By Sheldon D’Paiva – Product Marketing

Companies are using more and more applications every day, and to remain competitive in building out their data center infrastructure, IT leaders increasingly rely on integrated infrastructure validated through reference architectures – proven configurations of specific compute, networking and storage components.

Nimble Storage and Cisco have teamed up to deliver SmartStack™ – an integrated infrastructure platform built on best-of-breed technologies. SmartStack solutions are built around a reference architecture that is validated by all our alliance partners in the stack – this means that customers don’t have to take on the risk, cost, and complexity of a “roll-your-own” stack.

Nimble provides a variety of SmartStacks, all including Cisco’s network and compute components, but optimized for a variety of environments including those from vendors such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, SAP, and Oracle. Let’s dive a bit deeper into what makes an infrastructure stack a SmartStack.


Components in a SmartStack

Applications and Workloads

Infrastructure exists to deliver applications and workloads. That’s why each SmartStack solution is tested specifically for each workload that it targets. For example, VDI can be a complex workload to deploy – there are many layers in the stack that have to be sized and deployed correctly to enable a good end-user experience. Many of our customers want a turn-key way to deploy VDI, so Nimble started providing a VDI-optimized solution in 2013, then expanded to add support for critical workloads including Microsoft applications (SQL, Exchange, SharePoint), Oracle databases, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, and SAP HANA implementations.

Compute and Networking

For compute, SmartStack uses the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), which is the fastest growing product in the market with over 100 record performance benchmarks. SmartStack designs include both the original UCS for larger scale deployments, as well as UCS Mini, which includes the Fabric Interconnect in the chassis. Nimble arrays can work with network switches in larger scale deployments, or plug directly into the UCS Fabric Interconnects. This makes for compact and cost-effective deployments, especially with UCS Mini, since the complete SmartStack infrastructure can be deployed in as little as nine rack units – six for the UCS Mini and three for the Nimble arrays. With UCS, scaling compute for SmartStack as business needs grow is easy – simply add blades as needed. And with UCS Director, SmartStack customers can automate and publish workflows for the entire infrastructure stack. This includes storage tasks such as volume creation and deletion as part of a workflow. This single point of management speeds time to provisioning, reduces manual errors, and can also help enforce policies and processes.


Like the foundation of a skyscraper, it’s crucial that the integrated infrastructure start with a really solid foundation. In the case of enterprise data storage systems, today that foundation must be based from the outset on effectively leveraging flash storage to deliver much higher performance at the fraction of the cost of traditional systems. Nimble Storage CS-Series arrays are at the foundation of every SmartStack. But what about disk? Capacity intensive applications still require disk, and leveraging disk-based snapshots for data protection is a cost-effective way to get around ever-shrinking backup windows.

Storage needs to be scalable in terms of performance and capacity, or you risk ending up with silos of infrastructure built on different storage platforms; not a good thing. Nimble’s Adaptive Flash platform can effectively leverage both flash and disk to adapt to a wide range of application profiles. It can also scale storage performance and compute independently – and non-disruptively. That pairs nicely with the scalability of Cisco’s UCS, to enable right-sized deployments today while avoiding forklift upgrades in the future as the business grows.

Indeed, combining Nimble’s storage technology with Cisco’s compute and networking provides an integrated “best of breed” solution. Nimble Storage is noted as a partner to Cisco, who is a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Integrated Systems, published August 11, 2015. Click here for access to the report.

This is an exciting time at Nimble, as many IT leaders from around the globe will be arriving in San Francisco this weekend for VMworld 2015. Nimble will be there in booth #1705. There will also be a panel discussion on integrated infrastructure, featuring Nimble customers BuySeasons, Inc., Seneca Mortgage Servicing, and Corona-Norco Unified School District: SDDC6246-SPO – Next-generation integrated infrastructure: A panel discussion.

We hope to see you at VMworld. In the meantime, see what IDC analyst Eric Sheppard and two SmartStack customers had to say about integrated infrastructure and its benefits: Integrated Infrastructure with IDC Analyst Eric Sheppard and Guest Customers