Riverbed CEO Kennelly Joins Board of Startup Nimble Storage

Published on April 16, 2013
by Arik Hesseldahl

jerry_kennelly2-featureNimble Storage, the fast-moving startup that offers its customers a way to reduce the amount of storage hardware they buy, will announce today that Jerry Kennelly, the CEO of Riverbed Technology, is joining its board of directors.

Kennelly is the latest executive from a publicly traded company to join the board of Nimble. In July, Frank Calderoni, CFO at networking giant Cisco Systems, joined Nimble’s board, as well. Also on its board are Kirk Bowman, a former executive at Dell unit EqualLogic and also of VMware, Ping Li of Accel and Jim Goetz of Sequoia.

Nimble last fall closed a $40.7 million mezzanine round of venture capital funding led by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, and has raised a combined $98 million. Other investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Artis Capital Management and GGV Capital. The implied valuation is said by people familiar with the matter to be between $650 million and $700 million. I doubt it will be long before people start whispering about IPO plans, if they aren’t already.

The company said in February that it had reached a $100 million run rate in bookings for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31.

Nimble is seen right now as one of the important up-and-coming storage companies to watch among the people I talk to who follow these things. I talked last week with CEO Suresh Vasudevan, who told me that Nimble asks a pretty fundamental question about enterprise storage: Why keep backup storage separated from other storage? Every time you move your data to another storage medium, there’s an extra step, one that Vasudevan argues isn’t necessary.

The company builds storage arrays that use a unique architecture called CASL, or Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout. I won’t go into the technical weeds, but the basic idea is that the arrays use integrated flash memory not as a separate tier to speed things up, but as part of the basic design. It’s essentially a hybrid that brings together flash and spinning hard disks, and takes advantage of the unique properties of both. The end result is that many customers are able to reduce the amount they invest in storage hardware. It has so far shipped 2,000 systems, and has more than 1,100 customers.

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