Cisco, Nimble Storage extend partnership with new SmartStack offerings

Two of the three new reference architectures are Cisco Validated Design-backed, a first for the SmartStack solutions, which Nimble expects will help partners in several ways.


A Nimble SmartStack solution

Cisco and flash-optimized hybrid storage maker Nimble Storage have announced an expansion of their alliance with three new reference architectures, including two that become the first such offerings in this relationship to be Cisco Validated Designs (CVD)-backed.

The Cisco Nimble partnership was launched in 2012, and produced the only flash-based integrated infrastructure offering with Cisco UCS and a third party authorized by Cisco, a move which helped the startup Nimble enormously in its quests for brand recognition and market expansion.

“We launched SmartStack in 2012, a converged infrastructure solution which combined Cisco UCS and networking with Nimble’s Storage, and we have released a number of different architecture solutions since then, including several server virtualization infrastructure solutions aimed at specific vendors like Oracle,” said Matt Miller, Solutions Marketing Manager at Nimble. “Where this new announcement goes further is that while we have had reference architectures up to now, we are now releasing new infrastructures based on Cisco Validated Designs. The difference between the other reference architectures and CVD is that up to now, Nimble has done most of the testing and validation work, supported by Cisco. As CVD is a Cisco program, Cisco does all the testing in-house. This provides another level of peace of mind for the customer.”

The two new CVDs are also reference architectures, not turnkey solutions that come preassembled.

“It’s like the NetApp FlexPod in being a reference architecture rather than a single SKU,” Miller said. “It’s very much a ‘meet in the channel’ solution, although there will be ‘rack and stack’ solutions available through our distributor partners.”

Both of the CVD-backed solutions are infrastructure for virtualized environments. One is based on the UCS Mini architecture that came out last year, and includes Nimble’s CS 300 mid-range array and VMware’s vSphere 6.0. The other is geared to the data centre and includes the Nimble CS700 high-end array as well as vSphere.

“These two solutions give partners the ability to sell into a wider range of environments, from ROBO and mid-sized enterprises spanning to the higher end with the CS700,” Miller said. “The market addressed is broader than before, as we have not had a general virtual infrastructure solution before now. They have been more targeted at specific workloads.”

The third new offering, which is not CVD-backed, is a more specific reference architecture application around SQL Server 2014.

“SQL 2005 is coming up to end of service early next year and those customers will have to move to the newer version, so this helps with the migration opportunity for partners to talk about platform refresh with customers,” Miller said.

Nimble is also using the new announcements to herald the success of their Cisco partnership.

“We have had a very rapid customer ramp since we released the first SmartStack offering three years ago, and now have over 750 customers,” Miller stated. “The pace continues to accelerate as we move forward. Now partners will be able to move the partnership to the next level with these new CVD-backed solutions.”

Miller said the working relationship with Cisco has also become more efficient.

“Even a year or two years ago, we brought more deals to Cisco,” he said. “Now we are getting more cases where Cisco is bringing us in in order to compete, and much more engagement at the field level as well.”

For solution providers selling Nimble, that means more opportunities, which Miller said is extending to Cisco partners who previously had not sold Nimble.

“This is expanding our go-to-market by increasing our channel base,” he said. “It is not just about helping our existing partners. Now that we have a much higher profile, we are attracting new partners who have been selling UCS but not Nimble.”

Miller noted that SmartStack inherently is beneficial to a partner selling UCS.

“In pairing Nimble’s storage with the Cisco UCS, it adds a much more efficient storage footprint, allowing the customer to save on rackspace and cooling,” he said. “This efficiency of the Nimble platform allows the partner to refocus some of the project budget in the deal to value-added services. We have seen from our partner base where they have been able to redirect spend to higher-value items.”