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Nimble Combines SSD & Disk, Targets Midsize Companies

Nimble Storage has unveiled the Nimble CS-Series, which is intended for
midsize companies of 200 to 2000 employees. The CS-series combines primary flash storage and secondary SATA storage, providing high-speed flash access at a reasonable cost along with simpler backup and disaster recovery. It is
available in two configurations:  CS220 (effective capacity 9TB primary
and 108TB for 60-90 days of integrated backup), and CS240 (effective
capacity 18TB primary and 216TB backup).  Each configuration offers high
availability through redundant, hot-swappable controllers, power
supplies, fans and drives and resiliency capabilities. The CS-Series
comes with thin provisioning, replication, zero-copy cloning,
application-integrated data protection, and diagnostics and support. It
supports both VMware, and Microsoft HyperV environments.

Dave Huie, network and technical services manager for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, in Northern California, has been beta-testing the product since May. It supports the 33 school districts in Santa Clara County. The organization, which currently uses EqualLogic iSCSI, had worked with some of the Nimble principals when they were with Data Domain, and agreed to take a look at the product. "It's pretty good performance and easy to manage," he says, adding that he hadn't yet had an opportunity to test the replication features yet. "The management interface on Nimble is easier to use than we've seen with EqualLogic." The organization is planning to purchase the products when funding becomes available, he says.

According to the company, users have had four challenges in managing storage: reliance on expensive drives to get the required performance; the long backup process that takes up a great deal of network bandwidth; administering a secondary storage box for backups; and being able to perform replication only on a daily basis. The combined device eliminates the major data transfer between primary and secondary storage, eliminates the backup window, and reduces the amount and cost of primary storage by putting only the most frequently used data into flash storage.

In addition, the company saves space by compressing all the data, typically up to two times for Microsoft Exchange and up to four times for databases. Because flash storage doesn't handle large numbers of random writes well, the device writes only large segments out to flash. Also, because the secondary storage is on low-costs SATA drives, users can store from 60 to 90 days of snapshots, and use them for the backups, as well as for disaster recovery.

The devices will be generally available in August. Users can also
specify the size of primary and secondary storage they want within the
device. Pricing starts at $3/GB for primary storage and $0.25/GB for
backup storage, meaning a range of $50,000 to $100,000.