By Stephen Daniel – Product Management

SAPCerti_Business_Process_Outsourcing_CG10_C_r_pAlongside this week’s announcement of Nimble Storage’s new SmartStack solution for SAP HANA, you might have noticed something about the Nimble CS500 and CS700 Adaptive Flash arrays being certified by SAP as enterprise storage solutions for the SAP HANA platform. Ho-hum, another certification.

Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. A team of Nimblers worked long and hard to meet SAP’s rigorous requirements, overcoming a number of challenges:

  • Nimble initially focused on iSCSI storage arrays, a protocol that SAP does not certify for SAP HANA, so our successful launch of fibre channel connectivity in November 2014 was a key milestone.
  • SAP won’t accept a vendor into the certification process unless they believe their customers will rate the vendor’s product quality highly. This wasn’t an issue for Nimble, given that we have achieved more than two years of “five 9s” availability, on a customer base that is now more than 5,000 customers.
  • The certification tests require demonstrating not only that we have enterprise-grade performance and availability, but that we have the support of other vendors in the SAP HANA ecosphere. You cannot certify storage in a vacuum; that’s why we’re particularly thrilled about our close partnership with Cisco, and how that helped in building a HANA-capable infrastructure.
  • Perhaps the biggest barrier was that before investing our time and energy in the certification process, we needed to know we’d be competitive – that there would be strong reasons for SAP customers to buy our products. What Nimble brings to the SAP HANA infrastructure is the adaptive flash platform. From research with our SAP customers and partners, we know that SAP landscapes contain a mixture of applications, some requiring the fastest available storage and some requiring much more economical storage, with all of the landscape running as a single managed environment.

Customers building SAP infrastructure using their Tailored Datacenter Integration (TDI) process can match Nimble with any server on SAP’s and Nimble’s certification matrix. For those who choose to use Cisco UCS blade servers, Nimble’s new SAP SmartStack provides complete details of how we configured the system for certification at SAP, and how those settings can be used in various customer environments. Nimble’s SmartStack for SAP HANA can substantially reduce the time to implement, enabling customers to begin gaining a return on their investment sooner and with lower risk.

In addition to the SmartStack, we’ve also added to our adaptive caching algorithms some new methods that are directly aimed at in-memory computing. You’ll see these in the next major release of the Nimble OS, at which time we’ll be back with specifics on tuning for SAP HANA.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few questions to ponder:

  • If your hottest data lives in server memory, how does your storage array know that data is hot?
  • What prevents the array, which sees very little of the activity against that data, from migrating it to cold, spinning disk-based storage?
  • If it does, and the server reboots and wants to reload that data back into memory very quickly, are high-capacity, low-performance disks the right place for that data?