By Dan Leary – Vice President, Products, Solutions and Alliances
The enterprise data storage industry is in the midst of a massive business disruption, as legacy incumbent vendors like EMC and NetApp face unprecedented challenges. Flash-centric innovators, especially companies like Nimble Storage that have expanded their presence from serving mid-sized companies to serving the world’s largest enterprises, are having a meaningful impact on the industry.
This new reality hit home a few months ago with the watershed announcement from EMC of declining revenues from their VNX and VMAX product lines, not just this year but for the foreseeable future. EMC has invested in a modern flash architecture in XtremIO, but growth in their all-flash array business won’t compensate for the steep declines in revenue across their core multi-billion dollar product lines. NetApp is faring even worse, announcing last month that product revenues are in a precipitous decline, down by double-digits (-12% year over year).
Alongside these technology and market disruptions, customer requirements are rapidly evolving, with growth in workloads like VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), data analytics platforms like Splunk, and mission-critical applications like SAP HANA as just a few examples. As a result, enterprises today are tasked with supporting hundreds, and in some cases thousands of different workloads, each with distinct business objectives, performance and capacity requirements, service level agreements (SLAs), data protection requirements, and so on.
EMC’s response has been to release a plethora of new product lines, each optimized for different business requirements, resulting in a complex mix of new storage architectures, operating systems, storage management software, and user interfaces for their customers to manage. The situation is further exacerbated by a maze of supporting software licenses and service and support contracts. These disparate storage silos are increasingly costly, complex, and inefficient to deploy and manage.
Since launching our first products to the market nearly five years ago, Nimble has consistently taken an innovative and fresh approach to solving customer problems. Our CASL software architecture delivers groundbreaking efficiency to enterprises, offering superior performance and capacity in one-third to one-fifth the hardware footprint, along with five nines of reliability, and fully integrated data protection. InfoSight leverages big data analytics to reshape the entire support experience, and as a result, over 90% of our customers’ support cases are automatically opened and over 80% are automatically resolved. In 2012, we introduced Scale-to-Fit, allowing our customers to independently and non-disruptively scale performance or capacity at the lowest incremental cost. And last summer, we introduced our Adaptive Flash platform.
Our vision with Adaptive Flash is to eliminate the need for our customers to deploy costly, complex, and inefficient storage silos. Instead, we offer a single platform flexible enough to support their complex mix of workloads, applications, and users. Adaptive Flash has already been proven in thousands of our customer’s data centers to offer equivalent or better performance than the leading all-flash arrays at a much lower cost of capacity and with vastly more flexible and efficient scalability.
But we’ve just gotten started with Adaptive Flash. What if all-flash and hybrid were not separate silos of infrastructure, but instead were storage personalities that could be dynamically assigned to individual workloads and managed from a common architecture and infrastructure? What if workloads that require an all-flash experience (i.e.: deterministic, sub-millisecond latency) could be assigned to an all-flash profile, ensuring blazing-fast all-flash array performance, with mainstream workloads assigned to an auto-flash profile that offers fast performance along with cost-effective capacity, and capacity-centric workloads served cost-effectively with no flash – all on the fly?