Startup SimpliVity Hires Two Ex-Cisco Sales Vets, Gears Up For Future Hyper-Convergence Battles

Hyper-convergence startup SimpliVity is facing increased competition with Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise moving into its turf, but it's still managing to attract experienced sales talent.

SimpliVity recently hired two former longtime Cisco sales executives to fill key posts at the Westborough, Mass.-based startup, which is widely seen as the No. 2 player in the market after Nutanix.

Gary DePreta, director of Cisco's national security agencies business and a 10-year company veteran, has joined SimpliVity as head of U.S. federal sales, a source told CRN.

Geoff Fancher, a 17-year Cisco veteran who's been leading the U.S. business at Comstor, the Cisco distribution business of Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Westcon-Comstor, for the past three-plus years, is joining SimpliVity on March 21, according to the source, who didn't want to be named.

Fancher will be vice president of Americas channel sales, reporting to George Hope, vice president of global channels at SimpliVity, said the source.

A SimpliVity spokeswoman confirmed both hires to CRN on Monday but declined comment. A Cisco spokesman declined comment, and Westcon-Comstor wasn’t immediately available for comment.

SimpliVity's new hires come amid a flurry of activity in the market for hyper-converged infrastructure, which typically refers to the combination of compute and storage running virtually on x86 server hardware.

Cisco called HyperFlex Systems, which combines its Unified Computing System (UCS) servers with software-defined storage from startup Springpath.

HPE is also getting into the game that's based on its ProLiant servers, CEO Meg Whitman said on the vendor's earnings call last week.

SimpliVity partners told CRN they're not concerned about the impact of Cisco's and HPE's arrival to the hyper-convergence market.

"SimpliVity's technology will continue to shine," said Stephen Oles, managing partner and director of technology sales at Cordicate, a Philadelphia-based SimpliVity partner. "What they're doing is so disruptive and it has large manufacturers paying attention.’

"We love SimpliVity -- it’s a great solution, capable with many of our server partners and has a 100 percent channel [sales] program. Seriously, what’s not to like?" said Dan Serpico, CEO of FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based SimpliVity partner.

SimpliVity sells its OmniStack hyper-convergence software on UCS servers under a partnership with Cisco that began in 2014. Last week, the startup said it has sold more than 1,000 of these systems so far.

While Cisco has said HyperFlex is aimed more at Nutanix than SimpliVity, the networking giant is also making the case that existing hyper-convergence offerings fall short in terms of performance and networking, and that HyperFlex is designed to "fix" these issues.

But SimpliVity's Hope said in a blog post last week that Cisco HyperFlex lacks certain features that customers may find important.

"The HyperFlex solution does not offer comprehensive built-in data protection, and its data efficiency capabilities are extremely limited," Hope said in the blog post. "And in the spirit of coopetition, we anticipate competing and winning against HyperFlex as we do today against other second-generation solutions."

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