Solid-state array pioneer Nimbus Data's new E-Class array system is a sign that solid-state storage is moving from the high-performance fringe to the mainstream of the enterprise data center. Most first-generation, all-solid-state arrays, including Nimbus Data's own S-class, were best suited to targeted applications where high performance with single points of failure was acceptable. The new asset class, like most midrange disk arrays, has a dual-controller design to satisfy my enterprise reliability requirements.
While several vendors, including Nimbus, can make at least credible claims to have been the first to bring an all-SSD-array to market, Nimbus' S-Class was pretty clearly the first all-SSD unified storage system. Nimbus has sold quite a few S-Class systems, including more than 100 Tbytes worth to online auction site eBay. The S-Class, however, was a single controller design based on a Xeon server hardware platform, and most enterprise storage ministers want to eliminate all possible single points of failure
Nimbus as a company is quite different from the usual venture-funded all-SSD startup. Internally funded and profitable for the past three years, it doesn't get the press coverage some startups do when they land another round of financing. On the other hand, Nimbus gets to leverage all the years of development it put into its HALO operating system, which began life in more conventional disk-based storage systems.
That shows in the feature list of HALObased arrays: 1G- and 10-Gbps Ethernet, 8-Gbps Fibre Channel and/or 40-Gbps InfiniBand connectivity; file access via SMB (1 and 2 ) and NFS (2, 3 and 4); thin provisioning and snapshots; synchronous and asynchronous replication; and inline data deduplication.
Of course, Nimbus' whole plan is to make solid-state affordable enough that organizations will use it as a tier for all but their primary storage. At $150,000 for a 10-Tbyte system and $100,000 for each additional 10 Tbytes, it is approaching the tipping point that makes all-solid-state affordable for more and more organizations. Users with data that will deduplicate well, like virtual system hosting, will see Nimbus' systems as even more affordable as it includes all features, including deduplication, in the base price.
An E-Class is made up of two 2U controllers and one or more shelves of SSD storage. Each shelf holds up to 20 Tbytes of net raw eMLC flash, which Nimbus packages into its own SAS interface SSDs with flash 28% over-provisioned. You can scale an E-Class to a total capacity of 500 Tbytes--far and away the largest enterprise SSD array I am aware of. Competitors like Pure Storage provide just 20T or 30 Tbytes of capacity on their largest systems.
Disclaimer: DeepStorage has no business relationship with Nimbus Data.