Nimble's CS260 SAN Appliances Are Optimized for Virtualization, Data Backup

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-01-17 Print this article Print

REVIEW: Nimble Storage is combining Tier 1 and Tier 2 enterprise storage capabilities into its new CS260 SAN, which combines performance, value and scalability into an easy-to-manage network appliance.

The founders of Nimble Storage chose the company's name to reflect their commitment to create flexible but scalable enterprise-class storage products. The company's latest effort, the CS260 storage area network (SAN) appliance, builds on that tradition. A 3U (5.25-inch) SAN, the CS260 offers up to 48TB of converged storage and data backup.

The CS260 is the latest in the series of Nimble Storage's product family, which includes the CS220, CS220G, CS240 and the CS240G. The primary differences between these appliances are raw storage capacity and connectivity speed. The CS220 offers as much as 12TB of raw storage capacity, while the CS240 offers 24TB of capacity. When Nimble adds a "G" to the model number, it changes the number of port count from six Gigabit Ethernet ports to a pair of 10GbE ports and a pair of 1GbE ports.

The CS260 comes in two configurations: CS260 and CS260G. The CS260 offers six, 1GbE network connections per controller. The CS260G offers two 10GbE and two 1GbE network connections per controller. Each configuration provides effective capacity of 48TB.

Each configuration offers high-availability and continuous data access through redundant, hot-swappable controllers, power supplies, fans and drives, as well as comprehensive resiliency capabilities.

However, it is what the units share in common that sets Nimble Storage's products apart from the competition. That commonality can be summed by two advanced technologies: the Nimble Protection Manager and CASL (Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout).

It is these two technologies that transform what would be a typical iSCSI SAN product into something that is much more than the sum of its parts.

In other words, CASL supercharges performance, while The Nimble Protection Manager creates a secure, protected storage paradigm that offers both Tier 1 and Tier 2 storage in a single appliance that incorporates integrated backup, snapshot capabilities and offsite replication. The CS260 incorporates 2.4TB of flash memory to power the CASL architecture, which helps the unit to deliver high performance.

I was able to put a few of Nimble Storage's CS appliances through some hands-on testing and was impressed by the results. My test environment consisted of several CS devices, along with the associated connectivity hardware and several enterprise-level servers. A multitude of operating systems (virtual and physical derivatives) were running in the testing environment on enterprise level server hardware. Connectivity provided included both 10GbE and 1GbE.

First and foremost, I was impressed with the quality of the physical appliances, which are based upon industry-standard hardware from a major server hardware vendor (the components for my test were built by Supermicro). The rack-mountable enclosures were made of quality components, featuring a relatively thick case that resists flexing and a tool-less design using heavy-duty latches and bays.

The units also incorporated fail-over capabilities, such as redundant power supplies, multiple cooling fans and hot swap drive bays. In other words, these units are built to last, and if they were to fail, repair should be quick and easy.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel