Alliances are critically important in our business. For young companies, a strong relationship with one of the storied few that have become household names is a huge credibility boost. For customers, a big-name partnership is an assurance that your gear won’t be the weak link in a hyper-connected world.

In 2012, Nimble Storage entered into what would be a game-changing partnership with Cisco. At the time, Nimble was barely four years old and had only 250 customers. An initial public offering, another credibility marker, was more than a year away. Cisco, of course, had been a household name for more than a dozen years.

Almost two years ago, Nimble earned a certification for interoperability with Cisco Unified Computing System™ (UCS) becoming the first upstart storage vendor to complete what was – and is – a rigorous process. Why choose Nimble, then a relative unknown, to pilot its certification process? Cisco believed Nimble could help it sell UCS to an underserved market – the mid-sized companies largely ignored by traditional storage vendors.

Nimble was becoming popular with Cisco’s commercial customers for delivering performance and feature-rich storage at a price they could afford. And, Nimble had established a reputation for simplifying storage management and scalability, another key consideration for smaller IT organizations.

Cisco UCS, a platform that simplified data center operations and dramatically reduced total cost of ownership, was also a compelling solution for enterprise IT shops. Nimble and Cisco seemed like a perfect fit. The innovative joint solution that initially resonated with customers deploying server and desktop virtualization was quickly adopted by mainstream datacenters – including those running critical enterprise applications like Oracle databases.

Fast forward to today. “Converged infrastructures” – and now “hyper-converged infrastructures” – have become one of the industry’s hottest trends. In late 2012, Nimble introduced its first SmartStack™, a series of pre-validated reference architectures based on Cisco UCS, and best-of-breed solutions from industry leaders like Citrix, VMware and Oracle. In just two years, Cisco and Nimble have signed more than 400 joint customers, earning us a place in the Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure portfolio.

Many of our joint customers have signed onto one of Nimble’s six SmartStack solutions. Among them, are enterprise customers using SmartStack to rapidly deploy easy-to-manage converged infrastructure solutions with minimum risk.

With SmartStack, customers can reduce their datacenter footprint by as much as 75 percent compared to traditional solutions. This week, Cisco introduces UCS Mini, delivering its unified computing platform to customers with physical constraints. The small footprint is ideal for geographically dispersed and non-traditional datacenters. Stay tuned for new solutions from Nimble based on UCS Mini further extending the simplicity, ease of management, and seamless scaling SmartStack is known for.

UCS Mini offers IT performance and simplicity, two words that we, at Nimble, take very seriously. Great minds think alike – a shared vision is the foundation of the strongest partnerships.