Deliver Application Infrastructure With Confidence
By Ajay Singh, Vice President – Product Marketing, Nimble Storage

Storage infrastructure exists to power the applications that are the lifeblood of a modern enterprise. Much attention is deservedly paid to storage efficiency attributes such as price/performance, cost per GB and density. Nimble’s Unified Flash Fabric has dramatically delivered on these capabilities. However, once efficiency is addressed, the focus shifts on the ease at which the storage infrastructure can be deployed and delivered for those applications.

To this end, we believe three tests determine how “easy” it is to deliver storage infrastructure.

1. Does it elegantly integrate into the common management frameworks used to deploy software infrastructure?

Most enterprises today run a dominant share of their applications on VMware, with management leveraging vCenter, VASA and VAAI APIs, and more recently vVols. Nimble has made a big investment in making our storage simple to deploy in VMware environments, with the VASA provider and vVols Protocol Endpoints built right into NimbleOS (vs an additional “proxy” server required for other storage architectures).

For Microsoft environments, Nimble offers pre-built integration via SystemCenter plugins, PowerShell commandlets, or SMI-S APIs.

Hyper-scale KVM environments are frequently managed by OpenStack, and some very large OpenStack deployments leverage Nimble for storage via our Cinder driver. The recent certification of our Cinder driver by Mirantis is a sign of our continued investment in this area.

Another recent trend is the growing adoption of containers by developers and devops environments for both efficiency and agility of deployment. Now Nimble makes it possible to provide fast, reliable storage for “containerized” stateful applications by providing a fully functional Docker plugin.

2. Does it enable data management in a way that the application can leverage it most efficiently – for provisioning (creation and cloning) and protection (snapshots, replicas)?

Is provisioning delivered in a way that naturally translates to application requirements (performance, RPOs, encryption) and storage best practices, at the level of a VM, container or database? In Nimble’s case, the answer is resoundingly yes! Our vVols integration elegantly presents app-specific and policy-based management attributes to a VM admin so that storage concepts such as disk/flash tiers, RAID levels or backup windows never have to be addressed. Blogs and reviews by multiple VMware employees have highlighted that integrations with Nimble are the most elegant in the industry.

Duncan Epping

– Duncan Epping, Chief Technologist, Storage & Availability Services, VMWare

Snapshots, clones and restores can be performed natively within vCenter or Docker, leveraging the instantaneous snapshots/clone capabilities of the underlying storage. Provisioning, cloning or protection can be accomplished at the vdisk or VM granularity for VMware, database for Oracle, container for Docker. The new Nimble snap and clone utility for Oracle enables DBAs to efficiently protect or clone their databases without worrying about underlying storage concepts.

3. Does it enable the secure pooling efficiencies of a shared (multi-tenant) environment, while ensuring a tenant never consumes an unfair share of resources (auto QoS)?

The “scale-to-fit” capabilities of Nimble OS have long been popular with Cloud Service Providers. The ability to scale performance and capacity independently and easily makes it a great fit for multi-tenant environments with unpredictable growth. Deep visibility and trending via InfoSight pre-empts a high percentage of potential bottlenecks before they become problems. To complement these capabilities, Nimble has long offered volume-level encryption that ensures secure segregation and enables quick shredding of disparate data sets. Recently, we added auto-QoS for automated noisy neighbor avoidance to ensure all tenants get a fair share of system resources by automatically throttling a rogue workload, like a backup or vMotion job, during periods of contention.

We also plan to deliver powerful capabilities that will allow an admin to create a tenant resource pool leveraging folders, set boundaries around its resource consumption by setting explicit QoS limits, enable automated management via rich APIs, and monitor resource consumption via “tenant” reports in Infosight.

By integrating elegantly into mainstream management frameworks, enabling efficient data management for VMs, containers and databases, and enabling multi-tenancy safely, we believe Nimble passes with flying colors all of the key tests for elegant application storage delivery.