This is the first installment of a series by Systems Team Lead Matt Peabody to begin to answer a question he hears all the time: “Why vendor X?”
I’m kicking off this series with a vendor we have been supporting since they had relatively low name recognition, Nimble Storage. Nimble Storage is a hybrid SAN vendor that combines spinning disk for write capacity and flash for read acceleration.
Nimble Storage was brought to us by one of their sales engineers that had worked with us in the past. He described their product as the next big thing in storage. After discussing the architecture, feature set, roadmap, and history of Nimble Storage with that sales engineer, we were sold.
There were a few things that stood out for us and continue to be items that distance Nimble Storage from other vendors:
- CASL (Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout)
Nimble Storage’s CASL architecture was built from the ground up to take advantage of the shift in CPU architectures to multiple cores and not rely on disk spindles for speed. This is the first architecture we had seen where the array was not spindle-bound, but CPU bound. This allows Nimble Storage to use slower spinning disks for writes and use all of the flash in their array for read performance. The file system design also helps them to take extremely thin, non-impacting snapshots, migrate hot data to flash in real time, and use commodity hardware, all without sacrificing performance. These all combine to make a very affordable and reliable array with extremely fast response times.
Infosight is a Big Data cloud that collects real time information and coalesces it into easy-to-read and understandable reports about the health of all the arrays that Nimble Storage has ever sold. When customers ask how well the arrays actually perform, we can show people real-world performance statistics on existing installs and get them in touch with existing Nimble Storage customers. We as partners rely on this data as much as our customers to recommend upgrades and ensure the health of our installs.
A recent customer had an issue with a failover during a new install. Where other vendors may have quit citing an issue with the Fiber Channel infrastructure, Nimble had us pull logs and send that data to them. After reading through the logs, they found the switches did not support the proper revision in Fiber Channel specification. This was added to Nimble Storage’s code and will be addressed in the next firmware release. Nimble Storage also aggregates the analytics from their entire install base into InfoSight to give customers proactive warnings if they will run into a known issue, and then recommends a fix for them. Nimble Storage support continues to impress both our engineers and our customers.
Nimble Storage keeps things simple. Their pricing is array(s) + maintenance. Maintenance is a simple percentage of the array and gets customers support, new firmware, hardware replacement, and any new features that come out in newer code versions. Their arrays come in small configuration bundles that are easy to understand. Nimble Storage’s GUI and command line management is intuitive and easy to use. When we show most customers the GUI, they reply with “That’s it?” and that’s a question we like to hear.
Nimble Storage continues to be a strong partner for us at High Point Networks. Now that I’ve answered “Why Nimble?” we’ll continue next time with “Why Veeam?”