Feeds

Nimble not struck by Lightning: We're fine as we are, thanks

Built-in lightning conductor

Security for virtualized datacentres

Tiered networked storage array startup Nimble Storage won't be struck by the coming EMC Lightning server flash product because its customers don't need it.

The Nimble array uses multiple tiers of storage, including NVRAM, flash and disk, to provide large capacity and avoid disk latency when responding to data IO requests, as well as having the essential feature of sharing storage resources between servers. Is its architecture threatened by flash in servers, PCIe-connected flash storage?

Talking about this question, Nimble's CEO, Suresh Vasudevan, said there were three questions to keep in mind:

  • Is the flash a cache or a storage tier?
  • If it is a cache does it do read caching?
  • If it is a cache does it do write caching?

In his view, treating the server's PCIe flash as a storage tier – the Fusion-io approach – means that it stores an application's entire working set in the server and takes the primary data storage role away from the storage array: "It's only relevant for data not going to the back-end array." You get a very fast response to IO requests but the cost per GB is high and the flash and its data contents is not sharable between servers.

Vasudevan says: "The number of applications where latency in microseconds matter is very small. We are not going after such applications. We focus on mainstream applications where cost/performance and cost/capacity are more important."

If the flash is a server's cache and does read caching then that is great for many applications but not so good for applications that need fast write IOs as well as read IOs. The cache does write caching that solves a write latency problem but adds complexity and may affect virtualised app mobility as vMotion of the app could be prevented or hindered by the cached writes.

His company's array provides write caching through its serialised layout and use of solid state storage and this is faster than a disk drive array, more cost-effective than all-flash arrays and server flash tiers, and also server flash caches. Mainstream applications need to execute faster by freeing themselves from disk drive array hobbles but not at the expense of or with the limitations of server flash tiering or caching. In logistics terms customers in NImble's market need a FedEx truck, not a customised Ferrari.

What's VMware going to do?

Vasudevan thinks it interesting that VMware is not involved in managing server flash memory and asks whether it's likely that in two or three years it will take on that task, much as it has been taking on more of the job of managing access to networked storage. He asks rhetorically why wouldn't it do that; "VMware must see the logic of a cache managed by the hypervisor. VMware understands the block layout involved better than anyone else." ESXi could treat the cache as a tier or a cache. Ditto Microsoft and Windows 8/Hyper-V.

How is Nimble doing? "At our stage of growth every quarter had to be a record quarter. … We now have 22 sales territories … and around 150 people; it was 38 in December 2010." Customer adoption momentum is still growing and it should soon reach the 300 customer point: "a benchmark this quarter hopefully [and] a very big deal for us."

Nimble is sticking to its knitting and continuing to grow fast. It is knocking at an open door as the cost and complexity and slowness of disk drive arrays is being questioned more and more, it says. Customers need a simpler, cleaner shared storage architecture, one unencumbered by by legacy storage designs – and Nimble Storage is hoping to fill that gap. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.