Newcomer Nimble Storage Packs Primary, Backup into One Appliance

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-07-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Newcomer Nimble Storage marked an important day in its corporate life earlier this month when it announced two things: its own launch as a startup and the fact that it is shipping the industry's first completely converged primary iSCSI storage, backup and disaster appliance for midrange or larger enterprises.

Convergence continues to be a natural evolution in enterprise IT, whether it's about entire data center systems or single units within those systems.

Newcomer Nimble Storage marked an important day in its corporate life earlier this month (July 15) when it announced two things: its own launch as a startup and the fact that it is shipping the industry's first completely converged primary iSCSI storage, backup and disaster appliance for midrange or larger enterprises.

Many companies have separate systems for all those functions. In fact, a good number of them have separate suppliers for each function.

Nimble is a newbie in the storage world, but that newness is tempered by the longtime experience of its founders-former NetApp and Data Domain executives Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari, who designed the systems.

Nimble accomplished its in-the-box convergence by putting to work a new architecture called Cache-Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) that combines high-performance NAND flash and high-capacity, low-cost SATA disks.

The CASL architecture deduplicates and compresses data at the gateway, producing variable-sized data blocks that are reconstructed when the file is accessed. A number of companies provide deduplication at the gateway, but Nimble is the first to add compression.

The resulting data blocks are combined into larger data bundles and written to Tier 1 (flash memory) storage for access by high-performance applications, such as Oracle and SAP databases, SQL servers, and proprietary industry apps.

Dan Leary, vice president of marketing for Nimble Storage, told eWEEK that "by combining deduped and compressed data blocks into larger sequential sets, write performance to both flash memory and to SATA drives is increased tremendously."

All data is written first to the SATA drives. But the "intelligent" CASL scheme sets itself apart by being able to identify which files are accessed most frequently, then maintaining copies of those files in flash memory for faster access until they become not-so-in-demand, Leary said.

The SATA drives also can maintain up to 90 days of snapshots without the need for a separate disk-based backup device, Leary said.

Nimble Storage's CS220 appliance (750GB of NAND flash) can supply 9TB of deduped, compressed primary storage (SSD) capacity and a whopping 108TB of backup capacity on SATA drives. Nimble's CS240 appliance (1.5TB of flash) provides 18TB of Tier 1 storage and 216TB of backup.

Leary said Nimble will use best practices to configure the necessary block sizes and other policies during the initial setup. Users can make changes any time they want, he added.

"Nimble Storage's approach of utilizing flash and SATA in a way that combines primary storage and snapshot-based backup in a single solution dramatically lowers equipment costs, reduces backup and restore times from hours to seconds, and streamlines processes," said Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst with analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group.

eWEEK featured Nimble Storage July 14 in a slideshow on storage companies running "under the radar."



 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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