Interesting bit of storage industry investment news on July 14, Bastille Day. Not that there's any connection with the French holiday, but year-old Nimble Storage revealed that it has won a $25 million Series D venture capital boost from Artis Capital Management.
Normally, this wouldn't be page one news in most publications. But it is noteworthy here because Artis Capital Management had been the largest shareholder of Data Domain for a few years. And, as most of us remember, Data Domain was purchased by EMC in 2009 for $2.1 billion following a bidding war with NetApp. So Artis Capital made out pretty well.
Does this mean that EMC or some other Tier 1 data center systems company is going to buy Nimble someday for billions of bucks? Of course it doesn't, but it can pay handsomely once in a while to connect the dots of history and wonder what else might be coming.
Does this mean that Artis Capital knows a good storage company when it sees one? Quite possibly. Worth it to look at how Nimble does it? Definitely.
"We recognize that storage is strategic for businesses; Nimble Storage's technology is highly differentiated, and we believe the company will disrupt the market," said Stuart Peterson of Artis Capital Management. "Investments like Nimble Storage don't come along often, and we wanted to get in early. We believe Nimble Storage will be the next 'big thing' in storage."
Nimble Storage, founded by former Data Domain (there's a dot to connect) and NetApp (and another) executives Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari, positions itself as the industry's first "converged iSCSI storage, backup and disaster-recovery solution" for enterprises.
The claim about being first may or may not be true, but the fact is that Nimble does indeed cram a lot of functionality into a relatively small space.
Nimble accomplished its in-the-box convergence by putting to work a new architecture called CASL (Cache-Accelerated Sequential Layout) that combines high-performance NAND flash and high-capacity, low-cost Serial ATA disks.
The CASL architecture deduplicates and compresses data at the gateway, producing variable-sized data blocks that are reconstructed when the file is accessed. A number of companies provide deduplication at the gateway, but Nimble was the first to add compression.
The resulting data blocks are combined into larger data bundles and written to Tier 1 (flash memory) storage for access by high-performance applications, such as Oracle and SAP databases, SQL servers and proprietary industry applications.
This enables fast in-line data compression, intelligent data optimization using flash memory and high-capacity disk, instant optimized backups and WAN-efficient replication in a single device. This approach lowers equipment costs, reduces backup and restore time from hours to seconds and streamlines storage management. A bit costlier off the top, but eventual returns on investment are attractive.
In summary, all good for Nimble and good for Artis Capital. We'll keep an eye on what else develops.