Nimble Storage Brings New Cisco UCS Mini To Converged Infrastructure

Hybrid disk and flash storage array developer Nimble Storage has expanded its converged infrastructure solutions portfolio with a new version featuring the new Cisco UCS Mini servers.

Nimble's new SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization combines the company's CS300 midrange array, its SmartStack management software, VMware Horizon 6 virtual desktop software and the entry-level Cisco UCS Mini server into a pre-tested, pre-validated solution for remote and branch offices, said Sheldon D'Paiva, senior solutions marketing manager at the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor.

The new SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization extends virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, to the edge of the corporate network, D'Paiva told CRN.

[Related: The Power Of One: New Converged Infrastructure Solutions]

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"We're taking it to remote and branch offices," he said. "We've introduced a new solution to let companies deploy VDI in remote and branch offices. A lot of locations don't have the experience on-site, but they still need VDI."

The SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization is right-sized for remote and branch office environments, D'Paiva said.

"It provides a simple, economical and compact way to deploy VDI," he said.

The solution includes the Cisco UCS Mini servers. The servers, introduced last month, features Cisco's existing B-Series blade chasses and blades, but adds the Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, a small device that plugs into the back of the chassis. Cisco UCS 6324 provides network connectivity for up to eight Cisco UCS blade servers and seven direct-connect rack servers, giving it a total domain of up to 15 Cisco servers.

The result is a significantly lower-cost solution for smaller companies than Cisco's primary UCS platform which can be deployed with up to 160 servers per UCS domain.

The SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization looks to be a good way to bring VDI to remote and branch offices while simplifying the deployment and reducing the physical footprint of the deployment compared to previous Nimble or competitive solutions, said Chris Snyders, consultant at Burwood Group, a Chicago-based solution provider and channel partner to both Nimble Storage and Cisco.

"Customers often don't have IT staff in remote offices, or [have] staffs that are not heavily trained," Snyders told CRN. "With centralized management of Nimble Storage and Cisco hardware, it becomes easier to deploy outside the corporate data center."

NEXT: Channel Side Of The SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization

Snyders said Burwood Group has been working with Nimble for about a year and is in the process of deploying its third Nimble Storage SmartStack converged infrastructure solution based on the more expandable Cisco UCS server. The company also deploys FlexPod solutions based on Cisco and NetApp technology and VSPEX solutions based on Cisco and EMC technology.

The Nimble Storage SmartStack solutions are easy to deploy and support.

"With other converged infrastructure solutions, customers find it hard to take care of it after it is deployed," he said. "We want customers to be more self-sufficient."

Burwood Group has also found the SmartStack converged infrastructure solutions to have great performance in a small footprint compared to the competition.

"The larger the footprint, the higher the co-location and power costs," he said.

D'Paiva said the SmartStack for ROBO Desktop Virtualization solution compares favorably on a cost-per-desktop basis, although he was unable to offer actual pricing.

The solution is available now. Nimble Storage has adopted a channel-first policy for sales and deployment, although D'Paiva said, as with many vendors, the company does have a few direct accounts.