Nimble Storage Targets Enterprise With Ability To 'Pin' Apps In All-Flash Storage

Hybrid flash storage array developer Nimble Storage has enhanced its solution with the ability to pin applications in the all-flash part of the arrays, while allowing other applications to take advantage of a combination of flash and spinning disk.

The move, unveiled late last month, makes it easier for Nimble Storage to move up-scale to the enterprise, said Radhika Krishnan, vice president of marketing, solutions and alliances at the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor.

"Nimble, from its early days, has been focused on the midmarket and commercial business," Krishnan told CRN. "But, over time, we've seen interest grow in the enterprise."

[Related: Hybrid Flash Arrays: 13 Vendors Pushing Capacity, Performance Boundaries]

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The company has made a couple of significant changes to its Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash architecture so that it's more applicable to enterprise storage customers, Krishnan said.

The first is the new all-flash service level that Krishnan said lets customers configure part of the solution to get the same service level an application would get if it were run on an all-flash array even though it is running on a hybrid storage solution.

"What's unique is our file system architecture, which can provide the same performance as an all-flash array," she said. "Usually, applications need upper and lower bands for performance. We provide the same upper band as an all-flash array by pinning the application in flash."

Krishnan said Nimble Storage solutions typically provide higher amounts of usable flash capacity per node than all-flash arrays. This is because RAID, snapshots and other storage functions are handled in the Nimble Storage arrays' spinning disk capacity, and not in flash. All-flash array vendors have to use part of their flash capacity for those functions, she said.

Also new from Nimble Storage is support for new software-based encryption for financial or government customers that require encryption of data, she said.

Nimble Storage also is now providing a new tool that gives complete visibility of storage on a per-virtual machine basis, as well as a REST API to allow other vendors to smoothly integrate with the company's solution, she said.

The new all-flash service-level agreement from Nimble Storage is key to approaching enterprise clients, said Scott Rippey, solutions architect for System Source, a Hunt Valley, Md.-based solution provider that counts Nimble Storage as its top storage partner.

There are two reasons for this, Rippey told CRN.

"The first is purely politics given all the hype around all-flash storage," he said. "Companies like Pure Storage and others come to customers with all-flash offerings, and Nimble Storage needs a response."

The second, Rippey said, has to do with the actual benefits of all-flash storage technology.

"Nimble's approach, and I agree with it, is that data centers don't need flash for every application," he said. "Nimble's ability to pin an application on flash is great because it still allows disk to be used for other applications."

Nimble has done a great job of expanding its offerings to reach deep into the enterprise, including the new ability to encrypt data at rest, Rippey said. "It meets the needs of our customers from small businesses to enterprise," he said.

Nimble Storage uses a 100 percent channel strategy, and currently has roughly 1,000 channel partners, the majority of whom are in the U.S., Krishnan said.