Thursday, 16 July 2015 01:02

Nimble's Adaptive Flash gains all-flash workload option

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Nimble Storage has announced several enhancements to its Adaptive Flash hybrid storage platform, with the goal of achieving greater operational flexibility and reduced cost through increased consolidation.

The main change is the introduction of an 'all-flash' service level, allowing Adaptive Flash to better serve applications requiring maximum storage performance.

Nimble Storage APJ director of technology Mark Lazarus (pictured) told iTWire that until now, organisations might have purchased all-flash storage for analytics applications, for example, and then still require two more storage tiers progressively offering more capacity per dollar but with less performance.

Nimble's Adaptive Flash already has the ability to determine automatically and dynamically whether data should be stored in flash or on rotating disk, and volumes can be manually demoted to a 'disk only' service level.

The introduction of an all-flash service level means administrators can simply tick a box to indicate that a particular volume should be stored in flash for maximum performance.

This can be changed on the fly so that, for example, data relevant to end-of-month processing is already in flash before the job starts to run.

The process is simple enough to do whenever it is required, and does not involve moving data between arrays, Lazarus emphasised. But it does mean a single type of storage array can be applied to all workloads, regardless of their performance requirements.

A portion of the installed flash storage is reserved for general use, and Nimble's InfoSight cloud-based storage analytics can report on the effect of 'pinning' a volume in flash storage, and advise how much additional flash should be installed (if any) to achieve a particular level of cache hits.

Early adopters of the new capabilities report good results in development/test environments, Lazarus said. Less than 10% of workloads need to go in the all-flash service level, according to Nimble's estimates, as Adaptive Flash already provides good write performance.

The ability to non-disruptively move workloads between clustered Adaptive Flash arrays comes in handy with the new feature. If the decision is made to pin a particular volume, it can be readily moved to an array fitted with more flash storage.

The latest Adaptive Flash software has several other new features.

Software-based SmartSecure encryption can be applied at the volume or array level, benefiting service providers as well as organisations using Adaptive Flash as consolidated storage. Encrypted data can be replicated to another site if required.

"Today's heightened sensitivity around data security makes capabilities like encryption vital to our organisation and our clients," said technology and cloud provider Avanade's vice president and global infrastructure services chief architect Patrick Cimprich.

"And the way Nimble has implemented it was great: a simple software upgrade and no additional infrastructure to buy. It is a true testament to Nimble's architecture that we were able to add on a feature like SmartSecure encryption as easily as we did."

New REST APIs enable storage administrators to build customised reporting and workflows around storage, simplifying integration and enhancing IT productivity.

The Adaptive Flash platform is now scalable to more than 3.5PB of capacity and more than 160TB of flash per cluster.

InfoSight-VMVision extends InfoSight with agentless per-VM monitoring, enabling an end-to-end view of the environment and providing an opportunity to identify issues such as 'noisy neighbours' (VMs using more resources than expected and therefore impinging on others using the same hardware), bottlenecks (eg, insufficient memory), or host, network or storage latencies, Lazarus explained.

InfoSight-VMVision is "one of the most powerful extensions of InfoSight we've done," he said, adding that it complements the existing ability to make Adaptive Flash information available to the VMware console.

One unnamed enterprise customer recently decided that Nimble's Adaptive Flash platform is now sufficiently mature to allow the organisation to move away from its traditional storage vendors, Lazarus told iTWire.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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