Nimble announces scale-to-fit on the fly storage expansion

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Fast-growing mid-market storage provider Nimble Storage has today announced a clustered scale-out capability which it describes as “scale-to-fit”.

Scale-out storage tends to be expensive if it avoids performance degradation (for instance, extra storage controllers may need to be added), but every organisation’s mix is different. So Nimble is now offering flexibility through offering system clustering complementing simple disk capacity or performance increases. Data can now be mapped (striped) across multiple arrays. Automatic load balancing is applied as an upgrade is made on the fly without stopping live operation.

Nimble designed its storage solution from scratch to achieve cost-effective storage capacity and performance (not “either/or” as is usually to be expected), together with ease of use. Its design deploys flash at the front end to process the data very fast as well as compress it on the fly to reduce capacity needs. Then, typically, lower cost but higher capacity disks (SAS or SATA) are used for bulk storage – although flash may replace some of these if desired.

By varying these parameters, an individual user can choose the type of upgrade which he thinks will best suit his company; this may involve an in-house upgrade or a new unit from the factory. This also accommodates more VDI deployments and, for instance, those organisations which use a mix of MS Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint or Oracle – where capacity or performance may be more critical. However, it may be he is not too sure of the effect of such a change before he tries it. So, software to predict his need is also being developed – promised in around two months – and, in the meantime, assistance will be offered by reference to other real-life deployments as a guide.

The degree of scalability, currently to less than 170TBs, means that Nimble will for now remain firmly in the mid-market (i.e. even if it adds more bells and whistles to its offering). Its CS range of models individually offer 8-36TB (x up to four shelves) raw capacity and 160GB-2.4TB of flash. (It is surely little more than a marketing decision to hold capacity at these levels, so this could very easily change if demanded by users.)

The company is less than two years old but already boasts around 600 users and over 1000 installations. (Last year I described Nimble’s system architecture and, about six months ago, reported on its very rapid growth path, which shows no sign of slowing.)

Nimble’s head of solutions and alliances, Radhika Krishnan, told me that some of the company’s main competitors were EMC, (Dell) Equallogic and NetApp – but that Nimble was winning a majority of these bids. She said that concerns over the maturity, availability and support of its products were answered by the positive experiences of existing users.

In this regard, she said nearly all users were remotely connected to Nimble for support and that Nimble did a “heartbeat” check every five minutes as well as analysing comprehensive statistics daily. “This means that 70% of support cases are opened by Nimble” said Krishnan, who added that overall statistics were showing five 9s (99.999%) availability was being achieved among its users.

Watch for more partner agreement announcements in the next few weeks and months. Nimble sells entirely through the channel.