A Peek Beneath the Covers of the New Nexsan: Interview with Nexsan’s CEO Robert Fernander, Part 1

What is old is new again and perhaps nowhere does that adage hold more true than with Nexsan. Having once been a standalone company before being acquired by Imation a few years ago, Nexsan is now back as a storage company with Imation operating in the background as a holding company.
To provide some insight into how this will work, I recently spoke with Robert (Bob) Fernander who currently functions as the CEO for both Imation and Nexsan. In this first installment in my interview series with him, he provides some details on the “new” Nexsan as well as provides an overview as to what products new and old that organizations can now expect to find as part of its product portfolio.
Jerome: Bob, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to join me today. For the benefit of DCIG’s readers, could you provide a little background on yourself and Nexsan?
Bob: Thanks, Jerome, and it is my pleasure to join you. Imation is Nexsan’s parent corporation with Imation now a holding company with no operating component to it. It is simply a financial organization, an HR organization, legal, administrative, public accounting and reporting entity. The intent for the parent company is to acquire, fix and then divest other companies where it believes it can lend value. That’s the long term goal of the parent company.
We also have a number of activities that are outside of the Nexsan world that are related to that, one of which you might publicly see where we just bought a bunch of shares in a mortgage REIT. We are in the process of talking to their management about how they might improve their operations, and/or help them to fix it up.
For Nexsan, we have separated it from Imation and put it back, in a sense, to the way it was before Imation purchased it by making it a standalone business entity with no real requirements for support coming out of the parent.
We have done a good job of that over the last six months. However, the great news is that the parent does invest in Nexsan and we have got plenty of cash in the parent to support Nexsan’s requirements and growth going forward.  We have made and continue to make a significant investment in the development of Nexsan’s UNITY next gen unified storage solution, and some next generation E-Series products as well.
My role, at least for now, is to wear two hats, I am the CEO of the parent corporation, I am also the CEO of Nexsan. I physically work out of the Nexsan offices in Campbell, California, which is our current Nexsan headquarters.
Jerome: Do you see your role changing?
Bob: That is to be determined. I was first a board member at Imation before I came inside. I am an interim executive with a contract that runs out sometime in mid-October 2016. It is my intent to be here as long as I am useful. However it is my expectation that as things evolve, I will probably stay with Nexsan, and they will bring in someone that is more of a financial person and less of a technology person for the parent company.
Jerome: Thanks for that background.  Can you now also provide me with an overview of Nexsan’s current product line and where that stands.?
Bob: One of our primary partners in selling the E-Series product is with CommVault, where we are the backend storage underneath the CommVault head. The E-Series and the Beast, which we just recently brought back as a brand, make up a little more than half of our sales and are critical to our success – consequently, we are continuing to innovate there.
NST is our unified storage product. This is a hybrid product that supports both SAN and NAS. It also offers DRAM caching, flash tiering, and spinning disk, all configurable in the platform so that we can balance cost and IOPS for midrange users and midrange use cases.
This is not an all flash, performance is everything appliance. This is a workhorse for the midmarket. The NST is for environments that may support virtual machines on one side of the house but may also push files out through the NAS head. It’s the midrange, consolidated approach to solving the problem.  It has been and continues to be very well received and is widely deployed.
Then we have Assureon, which is our secure archive product. It’s an object store. This product was purpose built to be an object store for immutability and competes with Centera. That product has been phenomenally successful for us and right now represents about 25 percent of our sales.
Transporter is software that we obtained as part of our Connected Data acquisition back in October of 2015. We had a vision that primary storage users over time will have a ubiquitous requirement for mobile accessed information. We believed in the vision that Connected Data had of providing for that through a private cloud mechanism. We did not believe that going to the public cloud solved the problem because it was fraught with security and availability problems, as well as expense-related issues.
We liked Connected Data’s approach. We acquired Connected Data, brought it in house, and have now integrated the Transporter software into the NST platform. That is what we recently announced to the general public: the integration of that software with our NST line of product to create a new storage solution called UNITY.
In part 2 of this interview series, Bob shares some more details about the new Nexsan Unity product line and how its feature set differentiates itself from other products on the market.
In Part 3 of this interview series, Bob talks about how the UNITY platform helps to address the world of shadow IT.

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