Nimble Storage looks to new predictive analytics for enterprise push

Flash-focused Nimble Storage has announced its new Nimble AF-Series of All Flash arrays, a family of four models which adds predictive analytics. Nimble thinks it will position them better in the enterprise market.

Gavin Cohen

Gavin Cohen, Nimble’s Senior Director of Strategy and Market Development

San Jose-based flash vendor Nimble Storage has announced a new series of Predictive All Flash Arrays, the Nimble AF Series. The InfoSight analytics – which Nimble calls the best in the business and which are all about making the storage more efficient – significantly increases flash performance. It also gives Nimble, which has been concentrated mainly in the mid-market to date, a stronger offering for the enterprise space, combining fast flash performance with InfoSight Predictive Analytics to deliver data velocity.

“This new predictive array helps us in a whole lot of ways – performance, scalability, and low TCO,” said Gavin Cohen, Nimble’s Senior Director of Strategy and Market Development.

Cohen said that while storage gets the blame for performance issues from what he called the ‘app-data gap,’ non-storage things like configuration issues, host-side issues, and VM issues together cause more than 50 cent of problems impacting storage arrays.

“Flash provides fast performance, but because these non-storage issues are 54 per cent of the total problems, without the predictive analytics, it’s not possible to close the rest of these gaps,” he said. “So we are pairing our product portfolio with predictive analytics to close that gap in our Timeless Storage business model.”

Cohen said that the analytics data comes from sensors, spanning into host and virtual machines, which had always been part of the product.

“It has evolved dramatically and we are improving it constantly,” he said. “Still, as much as we have had it, I doubt the market is aware of the full power of what we are doing, and the magnitude of what InfoSight is doing. We have amassed what is likely to be biggest repository of storage-related information ever assembled.”

The InfoSight sensors, which can detect rapid root cause analysis, can collect tens of millions of data points per array per day.

“The data isn’t for just rudimentary things like future capacity needs,” Cohen said. “It provides detailed analysis where we can see outlier issues and predict things like a VMware bug that only appears in a certain set of circumstances to cause problems – even though this isn’t actually in the storage, but is outside it.”

Cohen said that while some other vendors claim similar functionality, he believes the Nimble capabilities here are unique.

“We are worlds apart,” he said. “To do this retroactively, you would have to embed the sensors n every piece of the code as well as the surrounding infrastructure. It’s not something that’s easily retrofitted.”

The InfoSight analytics are only one part of the new AF Series.

Nimble-Storage-AFA-angled-dark“The performance takes scalability to another level, and does it at a fundamentally lower TCO,” Cohen said. In scale-out four-node cluster configurations, the AF9000 can non-disruptively and independently scale performance up to 1.2M IOPS and effective capacity to over 8PBs.

“The TCO comes because we require 10-30 times less memory,” he stated. “It was built five to six years later than other systems and has more cost optimized forms of 3D-NAND. It was designed to be highly memory efficient. That’s why we can attach so much more capacity to our systems, which drives down costs.” The result is both high performance and high capacity.

The enterprise use case is also strengthened by improved backup capacity coming from the ability to replicate from all flash to adaptive flash in about a third of the cost.

“We have unified all flash and hybrid into a single architecture for all flash and adaptive flash,” Cohen said. “This means that we can take a production all flash array and replicate it for backup at about a third of the cost. This is a really significant thing for big customers building out farms, to protect in a more effective way.”

This all leads Nimble to think that the AF Series will be more attractive in the enterprise.

Leonard Iventosch Headshot 300

Leonard Iventosch, Nimble’s VP Worldwide Channels

“From a channel perspective, this allows us to be attractive to many midmarket VARs, but also to the enterprise VARs we are starting to work with,” said Leonard Iventosch, Nimble’s VP Worldwide Channels. “It remains to be seen how much all flash we sell versus hybrid, but having the all flash gets us in the conversation with enterprises whereas until now we had to walk away. I think it really is a game changer.”

Iventosch indicated as well that Nimble will be taking steps to make themselves more attractive to service provider partners. They earlier introduced Capex Storage on Demand, which is attractive to this market, in 2014.

“We will be adding a new program this year where we treat our top service providers as our partners as well as customers,” he said.

Cohen also pointed out some announcements they are making on the marketing side.

“We are announcing for first time our Net Promoter score, which is 85 – very high in storage and IT in general,” he said. He also noted that in Nimble’s stated guarantee, while some things are not new, two things are. They now guarantee a seven year life for SSDs. They also now provide an option to get a new controller after three years, which will be a faster generation product from the original. This is purchased as an option through their support offering.

The Nimble AF-Series All Flash arrays are offered in four models: AF3000, AF5000, AF7000 and AF9000. They are available to order now.