We’re reporting from Cisco Live, the networking giant’s annual gathering of its customers and partners. Despite a somewhat gloomy keynote from Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers, who predicted a “brutal, brutal consolidation of the IT industry,” the mood on the floor was nothing but upbeat.

Nimble Storage at Cisco Live 2014

Thousands of IT pros have visited the Nimble Storage booth, which sits at the center of the action on the busy exhibition floor at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. We’ve treated them to live product demos (streamed from the technology lab at Nimble Storage’s San Jose headquarters), and technology deep dives from the presentation theater in our booth.

From the depth of the conversations we’re had and are having, it’s clear that IT managers want to do more than kick tires. They need solutions to pressing problems – and they need them now. Two IT managers we spoke to, each an unhappy customer of a legacy storage vendor, spent more than a half-hour venting their frustrations.

Regarding his storage vendor’s dedupe feature (only one way his storage system is failing him), one of the managers colorfully said, “That **** doesn’t work. Let me tell you how ****** up it is. When it’s running, the VMs can’t connect or accept a single http request.” After seeing a demo and asking detailed questions, both asked for price quotes – on the spot.

“Simplification” is the word we’ve heard most often in booth conversations, and while traveling the showroom floor. Stressed by the need to do more with less – in IT parlance, get “more value for less spend” ­– tech managers are looking for ways to automate the most rote ­and time-consuming parts of their jobs. That’s drawn them to UCS (Unified Computing System) Director, Cisco’s management system for converged infrastructure.

UCS Director binds applications, compute, network, storage, and security functions, regardless of vendor. As a long-time Cisco partner, we endorse UCS Director as an invaluable way to deliver simplicity and performance to our joint customers.

SmartStack™, Nimble Storage’s pre-validated reference architecture designed to simplify and speed the deployment of particular workloads including VDI, server virtualization, and Cisco’s UCS, attracted a lot of interest. It’s the time and cost savings that come with simplicity that’s grabbing their attention.

We’ve loved meeting customers who’ve sought us out after referrals from IT colleagues. We expect more than a few will become satisfied Nimble Storage customers, and our most effective ambassadors.