Skip to content

Nimble Storage introduce the All Flash Array

After what seemed like an eternity, today Nimble Storage announced the next stage of their storage evolution.

There were actually 3 major announcements made today:

  1. The All Flash Array – Super fast all flash arrays.
  2. Nimble OS 3 – The latest iteration of the Nimble OS with new features including deduplication.
  3. Timeless Storage – Free controller upgrades.

Today I will only focus on the All Flash Array.

Back in 2010, Nimble Storage disrupted the storage industry with the release of their hybrid CS Array by leveraging both SSDs and HDDs to provide high performance AND capacity at an affordable cost. What made it special however, was their innovative CASL filesystem that cleverly used CPUs to derive IOPS to get round the limitations of deriving IOPs from disks. CASL was always designed to ‘adapt’ and be able to take advantage of newer technologies quickly and easily, and now it has evolved to provide the latest All Flash based arrays.

It could be argued that Nimble don’t actually need an All Flash offering because their current CS700 hybrid array can deliver about 140,000 IOPs (or about 550,000 IOPs in a scale out group of 4, so already providing provide blistering performance from a hybrid array.

Nevertheless, there are still customers who run latency sensitive applications and require extreme levels of performance, even beyond what the CS700 provides, and having an All Flash offering will certainly help Nimble Storage in satisfying those requirements.

Four models have been announced:

  • AF3000 and AF5000 – Entry level All Flash array – providing the perfect blend of very high performance with cost.
  • AF7000 – Mid range offering very high performance.
  • AF9000 – High End offering extreme performance

Here are the main headlines:

  • The AF arrays are 4U arrays with 24 disk bays and will support up to 48 SSD drives in the unit.
  • The AF arrays will support additional disk shelves that can accommodate a further 48 SSD disks.
  • The SSD capacities will range from 240GB to 3.84TB.
  • The arrays will support iSCSI or FC connectivity.
  • The arrays can be grouped together using Scale-Out and can be grouped with existing CS arrays to provide the perfect blend of capacity and performance, and managed from a single interface.
  • The performance will range from 50k IOPs to 300k IOPs (70/30 read write ratio). 4 x AF9000 in a group can deliver a whopping 1.2million IOPs. The AF arrays uses the same version of CASL as the Hybrid arrays, thus all features are available including snapshots, compression, cloning, replication, etc.
  • The AF arrays will use revolutionary Triple+ parity protection that can accommodate at least 3 simultaneous disk failure without data loss.
  • 5x data or more data reduction using compression and deduplication, thus capable of providing up to 8PB+ of effective capacity.

nimble storage features table

Unified Flash Fabric.

If you look at our datacentres today, we hold a mixture of different types of data, databases, compressed images, files, documents, Operating systems, etc. Some of these, like databases or VDI, needs to live on high performance storage so deliver the low latencies the applications need, others like file stores or backups can reside on slower cheaper storage. In any case, a datacentre administrator typically has to consider two separate platforms to deliver these. If you use Pure Storage or ExtremIO to serve your most performance application, chances are you are going to need a capacity based array (like a VNX) for your other less performant requirements (because it is more cost effective than putting this data on the expensive AFA also).

With Nimble, use Scale-Out to group together an AF array and a CS Array (Unified Flash Fabric), and manage them as one through a single interface, but now the performance workloads reside on the AF and the other stuff on the CS. What’s more, these are interchangeable, so if workloads change or they are seasonal, the volumes can be migrated between devices no-disruptively, pretty handy for seasonal workloads or responding to demand from bursty applications.

Some might say that Nimble have been a little slow to the AFF game, with other vendors having a massive head start with their offerings. I suspect Nimble would argue that there is no time limit on perfection, taking the time to ensure it can integrate with the existing CS arrays, use the same CASL OS including all the features and capabilities and added to InfoSight to continue delivering world class analytics and support.

Congratulations on a magnificent addition to your product portfolio!

Blog written by

Amirul Islam, Technical Director

Start your journey today