Beyond Flash: Data Velocity and the App-Data Gap
By Suresh Vasudevan – CEO

Today marks an important milestone in Nimble’s journey, as we continue our track record of delivering innovation with another giant step forward in the storage industry. Today we are introducing our Predictive Flash Platform, and introducing a next-generation All Flash array that leapfrogs those already in the market.

Our journey began in 2008 when we set out to change the storage industry by leveraging two game-changing catalysts: flash, and cloud-based predictive analytics. Before we delve into the technology, let me synthesize the problem that we set out to address.

Applications power the modern organization. We are in an era where organizations rely on hundreds or even thousands of apps to power every conceivable business process. These business processes have a fundamental impact on business outcomes – customer acquisition, inventory management, pricing decisions, call center efficiency, and so on. These apps in turn depend on rapid, uninterrupted access to data. When something disrupts the delivery of data to applications, it can negatively impact business outcomes and hamper organizational effectiveness. We refer to this gap as the app-data gap.

What causes the app-data gap?

At Nimble Storage, we have examined the root causes of application breakdowns across more than 7,500 customers. It turns out that just under half of all app problems stem from storage related issues – performance challenges, capacity challenges, software issues, hardware failures, and so on. However, the remaining problems stem from issues in the rest of the infrastructure. These include compatibility problems, network configuration issues, host-side issues, inadequate compute resources, not conforming to best practices, and so on. The common denominator is that over half the application breakdowns stem from infrastructure complexity.

We believed that we could address the app-data gap by leveraging flash together with cloud-based predictive analytics. Our vision is simple – to deliver data velocity – and we built our Predictive Flash Platform to do just that.

The Nimble Predictive Flash Platform comprises three key components.

  • Unified Flash Fabric – The Unified Flash Fabric combines industry-leading All-Flash Arrays and Adaptive Flash arrays into a single storage architecture that brings flash to every enterprise application and dramatically enhances performance while simultaneously lowering the total cost of storage ownership.
  • InfoSight cloud-based predictive analytics – InfoSight monitors our customers’ infrastructure on a real-time basis from the cloud and leverages predictive analytics to predict and prevent the vast majority of infrastructure disruptions that can negatively impact applications.
  • Timeless Storage – Timeless Storage is our approach to ensuring investment protection to customers that deploy our products. It includes an unwavering commitment to customer success and guarantees all-inclusive licensing, that we won’t increase support pricing in later years, and protection against product obsolescence or forklift upgrades in later years. It also provides the ability for our customers to procure storage as capex or leverage our storage-on-demand solutions to only pay for storage based on actual usage.

As part of the Unified Flash Fabric, we introduced our next-generation All Flash array today with capabilities that leapfrog those of other all flash arrays – 33% to 66% lower TCO, performance that scales up to 1.2M IOPS with capacity of over 8PB, superior scalability that combines scale-up and scale-out, better resiliency with new triple+ parity RAID, and the ability to perform extremely cost-effective backup and disaster recovery by replicating from All Flash arrays to cost-optimized Adaptive Flash arrays.

More than 7,500 customers have deployed our platform in less than six years – a pace of customer adoption that has been unmatched by any storage vendor founded in the last two decades. A key driver of this rapid pace of customer adoption has been the support of our existing customers – the most vocal proponents of the value that we deliver. Our Net Promoter Score of 85 reflects this customer advocacy and is ahead of even the best brand names in technology.

What drives this degree of customer satisfaction?

  • Non-stop availability – Our data architecture was designed for six-nines availability, and we have already achieved a measured availability of 99.9997% across over 7,500 customers – less than eight seconds of downtime per customer per month! Further, most of our customers leverage our integrated data protection to protect their applications better: routinely backing up their applications every few minutes, replicating their data for disaster recovery, and encrypting sensitive application data.
  • Absolute performance – A common theme across our customer wins is that our customers experience 5-10X faster applications – reports that complete in minutes instead of hours; product development cycles that are faster; actual compliments from end-users whose virtual desktops run faster; database administrators that are no longer bogged down by storage performance; and many, many more examples that truly allow for a better application experience.
  • Cloud-like agility – Our goal is to ensure pain-free operations and extreme flexibility. InfoSight predicts and prevents 9 out of 10 problems, and when a customer does call our support team, they always reach a “level 3” support engineer. InfoSight has automated all that a “level 1” or “level 2” engineer would normally address, helping us consistently deliver an exceptional support experience. InfoSight also dramatically simplifies storage management through a global, cloud-based management portal. Other aspects that enhance our customers’ agility include all-inclusive licensing, the elimination of forklift upgrades every three or four years, and the ability to deploy storage and only pay for storage that is actually used.
  • Lower TCO – Nimble customers are able to lower the Total Cost of Ownership of storage by 33-66% compared to legacy storage systems and more modern alternatives. Our software architecture allows us to leverage cost-optimized 3D V-NAND flash chips and best-in-class data reduction, enabling the consolidation of all an organization’s workloads onto a mix of All Flash and Adaptive Flash arrays, depending on application needs and budgets. Beyond the capital cost savings, Nimble customers enjoy increased simplicity, painless technical support, and the elimination of forklift upgrades.

The storage industry is going through a period of unprecedented change. Large, incumbent vendors have experienced consistent revenue declines and market-share losses over the last two years because their legacy architectures are no longer competitive. At the same time, dozens of startups were founded over the last five years with the aim of displacing legacy architectures, but very few have been able to attain critical mass in terms of revenue momentum or a sizeable customer base.

Our goal is to emerge as the long-term leader in storage by leveraging the same technology catalysts that are disrupting the large incumbents. With the arrival of Nimble Storage All Flash arrays and Predictive Flash, today we establish a new benchmark, providing our customers with unparalleled data velocity.