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SimpliVity claims fivefold sales boost, hugs Cisco tightly

Underdog grows into possible buyout target

Sysadmin blog Things are looking up for hyperconverged vendor SimpliVity, which reported record growth in 2014 on the back of a number of strategic wins and a key partnership with Cisco.

Simplivity is claiming a nearly 500 per cent increase in sales compared to 2013 and has now passed 400 employees worldwide, all of which makes me wonder what the future has in store for them.

What the numbers in the press release translates to in real revenue is still a little up in the air. The company claims that "over the course of 2014, SimpliVity shipped 1,500 OmniCube and OmniStack licenses". Now this doesn't necessarily mean it shipped only 1,500 servers; there's no way you're going to support 400 employees on 1,500 upjumped commodity servers a year, no matter how many rounds of funding you've done.

"1,500 OmniCube and Omnistack licenses" can probably be translated as "1,500 deployments". How many of those are multiple deployments per customer – assuming that SimplIVity would even count multiple deployments per customer as multiple licensing events – is completely unknown. Still, if SimpliVity has – or better yet, has added to its existing stable of customers – between 1,000 and 1,500 satisfied customers, then it is doing quite well for a startup of its age that ships fairly expensive hyperconverged systems.

Expect more out of SimpliVity in 2015 as it ramps up its partner program, but perhaps the most important element will be its partnership with Cisco. El Reg is told that the partnership is doing fairly well for both companies, despite Cisco hedging its bets by partnering with SimpliVity's competitor, Maxta.

Indeed, it's fairly interesting to see that Cisco has allied itself with both Maxta and SimpliVity. In a lot of ways these two companies could be quite complimentary, even though they theoretically compete in some markets. Both are hyperconverged players focusing on data efficiency (deduplication and compression), but they differ greatly from there. Clearly there's something about data efficiency tech that grabs Cisco's eye.

Maxta's play is increasingly about being able to meet the needs of cloud providers big and small while SimpliVity's play is all about making it Lego-simple to build out worldwide deployments of SimpliVity clusters.

Youtube Video For the official SimpliVity sales pitch, see check out this video we shot at VMworld.

What Cisco chooses to do in this market is increasingly important. Cisco bought Invicta and thus has its own fibre channel arrays, something that has not made its previous hyperconvergd partners EMC and NetApp happy. VMware – a member of the EMC federation – is leading the software defined networking revolution, the end result of which will be a gutting of Cisco's networking revenues.

The politics have gotten even more complicated with VMware's vSAN emerging. Rumours that Cisco will halt new investment in VCE have been flying around for some time, and won't quit until that partnership inevitably collapses. Meanwhile, Cisco is broadening its partnerships with storage companies like Pure Storage.

Chris Mellor put it best when he very bluntly said that Cisco needs a Server SAN strategy. I'm not the first person to remark that SimpliVity would be a good fit for Cisco, nor will I be the last, but if SimpliVity keeps posting growth like they managed in 2014, they may start to get a little too rich for Cisco's tastes.

For now, however, both companies appear to be entirely committed to pushing forward SimpliVity UCS solutions. A great example is the webinar they are putting on today at 11am EST. These sorts of joint sales and marketing pushes are starting to show up everywhere, indicating more than just a token alliance: real money, manpower and effort from both companies is being sunk into this.

Despite protestations, it seems to me that the partnership between Cisco and SimpliVity is likely to be a proving out before acquisition. For many vendors, the fact that SimpliVity relies on a proprietary hardware card to do their data efficiency tech would be a deal breaker, but Cisco has never shied away from proprietary hardware, nor have their customers.

SimpliVity's CEO Doron Kempel seems ready to answer why we should care about them, and has repeatedly hinted said that he wants to take the company all the way to IPO if he can, though we all know how hollow those claims become when enough zeros are thrown about in negotiations.

So what is the future for SimpliVity? A quick dash to an IPO? Or a snack for Cisco? Thoughts in the comments, as always. ®

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