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Next steps with Nimble: Interview with Rachel Ler

Nimble Storage released their fiscal year this month and basing on their performance in Q4 the results have been satisfactory. According to the report, they’ve had an increase in revenue of 42% y/y, with acquisition of over 750 new customers in the Q4 and more than 2600 new customers in the 2016 fiscal year.

However, recent figures on the stock market is showing otherwise. Figures show that Nimble stocks have been devaluating. When comparing with the IDC report published last week, we see that the industry in general has been looking at some rather disappointing numbers. DSA editorial team was curious to know where Nimble is heading towards, and what new focus they are looking at.

DSA senior journalist Satoko Omata talked to Rachel Ler, ASEAN Regional Director at Nimble Storage. Looking at the numbers, we think that the industry standards were set too high. Rachel thought otherwise. “Market expectation will naturally be high, and that is anticipated. If you look at our FY and based on Q4 alone, we are definitely continuing to grow in the mid-sized enterprise market, and that is where our focus will continue to be.”

The recent rise in the hyperconverged technology sees companies shifting their focus away from the storage market. Despite that, Nimble is not in a hurry to change their focus. “Hyperconverged technology has a different target market from us. Hyperconvergence is like a black box and they only deal with a narrow segment of our workload. We don’t think they pose as a threat to the storage market at all.”

In fact, when we delved a bit deeper into looking at the changes in the storage market, Rachel tells us that their customer base is changing, and even though they are targeting service providers as well, the focus is still very much for on premise IT. “We have both customers for both on premise IT as well as service providers. Our strategy is still to target all the markets. We have about 600 service provider clients globally, however with about 84% of our customers being on premise, we still keep our focus on on premise IT, as it’s still a big chunk of our market.”

But Nimble is not one to keep things as they are. Rachel told us that they are working on different approaches for their clients. “What we are working on at the moment, is storage-on-demand – a subscription based storage system for customers based on the utility. This is for on premise customers, we offer tiered service level and ours deals are based on the customer’s usage.”

As we see the market change, so are the companies. Recently in the flash market we have begun to see a trend for expanding by acquisition, one of the latest being NetApp’s acquisition of SolidFire. Despite this, Rachel doesn’t see the company heading towards that direction. “Nimble has a strong desire to stay as an independent company. However, as we are a public company, there is no guarantee for this.”

Commenting on NetApp’s acquisition, she expressed that “We think that NetApp and SolidFire are in a very different market from us, and we don’t believe it will affect Nimble very much.”

“Right now we focus a lot on application integration, looking at what is required for customer’s applications.”

We have heard anecdotally that Nimble's approach with more focus at relative "entry" level is working well in South East Asia. No doubt the road ahead will be tough given the recent global storage market decline reported by IDC, but there will be winners. Whilst we can't be sure that Nimble will be a winner, it is clear that their approach is unique and they are positioned better than many others to see success.

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