Nimble Offers Scale-to-Fit Storage Solutions

The small vendor is offering enterprises a way to incrementally scale their storage capacity and performance capabilities based on their businesses demands.

Nimble Storage officials are offering hybrid scale-out storage solutions that are flexible and affordable, necessary requirements for enterprises that are adopting virtualization in the data center and trying to get their arms around big data.

Other storage vendors are offering their own scale-to-fit solutions, but officials with Nimble said their strategy lets businesses more finely scale up their storage infrastructures as their needs dictate, whether those demands are around capacity, performance or both, and at low incremental costs. Nimble is doing this through new scale-out storage arrays, new storage expansion shelves and an upgraded operating system that were unveiled Aug. 6.

The result is a scale-out storage environment where enterprises can use multiple approaches to scale single storage clusters to hundreds of terabytes and hundreds of thousands of input/output operations per second (IOPS), according to Nimble executives.

"Traditional scale-up systems and more modern scale-out systems are rooted in an era when storage capacity and storage performance were tethered together," Nimble CEO Suresh Vasudevan said in a statement. "Our scale-to-fit architecture delivers an unparalleled ability to independently scale the controller performance, cache capacity or storage capacity of any node while also allowing multiple nodes to become part of a cluster.€

Businesses can start with a small footprint and grow as their storage needs demand, in incremental steps, across a range of workloads, and using a combination of high-performance hard-disk drives and flash solid-state drives (SSDs), Vasudevan said.

This is a change from current scale-up architectures, which he said are inflexible and require IT administrators to estimate their storage needs three to five years out. Given the rapidly evolving environment, fueled by virtualization and convergence in the data center and the ramp of the big data trend, estimating needs over such a long term is increasingly difficult, forcing businesses to have to overprovision their storage capabilities. In addition, tying performance and capacity together make adding a new storage node an expensive proposition, according to Nimble officials.

The company is offering businesses three different paths for scaling their storage infrastructures, according to officials. For those IT administrators who are looking to only increase their capacity, Nimble is offering a new line of ES-Series storage expansion shelves. The new offerings let businesses grow capacity without impacting performance, keeping the costs down and not requiring any downtime, according to the company.

For businesses looking to scale only performance, new CS400 series arrays let customers running performance-intensive applications like online transaction processing (OLTP) and virtualized desktop infrastructures (VDI) do so without downtime. Each CS400 array can support hundreds of virtual machines or thousands of VDI users. In addition, customers with existing CS200 series array controllers can upgrade to CS400 arrays with no disruption in performance. At the same time, businesses can upgrade from disks to SSDs without downtime.

Enterprises also can scale capacity and performance via the new Nimble OS 2.0, which enables businesses to array clusters together. Through the clustering capabilities, businesses can grow or shrink their storage environment as business demands, and migrate or upgrade data, without any downtime.

Nimble uses its Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout architecture (CASL) as the foundation for the scale-to-fit solutions, leveraging high-capacity disk and SSD technologies to boost performance and capacity.

Through the cluster capabilities, Nimble enables businesses to scale performance and capacity linearly, create storage pools in a single cluster, add or remove arrays in a cluster and migrate data across pools of storage resources within a cluster, all without disrupting the environment, officials said.

€œWhat we are bringing to market today is the ability to scale any dimension, and only that dimension at the lowest possible cost, without ever disrupting applications,€ Vasudevan said in an Aug. 5 post on the company blog.

Businesses also can mix and match existing and new Nimble storage arrays within a single cluster.

The CS400 Series arrays, ES-Series expansion shelves and SSD expansion options will be available in the third quarter, according to company officials. The upgraded operating system, Nimble OS 2.0, will be available in the fourth quarter.