Nimbus Data is for real

by Robin Harris on Friday, 30 November, 2012

StorageMojo has said little about Nimbus Data, despite several briefings by CEO Thomas Isakovich over the years, due to skepticism about the company. Would you trust a company that lists one person as the management team?

But Nimbus has persevered despite StorageMojo’s inattention.

Company
Mr. Isakovich has been a fixture in the storage arena since he started TrueSAN in late 90s. Nimbus has been in business since 2006, and Tom says the company is profitable. It better be, because it has no VC funding per se, listing 3 individual investors on the management page.

One is Ed Zschau, founder of Systems Industries, a successful storage company back in the 80s that focussed on add-on storage for minicomputers. Another is Dick Watts, who led ConvergeNet to an acquisition by Dell.

Customers
Tom recently said that the company is up to 50 employees. They’ve recently installed multiple 100TB systems – which may not sound like much, but this is flash at ≈$10/GB – and they list 200 customers on their web site.

Ebay has deployed a half petabyte of Nimbus Data. At another company they beat out a NetApp filer that not only had a flash cache, but also had SSDs instead of disk drives.

Product
Nimbus started out with disk-based arrays, but has moved to all-flash media, including building their own SSDs for greater density, lower cost and higher performance. Their HALO OS supports iSCSI, SMB, NFS, Fibre Channel and Infiniband and offers replication, de-dup, encryption and snapshots.

Their newest product, Gemini promises 10 year endurance writing 1PB a week.

The StorageMojo take
While still mystified by a 1-man management “team” – who does the engineering and sales? – StorageMojo concludes that Tom has built a real company based on successful products and several unique decisions:

  • No VC funding – which Violin Memory has also avoided – is today a more common option since startup costs are so much lower than a decade ago. The big advantage is that you avoid the overhead of dealing with VC investors and having to deal with their business needs.
  • Building their own SSDs and array packaging. That flies in the face of the “volume begets lower costs” mantra of Intel and Pure Storage, but it looks like Nimbus has made it work for them.
  • No debt. No VC money and no debt = exceptional bootstrap startup. I don’t know what they’re doing for working capital – vendor financing? – but it seems to be working.

Nimbus Data: check ‘em out.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Anyone using their products care to comment on your experience?

Regrettably, Nimbus Data has never paid me for any work, but they are a sponsor of Tech Field Days that brings me and other blogger/analysts on junkets to (usually) Silicon Valley.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul LeMahieu November 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

You mention that Violin Memory has avoided VC funding. Violin has taken in a tremendous amount of traditional VC money. Per their website, it’s $186M to date: http://www.violin-memory.com/company/investors/

Robin Harris November 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Granted, smoke and mirrors are the default in IT. But Nimbus has been in business for 6 years, has major repeat customers like Ebay (unless it’s a lie) and a couple of respectable investors. Until I see evidence to the contrary, I have to grant Nimbus the recognition I’ve withheld for years.

Nimbus users, what say you?

Scott Kline November 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Public Reference Customers
eBay: http://tinyurl.com/cdv8vge
US Dept of Defense: http://tinyurl.com/d9ck9jb
Allant Group: http://tinyurl.com/6nrkrad
Loxogon: http://tinyurl.com/dx3fbg3

Awards
Flash Memory Summit Best of Show 2012: http://tinyurl.com/bpjq83y
Market Leader in Unified Flash: http://tinyurl.com/cufjjzc
Storage Magazine Product of the Year: http://tinyurl.com/czsp46w

3rd-Party Testing:
Demartek: http://tinyurl.com/cbgcrzt

Thank you Robin for the recognition and support!

Just Wondering November 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

“Tom Isakovich is 23 and the CEO of TrueSAN Networks Inc., having dropped out of Stanford University to build the company he created in his dorm room… ”

So after the S&M TrueSAN went out of business, he went BACK to Stanford? Price check please!

Tom Burniece December 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Nice article, Robin. Nimbus is absolutely for real. Tom Isakovich has done a great job leading a non-VC funded company that is not only winning in the marketplace but profitable and has state-of-the -art products. I have known him since 2000, when he was CEO at TrueSan, and have known Ed Zschau a lot longer than that. They have been a great entrepreneurial team and are proving that you don’t have to raise VC money to succeed in storage.

Tom

Robin Harris December 3, 2012 at 6:42 am

Condemnation by competitors is proportional to the threat. People don’t waste their breath on weak competition, because customers figure out who has the goods quickly enough.

Andrew Yashchuk December 3, 2012 at 10:28 am

OK. For all of you who can only resort to personal attacks on Tom to divert attention from a real product that scares the living light out of you:

Once you stick your head out of the sand, you are invited to visit Loxogon to see Nimbus in action. These mirrors are very shiny and the smoke is very thick! I’m sure you will be disappointed greatly.

After you have visited us and have seen these “smoke and mirrors” then please proceed with constructive criticism if you have any.

Until then, you are trolls and shills. Go away! Go find a value adding/creating job for our society instead of being paid for disinformation.

George Crump December 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Robin,

Nice write up. We have been covering Nimbus for years. Team Tom has done an excellent job and I can verify your findings on their customers. Please see the below for a four part series on Nimbus and its capabilities.

http://www.storage-switzerland.com/Articles/Entries/2011/2/15_Intelligent_Flash_Storage_Demands_an_Innovative_File_System_and_Native_Data_Services.html

Proof is in the Pudding December 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

There’s a lot of Slideware and Marketing with Nimbus Data. The real question is does it work? Ask for a demo, not just of the UI, but of the features:
* Cluster Failover
* Snapshots
* Replication
* Dedupe
* Encryption
* Benchmark Speeds

How about some videos of these on YouTube?

Black Eye December 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

Robin – your comment is why you don’t see competitors bashing them in public. They don’t take them seriously. What I think everyone is worried about is that at some point the shell game will be up and they will go bust, and give a black eye to the whole industry. Even those customers who have a bad experience with Nimbus are going to be less likely to try other flash products in the future. It hurts everyone.

Jason January 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Let’s be fair and put constructive comments for end users to choose storage solutions wisely.
1. Is the storage product certified for server vendor’s interop matrix? For example, if you bought Cisco UCS, or VMware ESX, does Nimbus Data show up in the HCL?
2. If the vendor claims support for all storage protocols, especially for fibre channel/FCoE, ask them for a look at their test plan and test results. What FC switch, what HBA/microcode/firmware combination was tested? For those that have some experience in this space, you’d know that interop is the biggest effort in certifying an array for FC
3. How big is the vendor’s support team? Post-sales investment would tell you whether a company has potential to go big – it is that simple, do they take care of customers when there’s production outage? Ask to talk to a support VP/Director and get some stats on call volumes, average call resolution time (Don’t go by slides – ask to see the REAL data from their salesforce/CRM DB).
4. Better yet, ask to speak to another customer and tell the customer to give you a demo of the product.

Hope this helps – do your homework – not all storage vendors are created equal.

Jason January 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

here’s a timely article on Nimbus Data:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/22/nimbus_staff_leave/

Do you really want to buy product from a company that has close to ZERO post-sales support staff?

You all are crazy November 5, 2013 at 8:35 am

I might be a little late to the party here, but I currently work at Nimbus. I happen to be sitting in an office in Austin with about 30 Salespeople, Solutions Architects, Sales Managers, and a Sales Director. The Outside Sales Director is also located here.

I can amazingly see right through the “smoke and mirrors” you all like to refer to.

Nobody's Crazy December 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm

A simple scan of Linkedin shows there to be nowhere near 30 people in Austin TX!! What company of that size, headquartered in SF, would put 30 people in TX. I call SHENANIGANS!!! Sounds like what just played out in UK… keep your resume polished.

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