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Nimble start-up’s aggressive market play

Silicon Valley start-up Nimble Storage is hitting the New Zealand market. Heather Wright talks to the company’s Asia Pacific executives about their plans.

Data storage company Nimble Storage is bypassing distributors
in its initial assault on the New Zealand market as the company aims to quickly gain mindshare here by pumping all margins into the reseller network instead.

The Silicon Valley company, which claims to be the fastest growing data storage company
in history, launched its assault on the New Zealand and Australian market last month, with the opening of its Asia Pacific headquarters in Australia.

The local launch came days after the company, whose Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout architecture combines flash with high capacity drives, secured a further US$40.7 million in venture capital funding.

Peter O’Connor, Nimble’s Asia Pacific vice president and former NetApp ANZ and South Pacific
 vice president, is adament Nimble doesn’t view New Zealand as simply an add-on to the Australian market.

“New Zealand is very, very important for us. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t be going to New Zealand before Singapore, which we will look at next year.

“New Zealand may only be 18% of the size of Australia, but even more so than Australia,
 New Zealand has an appetite for embracing new and innovative technology.

"You’re right at the pointy end of accepting technology and it’s very important for us to get early market share and get New Zealand on board.”

‘Smart and innovative’ New Zealand installations are expected to ‘provide a lesson’ for customers in Australia and follow on to the United States and the rest of the world, O’Connor says.

First win

The company’s faith in New Zealand was repayed when it signed it’s first ANZ customer – a New Zealand business – just after the official launch. A New Zealand reseller was also signed on the back of the sale.

O’Connor is one of two senior staff lured from competitor NetApp to head up Nimble’s operations
in this region, with Gavin Cohen, previously NetApp APAC director of technology and strategy, onboard as Asia Pacific director of marketing.

Also leading the charge is former EMCer, Rob Barton, who takes on the role of director of sales for ANZ. O’Connor says Nimble is looking for four to five resellers, working in the mid-market, initially.

“We may look to add a distributor in 12-18 months, though if things go nuts, which they may do, it may be earlier.

"But our offering is easy to configure, with lead times of two to three days from the US, so there’s no need for a distributor from the start.

"We would rather put the margins the distributor would take into the resellers to gain mindshare.”

Cohen says Nimble’s sweet
spot is the mid-range, though its products are also suited to higher end operations.

“And that’s almost New Zealand to a T. It’s a part of the market that has always been tough for the major vendors.”

Services opportunity

He says Nimble’s model encourages resellers to take on professional services on the back of Nimble sales.

“Our product is trivial to install and bring up, but there is significant opportunity around services such as building out the VMware environment, moving Sharepoint or Oracle databases and so on,” Cohen says.

The company runs a analytics data warehouse in California which receives data from customer installations every five minutes detailing the status of the system and highlighting any potential problems, opening support calls and shipping spare parts, without human intervention in more than 70% of instances.

However, Cohen says particularly in the early days, some Kiwi partners may also hold spares kits.

Meanwhile O’Connor says of Nimble’s move into the New Zealand market:

“We’re going to be going at it pretty hard and pretty quickly and believe there will be great outcomes for partners as well as for customers.”