skoWrapping up a year of unprecedented growth, more than 200 Nimble Storage sales people gathered in San Jose last week for our annual sales kickoff meeting. There were lots of great messages about the year that went by and exciting plans for the year to come, but by far the single best session of the event was when three customers presented their perspectives on how and why they chose us.

Different Customers, But Facing Some Common Challenges

Each of the three customers was different but had some common characteristics in terms of challenges that they faced.

  1. The application hosting services arm of a large technology consulting organization that delivers hosted Microsoft applications to end customers leveraging their expertise, ability to deliver high availability and manage deployments at scale. For example, they host over a million customer mailboxes as a managed service.
  2. A regional bank with over a hundred branches in the mid-west, deploying Microsoft SQL databases, Exchange, Citrix and Citrix XenApp servers on virtualized infrastructure using VMware  with vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM).
  3. A leading provider of hybrid cloud services that offers public and private cloud service to mid-market customers using a VMware-based platform and leveraging their own unified management portal as a differentiator.

All three customers evaluated us as a result of some key challenges that they faced with their incumbent solutions. The table below is an extract of some of the problems as presented by the customers:

Challenges Application Hosting Co. Regional Bank Cloud Service Provider
Inadequate Performance “Met IOPS as long as we chose the right controller initially” “Incumbent vendor’s performance constraints resulted in poor user experience”“We were out of IO resources and had to do something” “We were in the process of bringing on a new Enterprise customer with huge performance needs”
Cost “Very large footprint resulting in expensive rack charges” “Considered … time-consuming and big dollars!” “Consolidating multiple data centers”
Data Management “Backups with no de-dupe or compression and no easy way to replicate to alternate site” “Wanted to modernize with snapshots, replication and SRM”
Complexity / Time “Deployment and configuration issues resulted in poor support and have caused delays in customer projects” “Could not meet growth plans, client on-boarding was slow”

They Put Us Through an Extensive Testing Process

All three customers evaluated us thoroughly before making the switch.

  • The application hosting company evaluated over 6 different storage platforms – three very large storage vendors, two start-ups offering flash-only arrays, and one other hybrid storage start-up. They went through an extensive 10,000 mailbox Exchange test conducted over several weeks.
  • The regional bank tested us for their database environment and then migrated all of their Citrix XenApp Servers on to the Nimble Storage arrays during the proof-of-concept process given the performance headroom on the array.
  • The cloud service provider tested us for a large telecom client hosting large databases with heavy input/output (IO) loads.

Compelling Benefits

Thank you to each of the three customers for choosing us: (i) The Application hosting company has deployed 7 Nimble arrays for a total capacity of ~280TB across two locations; (ii) The regional bank has deployed ~70TB across a production and disaster recovery (DR) site; and (iii) The cloud service provider has deployed over 300TB across 9 Nimble arrays.

The best part of the presentation at kickoff was to hear each of the customers present some very compelling evidence of the benefits that they saw from deploying Nimble Storage.

1. Significant capital cost and operating cost reductions. All three customers commented on the dramatically fewer resources needed with Nimble compared to all of the alternatives.

  • In their initial deployment, the application hosting company replaced the incumbent vendor’s storage system made up of 300 drives with two of our arrays comprising 8 SSDs (solid state drives) and 24 high-density HDDs (hard disk drives). They saved $10,500 a month just on data center and rack space charges. The capital cost reductions were even more significant. The accompanying picture is the slide that the customer presented showing two racks of competitors’ products being replaced by 6U of Nimble storage
  • The regional bank save significantly on rack density and capital costs. Compression alone was able to reduce the data footprint of their databases by a factor of 3.
  • The capital cost of the combined Cisco + VMware + Nimble solution was 50% lower than the alternative, while providing additional savings through compression and lower monthly rental charges.

2. Performance. As an example, the regional bank saw much improved ESX boot times, and was able to host not just the databases that saw poor performance but was also able to migrate Citrix XenApp servers given the high performance. The cloud service provider was able to eliminate all of the extensive tuning that they had to do in the past to achieve the performance needed for their clients.
3. Data Protection. The regional banking customer and the Application hosting company have both implemented a data protection scheme that leverages local snapshots and remote replication coupled with VMware SRM. The Application hosting company is now in the process of integrating Nimble snapshots into CommVault’s backup application. Every one of their customers is now able to create almost instantaneous backups and is able to recover rapidly in the event of a problem.
4. Simplicity of Management. In every instance, our customers commented on how much simpler it was to manage a Nimble environment – both in terms of initial deployment as well as on a day-to-day basis.
5. Dramatically Better Support Experience. One attribute of Nimble that every customer commented on very positively was his experience of dealing with our support organization. The attributes that stood out about our support were as follows:

  • Through our remote support automation, we have the information we need to solve all the problems fast
  • We care deeply enough to solve issues, even when they are outside our domain
  • We do not let issues fester and we marshal the internal resources needed to address a problem quickly.

One of the main goals of any sales kick-off is to motivate the sales organization and arm the sales teams with confidence in the strength of our solutions. Nothing could have accomplished this goal as well as the customer presentations did, when they articulated their challenges, their decision process and why they chose Nimble Storage.