Nimble Storage Launches Converged Storage And Backup

Nimble Storage Launches Converged Storage And Backup

Nimble Storage, which has developed "converged storage and backup solutions," is releasing the Nimble CS-series, designed to be a converged disaster recovery backup storage solution. Nimble caught our attention because their founders are from NetApp and Data Domain. So what makes Nimble's first and new offering unique? Here are some early details...

Former NetApp and Data Domain executives Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari (respectively) founded Nimble Storage, and I had the chance to speak to Varun Mehta and Dan Leary, VP of marketing. They described their strategy as such:

Traditional backup and recovery can potentially take a very long time because of slow disks, un-optimized storage and fragmented data clusters. Nimble storage comes in and creates a layered approach to storage using flash memory, along with SATA drives formatted with a propriety disk structure. Basically, data gets pushed and compressed into flash storage first. Then, it gets logged away into the SATA drives in blocks at a time, with more active data being localized on the disks for quick use. Nimble calls this fancy approach to data backup "CASL" (pronounced 'castle') short for Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout. In the image, you can see how it works. Blocks of data are in order of most frequently used to not used at all with the progression being red, orange, gray and blue.

Mehta explained...

"We take instantaneous capacity-optimized snapshots. [There's] no more resource intensive backup process [and to save costs, we use flash and SATA technology [and] combine [their technologies] for best of both worlds."
Plus, flash and SATA data is never written randomly, always 'sequentially', and both Leary and Mehta attested this is one of the key reasons their backup is faster than other backup solutions. Nimble is designed to work with Microsoft Exchange, SQL server, VMware and Microsoft HyperV environments, and works over WAN, too. Because of this unique approach, Nimble alleges that they can make instant dedupped backups, along with cloned VM images dubbed  "zero-copy", since only the non-shared blocks of the VM are copied. In other words: data that would be the same between the two VMs is not re-copied, but borrowed again, and data that is different would be created.

Right now, the CS-Series comes in two flavors:
  • CS220 (9TB primary and 108TB for 60-90 days of integrated backup) Just under $50K
  • CS240 (18TB primary and 216TB backup). Just under $100K
Both run a proprietary version of Linux from Nimble, and the the unique Nimble File System for sequential writing. You can get your hands on one in August 2010 through Nimble Storage partners.

And the Channel? Leary detailed their involvement...
"We [work] through partners but our sales teams will be working hand in hand with channel partner team. [In effect] we're partners together, but we won't be taking any deal direct. We're committed to the channel getting the business. [We have a] registration program [for] protected [deals] and margins optimized for channel partners [who will be working with us] early on."
Nimble's executive team certainly has storage experience. But the backup and restore market is incredibly competitive. We wonder if Nimble Storage will stand out from the crowd.

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