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Nimble SAN all-flash line gains building block, CS Series gets refresh

Nimble Storage adds the AF1000 entry-level model to the Predictive Flash all-flash platform, coupled with a product refresh of its CS-Series Nimble SAN hybrid arrays.

Nimble Storage has added a low-priced building block to its AF-Series all-flash storage arrays, expanding the Predictive...

Flash Platform it launched in February.

The Predictive Flash AF1000 entry-level array that launched Wednesday can be clustered with AF3000, AF5000, AF7000 and AF9000 Nimble SAN all-flash and Adaptive Flash arrays. AF1000 scales from 6 TB to 46 TB of raw flash. Effective flash capacity scales from 20 TB to 165 TB, with two expansion shelves for 4 TB solid-state drives. List price is less than $40,000, and it includes three years of maintenance and support.

The vendor also refreshed the Nimble CS-Series Adaptive Flash hybrid arrays that mix spinning disk with flash media. The revamped CS Adaptive Flash product family now includes the entry-level CS1000/CS1000H, midrange CS3000, and high-performance CS5000 and CS7000 models.

Nimble: 'SAN customers want all-flash'

Nimble's all-flash AF-Series is based on Samsung 3D V-NAND 4 TB solid-state drives. Inline compression and data deduplication are included natively in the arrays. Predictive Flash arrays support Fibre Channel and iSCSI block storage.

Nimble's Unified Flash Fabric allows enterprises to manage Predictive Flash and Adaptive Flash hybrid arrays as a single four-node cluster. Both systems run Nimble OS, the flash-optimized Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout file system and cloud-based InfoSight predictive analytics.

We built in enough horsepower to sustain all the data features and services, even when under load.
Gavin Cohenhead of product marketing, Nimble Storage

With rated throughput of 35,000 IOPS, the AF1000 offers lower performance than other AF-Series arrays. Predictive Flash arrays share the same underlying architecture, so customers could start with a single AF1000 and add larger AF-Series controllers without disrupting the Nimble SAN. Nimble's proprietary data compression and deduplication presumes 5:1 data reduction to boost effective capacity to 2 PB per 12U configuration and up to 8.2 PB per four-node AF9000 cluster.

Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., said Nimble's slant with AF1000 differs from how storage vendors customarily try to market affordable all-flash.

"Product and engineering teams tend to come up with a couple ways. One is to turn off a bunch of features in the box and sell it as a lower-priced version. The other approach is to OEM all-flash from another vendor, but that hinders scaling. Nimble didn't use either approach. Instead, they built an entry-level system that gives people flash functionality and immediately makes them part of the Nimble ecosystem [for ongoing support]," Sinclair said.

Gavin Cohen, head of product marketing at Nimble Storage, said AF1000 aims to satisfy enterprise customers who want to selectively use flash.

"It's targeted at the segment of the market that doesn't need hundreds of thousands of IOPS, but still wants the low latency of all-flash," he said. "You can buy an AF1000 and add shelves of SSDs to get up to 165 TB of storage. You also can scale it all the way through the AF-Series model family to cluster more than 8 PB of all-flash capacity."

During its first six weeks on the market, all-flash sales contributed 12% of the Nimble SAN array bookings and added 55 new customers. Cohen said the trend has been for customers to buy all-flash Predictive Flash for primary storage and Adaptive Flash for secondary storage archiving, backup and disaster recovery.

Most all-flash vendors traditionally design low-priced flash systems with limited data services to avoid a performance hit. Cohen said the company designed the Nimble SAN AF1000 controller to use CPU and memory more efficiently.

"We built in enough horsepower to sustain all the data features and services, even when under load," Cohen said.

Nimble upgrades AF hybrid storage capacity

The Nimble SAN CS-Series Adaptive Flash hybrid arrays have been redesigned for density and performance. Nimble claimed the new models reduce cost in terms of dollars per IOPS as much as 65% and reduce dollars per usable GB up to 43%. The arrays have a larger cache size than its predecessor.

The entry-level CS1000/1000H model scales from 11 TB to 882 TB of raw storage, and it is rated for 35,000 IOPS. The effective storage on CS1000 is up to 1.4 PB. CS3000, CS5000 and CS7000 arrays scale from 21 TB to 882 TB of raw capacity, and up to 1.4 PB of effective storage. The midrange CS3000 is rated for 50,000 IOPS, compared with 120,000 IOPS for the CS5000 and 230,000 IOPS for the high-end CS7000.

Nimble is ending availability of CS200, CS300, CS500 and CS700 Adaptive Flash systems and giving customers several upgrade paths, including the ability to cluster newer CS arrays with previous generations. Cohen said customers who purchased older CS-Series models within the past three months will be given the opportunity to upgrade at an "attractive" price.

Support for deduplication on the CS-Series arrays is on Nimble's roadmap as a complement to data compression.

Next Steps

Hybrids getting pushed aside in favor of all-flash arrays

Enterprise-grade AFAs need advanced data management

Know how to figure pricing per GB when choosing AFA or disk

Dig Deeper on All-flash arrays

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