Startup Nimble Storage Puts Primary, Backup Storage In One Appliance

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Storage startup Nimble Storage this month unveiled its first product, a storage array combining high-performance Flash memory and low-cost SATA technologies to handle primary, backup, and disaster recovery tasks with a single device.

Nimble's CS-series of storage appliances is based on the San Jose, Calif.-based company's Cache-Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) architecture, which compresses data as it is inputted using variable-sized data blocks.

Those variable-sized data blocks can then be combined into larger data sets and written to Flash memory for high-performance access. By combining data into large sequential data blocks, the performance when writing to Flash memory and then to SATA drives is increased, said Dan Leary, vice president of marketing for Nimble Storage.

All data is written to the SATA drives, Leary said. CASL also tracks which storage is "hottest," or accessed most frequently, and keeps a copy in Flash memory for quick access, he said.

The SATA drives also keep up to 90 days of data snapshots for recovering data which has been changed without the need for a separate disk-based backup device, he said.

Also included is the ability to replicate storage to another Nimble appliance in an offsite data center over a WAN, Leary said.

"Today, replication has to be to another Nimble box," he said. "In the future, we will work with cloud storage providers to provide storage clouds for customers who don't want to manage a second Nimble box."

The Nimble Storage appliances come in two versions. The CS220 includes 9 TBs of primary storage capacity and 108 TBs of backup capacity, while the CS240 provides double the amount of both primary and backup capacity. The CS220 also includes about 750 GBs of Flash memory compared to 1.5 TBs for the CS240.

The CS-Series appliances are easy to set up and use, with basic installations requiring only three steps, Leary said.

"We customize the block size and caching policy behind the scenes," he said. "Customers don't need to tell us the details. They just tell us the types of applications they are running, and we provide the best practice. If the customers are happy with our configuration, they can just click 'OK,' or they can do their own configuration."


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