Nimbus Unveils iSCSI SAN/NAS With SSD

Claims consolidated storage virtualization for iSCSI environments, with SSD twist

April 3, 2008

3 Min Read
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Nimbus Data Systems has released a series of storage systems that support SAN and NAS in one unit on iSCSI networks operating at up to 10 Gbit/s. The new systems also contain built-in solid-state drives, along with SAS and SATA II drives, to improve storage throughput.

The Breeze Hybrid series (H series) supersedes the supplier's former MX4 and 10G iSCSI systems. It includes two models: the Breeze VH630 and the larger Breeze MH860. Both feature two 10 Gbit/s Ethernet ports, four 1 Gbit/s Ethernet ports, four SAS ports, and eight processor cores. Both support up to 192 Tbytes of storage, with the VH630 starting at 11 Tbytes and the MH860 at 34 Tbytes; the VH630 has 8 Gbytes of write-through cache, and the MH850 has 16 Gbytes.

But the VH630 has 32 Gbytes of mirrored SSD, and the MH860 has 64 Gbytes. Nimbus won't name the SSD supplier, but claims its SSD is single-layer flash SSD, similar to EMC's Symmetrix SSD add-on announced in January 2008.

Like its predecessors, the Nimbus H series comes with integral NFS and CIFS support. Storage virtualization, RAID, replication, and snapshotting are provided via an integral operating system called HALO. Up to 24 tiers of storage can be set up, including a "tier 0" for dedicated SSD processing of boot images, database read/writes, or any other kind of selected data.

Who needs all this? According to Nimbus CEO Tom Isakovich, practically any organization with heavy-duty processing requirements that's looking to save costs by combining iSCSI networking, block- and file-based data handling, and SSD capabilities in one unit.At least one customer agrees. "Just getting rid of plate spins and I/O bottlenecks will be phenomenal," says Aaron Martin, IT manager for luxury goods manufacturer Loro Piana, which has 18 retail stores nationwide, along with offices in New York and manufacturing facilities in Connecticut.

Martin isn't actually using the new systems. Instead, he is upgrading drives in his two existing Nimbus MX4 and 10G iSCSI systems with the SSD capabilities, which he bought in late 2006 after evaluating units from EqualLogic, HP, and Lefthand networks. "I picked Nimbus because they had 10 Gbit/s iSCSI at the time, and I could get rid of Windows file servers because of their CIFS support," he recalls.

Martin says the SSDs will run under the HALO software he already owns and speed up processing of the company's applications, which run on VMware virtualized servers. The higher throughput will enable Martin to support at least 100 additional virtual desktops, he posits.

Martin says disk access with the SSDs has been "instantaneous" in trials, and he's more than eager to get his upgrade. "SSD will make 10-gig the bottleneck, not the hard drive," he quips. "I can't wait!"

Users will pay for the new capabilities: While Martin recalls paying $10,000 to $15,000 for the older Nimbus systems, the H series starts at about $75,000 for the VH630 and about $120,000 for the MH860. Both H series models are presently shipping.Up to now, Nimbus has been specialized in lower-end iSCSI targets and small systems. The San Francisco- and Chennai, India-based vendor has been aggressive in distributing its free iSCSI target software, which now has over 10,000 takers worldwide. Isakovich says that roughly 220 customers have purchased Nimbus hardware, including Agilent, Bank of America, and the Smithsonian.

With the introduction of the H series, Nimbus plans to turn a corner. While Isakovich won't give out funding numbers, he claims the company has been profitable for about six months, and the 50 present employees will be joined by others as the startup builds out a channel presence.

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  • EqualLogic Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Nimbus Data Systems Inc.

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