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Nimble Storage

Nimble Storage has developed the first converged storage and backup solution that significantly reduces the cost and complexity of storing, accessing, and protecting data for enterprises. The company's CASL architecture uniquely combines flash and high-capacity disk to support the most demanding primary applications and reduces backup windows and restore times from hours to seconds—all for at least 60 percent lower cost than existing solutions. Nimble Storage also provides a simple, cost-effective disaster recovery solution that offers business continuity and long-term data protection. Nimble Storage solutions are available through a nationwide network of IT solution providers. For more information visit

see also:- Nimble's SSD accelerated backup blog

after AFAs - what's the next box?
What were the big SSD ideas to learn in 2016?
is remanence in persistent memory a new security risk?
enterprise market consolidation - beyond the mushroom cloud
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who's who in SSD? - Nimble Storage

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor -, February 2015

Nimble Storage entered the rackmount SSD market in July 2010 - with product lines which were initially hybrid arrays.

Nimble has never been in the Top 20 SSD Companies researched by readers. Its best rank to date has been #33 in Q1 2016

The company's main products are still predominantly auto-caching hybrid storage appliances with iSCSI and some FC SAN connectivity - depending on the model.

In the 12 months period upto October 31, 2014 Nimble reported revenue of $200 million.

I discussed the need for new pricing models in the rackmount SSD market in my (July 2014) article - Exiting the Astrological Age of Enterprise SSD Pricing which predated Nimble's own variant on this theme - Storage on Demand - which the company announced in November 2014.

But Nimble's "Utility-based Storage on Demand Pricing Model" offering is part of the same big idea by vendors - how to break the logjam of indecision in user buying patterns when they are faced with complex SSD enhanced solutions whose cost effectiveness is difficult to model and predict in as easy a way as past dumb storage.
Nimble Storage mentions in storage history

In July 2010 - Nimble Storage announced the release of the Nimble CS-Series an iSCSI compatible SSD ASAP which has been optimized for backup and compression performance. The model CS240 has 18TB of primary storage and 216TB backup. At launch pricing was under $3/GB (usable) for primary storage and $0.25/GB for backup storage.

In October 2013 - Nimble Storage filed its FORM S-1 documents for an IPO.

In March 2017 - Nimble Storage agreed to be acquired by HP.
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Nimble video discusses 5 9's in 5,000 systems
Editor:- February 21, 2015 - Nimble Storage recently disclosed (in a sponsored video fronted by ESG) that its customer deployed rackmount storage systems are achieving better than 5 9's uptime - 99.999% availability.

news image Nimble reliabilityThis has been attained in a field population of 5,000 arrays representing 1,750 years of system run time thanks to a combination of factors including the crowd sourced intelligence of its InfoSight management system which can alert users to potential down time events so they can take evasive action before bad things happen.

Editor's comments:- While useful in telling us how many systems Nimble has sold it's less useful as an indicator of availability given that the average run time across the population is about 4 months.

It would be more impressive if they could repeat the disclosure in a few years time and selectively extract the up-time of systems over different run times, upto 1 year, 1 to 2 years etc.

If indeed Nimble is still in a position to do so, and if it would still meaningful given the consolidation in hardware and software which lies ahead for the enterprise SSD market may mean that vendors will be using the same hardware.

thinking inside the box
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Enterprise SSDs - the Survive and Thrive Guide
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what do I need to know about any new rackmount SSD?

"a flash-based write buffer needs to be even more reliable than an NVRAM-based buffer, because it is larger and the overwrite-absorption and re-sorting might make it difficult to recover the system to a consistent state upon loss.) On the other hand, a read cache does not ever store the only copy of any data, so it can be constructed inexpensively without sacrificing reliability..."
Umesh Maheshwari, Co-Founder and CTO, Nimble Storage in his blog - Write Caching in Flash: A Dubious Distinction (January 12th, 2012)

See also:- DIMM wars
Why are so many enterprise users orphaned in enterprise flash array business plans?
Decloaking hidden segments in enterprise SSD
Nimble expands on scalability
Editor:- August 6, 2012 - "Scalability" - in SSDs and storage - means different things to different people - and this is one of the themes discussed in my SSD symmetries article.

So I was curious to see what Nimble Storage meant by the word "scale" - as it's used more than 30 times in a recent press release from the company about a new range of rackmount SSD ASAPs.

A blog by Nimble's CEO, Suresh Vasudevan yesterday gives a more precise explanation of what they mean - which is in effect - you can scale capacity by adding hard drives or scale performance by adding SSDs - or do a bit of both - "without ever disrupting applications."

Nimble's systems span a much narrower range of performance scalability than you would see across the enterprise environment - so I'm not sure if scalability is the word I would have chosen to describe what they do.
read the article on SSD ASAPs
"Flexibility and convenient management within a useful application footprint" is probably more accurate - but doesn't sound so hot.

