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Nimble's all-in-one storage combines primary and backup in one box

Arrays use iSCSI, data deduplication and compression to create cheap, fast storage

July 16, 2010 03:22 PM ET

Computerworld - Start-up Nimble Storage came out of the development stage this week with its first product -- an array that combines solid state drives (SSD) with high-capacity, cost and performance serial ATA (SATA) hard drives, acts as primary and backup storage and replicates offsite for disaster recovery.

The array, designed by former NetApp and Data Domain executives Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari, Nimble's new CS-Series dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of primary and backup storage, cuts backup and restore times from hours to seconds, and provides disaster recovery.

"We combined primary and secondary storage into one box. What you get is the elimination of backup windows. We use snapshots. Backups are instant," Mehta said. "Now because we have these compressed snapshots, replication is very easy and can be done much more frequently. Also, because we're replicating from primary to primary storage, data is immediately available in a disaster."

The CS-Series arrays comes preconfigured with SSD that is used as cache to increase performance for high-I/O applications, and SATA drives for both primary storage and backup. Mehta claims the array costs users under $3 per GB of primary storage and 25 cents per GB for backup capacity. The arrays use iSCSI as a transport protocol, allowing them to be connected via typical routers to application servers instead of more expensive and complicated Fibre Channel architectures.

The 3U high (5.25-in) arrays come with two quad-Gigabit Ethernet ports and run on multicore processors.

"This is the first solution that places flash within reach for midsize enterprises -- companies with between 200 and 2,000 employees," Mehta said.

The array come in two models, CS220, which can store up to 9TB of primary data and 108TB of backup data, and the CS240, which stores up to 18TB of primary data and 216TB of backup data. The arrays can set up with policies to store backup data for 60 or 90 days. The arrays use 7,200 RPM hard disk drives from Western Digital and X25-M SSDs from Intel Corp.

Mehta said Nimble has secured more than $17 million in venture capital funding to date, and that the technology is a logical follow-on to its two founders work with other established storage vendors.

"Both of us have a deep and extensive background in storage. I started my career at Sun over 20 years ago, where I worked on NFS. Then moved to NetApp. Then we were both privileged to have same experience working at Data Domain," Mehta said. "What we're doing is a logical extension of what we did at NetApp and Data Domain."

Dave Conde and IT director at utility industry software developer eMeter Corp. in San Mateo, Calif., has been running a CS220 with 5TB capacity in a test environment for a litter more than two months, and if things continue to go as well as they have, he plans on purchasing two of the boxes - one for primary storage and one for offsite disaster recovery.

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