No Compromises for Nimble’s Entry-Level All Flash Array
by Dev Datta – Product Management

Earlier this year we introduced a family of All Flash arrays that is a generation beyond anything in the market. The arrays cover a broad spectrum of performance and capacity requirements and have quickly gained strong traction in the market. While All Flash has mostly been deployed in high-performance environments, as the market has evolved, it has become clear that some customers do not need hundreds of thousands of IOPS but still desire an entry-level All Flash array with consistent sub-millisecond latency. Today, we are addressing that need with the introduction of a new entry-level All Flash array, the AF1000. The new AF1000 MSRP starts under $40K, including 3 years of support.

The connotation “entry-level” often conjures up images of a product that is low cost, lower performance, and has limited features. While lower performance seems like a reasonable tradeoff for lower cost, in terms of IOPS, quite often many vendors will often also severely limit or handicap the feature sets and scalability of their entry-level models to achieve a low-entry price point. Sometimes, these limitations are technically necessary as their architectures simply cannot sustain all feature sets with reduced hardware resources, like CPU and memory. At other times, feature sets are limited artificially to position the model lower in their portfolio and to protect higher-end (higher margin) products. Either way, buyer beware… While lower entry points into the All Flash market may seem attractive, the compromises on feature sets and scalability may severely limit the usefulness of the product and end up increasing operational costs. Even worse, end users may be forced to purchase expensive hardware or software license upgrades to get to a workable solution.

The AF1000 makes no such compromises, and as a full member of the All Flash Array portfolio, inherits the same architecture and feature set of all the Nimble All Flash arrays:




The flexibility of the platform design and efficiency with which NimbleOS utilizes resources, like memory, allows us to provide a lower cost All Flash array without compromising everything else. The AF1000 provides our customers with an All Flash Array that delivers consistent sub-millisecond latency and has all of the same features and scalability that customers love about Nimble:

Scale-to-Fit:  The AF1000 will scale in 3 dimensions up to more than 8PB capacity at over 1.2 million IOPS:

Scale-Up: The AF1000 can be non-disruptively upgraded to all higher-end AFA models, up to the AF9000, without any down-time or data migration. Even if customers are buying the entry level model, they will never be locked into that performance profile and can opt to upgrade, in-place, if their performance needs change over time.

Scale-Deep: The AF1000 supports two 24-slot capacity banks on the array head, as well as the addition of a two-bank expansion shelf, and will scale up to 46TB raw or more than 165TB effective. This is far beyond equivalent entry-level All Flash Arrays on the market, some of which can only scale to 10TB raw. Additionally, the AF1000 inherits the efficiencies of NimbleOS which provides up to 20% more useable capacity per TB of raw flash than competing arrays on the market.

Scale-Out: The AF1000 supports the ability to cluster up to four controller nodes spanning any generation of All Flash or Adaptive Flash. The cluster achieves linear performance and capacity growth and is managed as one.

Common Data Services: The AF1000 inherits all of the NimbleOS Data Services, like snapshots, clones and native replication. All of these Data Services are fully functional and performance is not compromised when using them. Contrast this with some competitive entry-level models where the feature may not be supported, or even worse, the vendor claims that it is supported but the feature is so severely hampered that it is barely functional. Imagine planning on a replication schedule every 15 minutes, only to find that the platform cannot sustain the schedule. With the AF1000 data services capabilities are fully functional.

Data Protection & Resiliency: Apart from maintaining data protection services like snapshots and replication, the AF1000 inherits the robust data reliability that was built into all Nimble All Flash Arrays. Nimble was the first storage vendor to introduce Triple+ Parity RAID, allowing the AF1000 to immediately inherit the highest-bar of resiliency available. The “+” in Triple+ refers to the addition of intra-drive parity (see The Reliability of Drives) that allows any drive to also recover from partial or sector failure. Along with rock-solid reliability, NimbleOS has been designed to ensure the fastest rebuild times. In fact, the fastest in the industry.

Always-on Inline Variable Block Deduplication and Compression: The AF1000 was designed with sufficient hardware resources, like memory, to ensure support for always-on inline variable block deduplication and compression. Unlike competitors, these functions are not disabled under heavy write workloads.

Unified Flash Fabric: Customers can reap the benefit of clustering their AF1000 (or any other model) with the new CS Thousand Series arrays (see Doubling Down on Our Unified Flash Fabric) and manage them as one. Customers who utilize All Flash arrays for primary data can also replicate to cost-optimized Adaptive Flash arrays at a third of the cost (achieving very cost-effective backup, DR and archival for AFAs).

Timeless Storage: The new AF1000 is included under the umbrella of Timeless Storage which provides for all-inclusive software licensing at no additional cost, guaranteed flat support pricing for the life of the product, 7 year lifespan on SSDs.  It also includes an option that lets the customer receive  a free new controller after three years that is guaranteed to be at least 25% faster.

The Power of InfoSight Predictive Analytics and InfoSight – As with all of our platforms, the AF1000 comes with full support for InfoSight. InfoSight collects millions of sensor data points per array every day in order to predict and prevent problems and keep systems running optimally. The sensors collected by InfoSight span the entire infrastructure stack – all the way from the storage to the VMs. This provides three dramatic benefits to our customers:

  • Proactively informs and guides without alarm fatigue – Simply put, Nimble arrays just keep working optimally without the customer having to do anything. That’s because InfoSight is always monitoring the array with the goal of predicting and preventing issues before they impact the customer. Nine out of ten issues are discovered first by InfoSight. Surprisingly, 54% of issues that InfoSight addresses are non-storage issues.
  • Predicts future needs and simplifies planning – Predictive analytics and machine learning allow Nimble to accurately predict future needs, hotspots, areas of improvement, and more. In addition, InfoSight has a scenario planner that leverages installed-base learnings to model the requirements of anticipated future workloads.
  • Delivers transformed support experience from level 3 experts – InfoSight automates the tasks handled by traditional level 1 and 2 support staff. This has allowed Nimble to build a support organization made up entirely of level 3 experts who, on average, answer calls in less than a minute. Even the most complex issues are resolved rapidly because InfoSight has already collected all of the information required to solve the problem to root cause. Our storage industry leading Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 85 represents the strong confidence that our customers have about our support.

Nimble’s new AF1000 delivers a very compelling entry-level All Flash array that allows customers to achieve flash performance and consistent sub-millisecond latency without compromising scalability or the same advanced data services found on higher-end AFAs. As with all of our arrays, the true value of the AF1000 is unlocked through the power of the underlying proven architecture, InfoSight Predictive Analytics and the Unified Flash Fabric.