with the key leaders at Cisco, VMware, and CommVault. It was gratifying to see corporate alliances translating into meaningful and productive field relationships.
Coincidentally, one of our most recent customers in New Zealand is an avid blogger, who at the same time shared a couple of posts about his early impressions of deploying Nimble:
- Storage Efficiency with Nimble Compression
- Initial Performance Impressions of Nimble Storage
The prospective customers I met with represented a wide range of industries, and included mid-sized enterprises as well as very large enterprises. Some of the engagements we are working on include Australia’s largest enterprises in the financial services sector, government agencies, retailers, universities, telecommunications companies, media companies and professional services organizations – many of whom are in the process of conducting active pilots. These organizations share our conviction that a major transformation is underway in storage architectures because of flash solid-state drives (SSDs): hybrid systems that intelligently marry the complementary benefits of flash SSDs and low-cost, high-density hard disk drives (HDDs) are displacing traditional disk-centric storage platforms, with incumbent storage companies unable to compete against ground-up designs. The best moments were when our customers presented their experiences at the peer-to-peer networking event –significant capital cost reductions, operating cost reductions, and improved recoverability through the use of snapshots and replication.
Some Unique Attributes
Customer perspectives around storage tend to be similar across geographies, but there were a couple of attributes that struck me as being different about the market in Australia.
First, IT organizations in Australia seem much more willing to adopt new technologies if the technology and benefits are compelling. The pace at which Australia adopted server virtualization is a good proof point of this market characteristic. Second, private cloud and public cloud deployments are all the rage in Australia with almost every large enterprise at varying stages of deploying private clouds and numerous service providers offering infrastructure as a service. Since efficient infrastructure is the life-blood of service providers, they have become one of our fastest growing customer segments. (http://www.nimblestorage.com/blog/technology/cloud-service-providers-opportunity-or-threat/)
Both of these attributes bode well for Nimble.
Exhausting and Yet, Exhilarating!
I love traveling and making calls with our field teams. When I travel, I typically have three broad goals. First and perhaps most important goal is for me to listen and learn, to correlate business results and metrics to a subjective understanding of what is taking place in the market place. Second, I travel to ensure that field teams have a connection to the rest of the company. Sales teams are isolated into small remote teams, particularly in smaller companies, and I leverage my visits to establish context for various activities and decisions that are being made in the company. Thirdly, I help the sales teams progress their campaigns with prospective customers and strengthen their relationships with channel partners and alliance partners. This trip could not have gone any better on all three counts.
I normally do not travel for more than a week at a time, as I really value my weekends with my family. Having said that, I could not be more thrilled about my experience over the last two weeks. We have assembled an incredibly talented team in a very short period of time – a team that is setting an intensely active pace of recruiting partners, generating interest within prospective customers, driving proof of concept engagements and converting prospects into customers.