Nimble Storage today launched a new set of features and a cloud-like pricing model designed to help IT organizations take an application-centric approach to storage provisioning and management.
The Nimble storage pricing list will now include an on-demand option that lets customers pay only for the on-premises storage they use, just as they would with a public cloud service. Pricing starts at 6.8 cents per GB per month for all-flash storage, according to Nimble.
Newly added quality-of-service (QoS) capabilities in Nimble's all-flash and hybrid storage arrays aim to enable customers to meet service-level agreements and curb the problem of "noisy neighbors." Secure multi-tenancy provides granular capabilities to allocate, manage, move and delete storage, encrypt data, and provide self-service automation via REST APIs.
Nimble also extended the VMVision capabilities of its InfoSight Predictive Analytics to provide customers visibility from virtual machines (VMs) to storage so they can pinpoint specific applications that might be draining resources from other workloads.
Another new addition is support for Docker containers through a plug-in that triggers access to extensive storage functionality. The Nimble plug-in can enable users to provision storage based on policies, spin up clones and snapshots and do application-level encryption and replication without having to leave the Docker environment, according to Gavin Cohen, head of product and solutions marketing at Nimble.
"Many storage vendors have Docker plug-ins, and that's not unique. What we've done is a comprehensive Docker plug-in ... [through an] end-to-end implementation," Cohen said.
New Nimble storage pricing option
The new on-demand Nimble storage pricing option will enable customers to pay only for what each application uses. No long-term contracts are required. Pricing is based on pre-set, application-specific service-level agreements (SLAs).
"Every gigabyte they're using is charged at a fixed rate based on whatever applications they're using. So there's a rate for [virtual desktop infrastructure] VDI, a rate for database -- whatever it is," Cohen said. "We monitor all that remotely [using InfoSight]. Their invoice reflects their exact usage. If they go up, they pay more. If they come down, they pay less."
Nimble would ship or remove gear based on the customer's anticipated needs and rate of storage growth. The normal SLA is shipments within seven days, and Nimble commits to having a minimum of 10% extra storage on site, according to Cohen.
"What we're trying to do is almost simulate it being as flexible as [if it were] completely out there in the public cloud. But it's using on-prem equipment that's arranged by Nimble," Cohen said.
Sakthi Chandra, senior director of product marketing at Nimble, said the new pricing model is not solely capacity-based. Customers indicate the applications for which they need storage. Nimble helps them choose the right SLA, with the necessary IOPS and bandwidth to meet their needs, Chandra said.
"From an enterprise standpoint, it's removing all the unknowns. It's removing the data reduction map that they have to do behind the scenes and making it really simple and aligning the storage closer to the app," Chandra said. "Once they have the hardware gear up and running, there is no upfront CapEx. It is a completely OpEx model."
Eric Burgener, a research director for the storage practice at IDC, said via an email that the new pricing option would allow Nimble to pursue new customer types. He said other "storage on demand" pricing models exist but none that support application-based pricing.
Mark Peters, a practice director and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, predicted that the new Nimble storage pricing option would generate not only user interest but also imitation. He said via email that other vendors in the hybrid and all-flash array space currently compete on the ease of operational deployments, where the user pays a bit more on maintenance but gets a new controller/flash every so often and perhaps a guarantee on the overall performance level.
Peters said Nimble's new QoS and multi-tenancy features fall in line with the company's focus on "apps rather than ops." He said Nimble is "neither first nor last" with those enhancements. "What still enables it to keep ahead of the pack in a key area is its InfoSight data/app collection and analytics," he wrote.
Customers get all software features with Nimble All Flash Arrays and hybrid Adaptive Flash Arrays at no charge. There is no additional charge for Nimble's new software capabilities.
Cohen said the Nimble All Flash Array collected nearly 200 customers since the product became generally available in March. He said the total includes more than 100 new customers and complements the more than 8,100 total customers of Nimble's hybrid and all-flash arrays. Nimble claims to have more than 500 cloud service providers in its customer base.
Nimble also introduced a new Cloud Service Provider Partner Program, which includes a two-tier program certification, free training, a dedicated partner manager and guaranteed discount savings. In other recent news, Nimble finalized support for VMware Virtual Volumes (VVols) and became certified to work with Mirantis' OpenStack distribution.
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