SimpliVity Seeks More Vendor Partners, Eyes 2016 For Server Expansion

SimpliVity CEO Doron Kempel is eager to offer the company's software on servers from an expanded roster of vendors and says that business will make up about half of the company's sales in the coming year.

SimpliVity's hyper-converged infrastructure is now offered in three ways: in its OmniCube appliance, which runs on Dell server technology; and in its OmniStack system, which is SimpliVity software on servers either from its main vendor partner Cisco Systems, or from Lenovo, which teamed up with SimpliVity earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview with CRN editors at the company's Westborough, Mass., headquarters, Kempel said the OmniStack solution has been gaining traction unexpectedly fast.

[Related: CEO Doron Kempel On Why Simplivity Trumps Amazon, The Cisco Partnership And The Battle With Nutanix]

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"Surprisingly, it's been moving much faster than we thought," Kempel said. "We went into 2015, I projected a single-digit number to account for our OmniStack sales -- OmniStack is our software on servers. We ended the year approximately 5X. So we have sold 5X what we anticipated. For example, our business with Cisco has increased 3X Q2 over Q1, then 3X Q3 over Q2 and then about 2X Q4 over Q3, which was already a big number for us." SimpliVity's 2015-16 fiscal year ends Jan. 31.

"I would say in our fiscal 2017, which is coming up now, our expectation is that approximately half of our business is going to be our software on servers that are chosen by the end users or the VARs," Kempel said. "We've invested very heavily in qualifying our software on those servers, and if customers want to consume the product in that way, we're ready to do that. We have a network of distributors who can basically deliver in that particular manner. It all depends on the demand of the end users and the VARs."

Kempel said the expanded server strategy requires SimpliVity to be diplomatic with server vendors but added the payoff will be a wide reach in a rapidly growing market.

"Every time you introduce another server vendor, your other server vendors are less happy, so you just have to be clever in that regard," Kempel said. "Eventually, [it can be] any server, anywhere, running our software. If you're a large enough customer today and you come to us and say, 'I want to run Quanta [systems],' we'll qualify Quanta."

The expanded server strategy comes as SimpliVity formally launched a Technology Alliance Program aimed at expanding its roster of ecosystem partners.

Eric Platz, senior director of Morrisville, North Carolina-based Lenovo's Enterprise Business Group, said solution providers and customers are embracing hyper-converged solutions.

"As the market starts to expand and grow and mature, we're seeing traction," Platz said. "Partners and customers are seeking information [from us]; they want to understand how we position ourselves with SimpliVity, and partnering with SimpliVity is giving us a great opportunity to enhance our portfolio."

Frank Strobel, senior strategic business development manager ar F5 Networks, Seattle, said the application delivery specialist became a SimpliVity Technology Alliance Program partner in response to partner demand. "What is interesting is the number of channel partners that approached us to work with SimpliVity," he said. "It is a growing business and a great opportunity for us to go after with them."

Strobel said SimpliVity's focus on existing management offerings like VMware vCenter has been a big advantage.

"There is no learning curve when it comes to management and orchestration," he said. "It is a great technology alignment with zero learning curve for the customer."

Jeff Kennedy, business value marketing manager for Eaton, said the Eaton-SimpliVity VMware vCenter integration brings big benefits to both customers and partners. "They are a tab on vCenter right alongside us," he said. "It's great that you can get all your SimpliVity stats alongside all your Eaton power management stats with interoperability around disaster avoidance and business continuity."