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HP values Nimble at > $100K / customer
Editor:- March 7, 2017 - HP today announcement it has agreed to acquire Nimble Storage for just over $1 billion.

See also:- SSD company acquisitions since Y2K
"While NVMe over PCIe shaves off about 10us relative to SAS, NVMf can shave off about 100us from the roundtrip latency between two hosts relative to protocols such as iSCSI. It also saves CPU usage from TCP/IP processing.

This can be particularly beneficial in scale-out systems for transferring data between hosts. It does require RDMA-capable NICs and DCB-capable switches, so it will take some time for mass adoption."
Umesh Maheshwari, founder and CTO, Nimble Storage in his recent blog - NVMe and NVMs - What to Expect (December 28, 2016).
...there are additional techniques, besides compression and deduplication, that can reduce space usage significantly and thereby increase the effective capacity.

One example is - Zero-block pruning the system does not store blocks that are filled with zeroes.

This technique can be seen as an extreme case of either compression or deduplication. Also, some systems generalize this technique to avoid storing blocks that are filled with any repetitive byte pattern.
Umesh Maheshwari, Co-Founder and CTO - Nimble - in his blog - Understanding Storage Capacity (January 7, 2016)
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fast growing Nimble comments on perceptions of being a hybrid storage supplier in all flash applications
Editor:- May 26 , 2015 -Nimble Storage (which got its highest ranking to date in the Top SSD Companies List in Q1 2015) today reported that revenue in its recent quarter grew 53% yoy to $71 million.

In a related conference call (transcript) - Suresh Vasudevan, CEO said, among other things - "the hybrid market we are competing in is roughly $10 billion, growing to about $14 billion as per IDC's estimates over the next 3 - 4 years... the frequency with which we compete against all-flash alternatives has increased and our win rates are indeed high... However, when we do lose against all-flash alternatives, it's typically 2 things happening simultaneously.

"One, the customer has a singular application where they've taken performance challenges and the customers saying I want to solve the needs of this particular database or this particular application. And the customer has by and large selected all-flash arrays as the answer for that point need and that's often where we find that we are taking perception challenges as much as to the reality of what our platform really does."

Editor's comments:- Another factor for hybrid companies like Nimble, Tegile etc - when viewed from the context of some high end all flash applications - is that much of the functionality of their tiering software is considered to be irrelevant or simply adding to the cost and latency. This is a segmentational and positioning problem which isn't entirely answered by adding AFA models to the product line.

The long term strategic question for all storage box vendors - when seen from the perspective of user consolidation thinking - is to choose how they will position themselves:- either as a strategic supplier of raw white box hardware or as an integrator or software supplier which collaborates with someone else's standard boxes .

See also:- Branding Strategies in the SSD Market
Nimble outshouts others in hybrid storage array social media traction
Editor:- February 18, 2015 - A social media scored ranking of these 5 companies - Avere, Nimble, Tegile, Tintri and XIO - can be seen in a recent blog - Hybrid Storage Array Industry Social Landscape - by Don Jennings, Senior VP - Lois Paul & Partners.

Among other things Don says "not many of the storage companies in our analysis have clear content strategies to provide information and value to their followers. This is especially true on YouTube, where these companies are rarely posting anything other than product-usage videos. We also dont see any of them engaging with industry media and influencers..."

Setting aside for the moment any reservations you might have about the validity of using social media as a significant enough comparative measure for enterprise companies - Don comes up with some interesting statistics for each company about the level of its followers, tweets etc. And by those measures Nimble comes out top of his list. the article
I don't think we've reached stability in reference enterprise SSD designs and use cases. All the systems in the market today are implementations of transient architectures...
what kind of SSD world can we expect in 2015?
the SSD IPO saga turns to Nimble
Editor:- October 18, 2013 - Nimble Storage has filed its FORM S-1 documents for an IPO from which we learn the following things.
  • Nimble has 1,750 end-customers
  • Nimble had $50 million revenue in the 6 months ending July 31 - at which time it also had 464 employees
Editor's comments:- unlike Violin which IPOed recently, Nimble's rackmount systems are primarily caching hybrid arrays. Although this is another very crowded market segment within the enterprise SSD product continuum - Nimble has a clear positioning message which is...

"Our mission is to provide our customers with the industry's most efficient storage platform."

I like that wording - because exactly a year ago in my home page blog here on - my theme was Efficiency as internecine SSD competitive advantage.

PS - If you're researching Nimble (Storage) then please be careful not to get them mixed up with Nimbus (Data).

Nimbus's CEO told me recently he'd prefer it if I always expanded "Nimbus" to "Nimbus Data" - so that people don't get Nimbus confused with Nimble.

This SSD malapropism isn't something which I had considered before.

I replied that in the unlikely event that serious customers (as opposed to casual readers) ever did get confused - the solution would be for one of the companies involved to change their name.