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.. talks "SSD" to Nimbus's CEO

Editor:- April 26, 2010 - I spoke at length to Nimbus's CEO, Thomas Isakovich - about the new SSD systems they launched today.

Isakovich been a network storage OS pioneer for 10 years (prior to Nimbus he founded TrueSAN) so I joked that - unlike many new SSD companies - at least this product wouldn't be surprised by applications doing the wrong type of R/W IOPS (different to those encountered in benchmark suites).

The 1st question I asked was about the storage blades. I had already guessed (and he confirmed) the interface was SAS. But the surprise came when I asked whose SSDs was he using?

Isakovich said Nimbus makes its own SSDs - and that while the company was talking to many SSD controller suppliers - it planned from the outset to change these suppliers for other best of breed alternatives as the market evolved. In this respect - Nimbus is different to most others in the NAS SSD space - because the company supplies the whole software stack from the choice of silicon up through the OS and into the network. (Editor's note:- in contrast competitor WhipTail Technologies' product is a complex integrated bundle which uses 3rd party COTS 2.5" SSDs, licenses the flash write attenuation software from EasyCo and licenses dedupe technology from Exar.)

I asked Isakovich does Nimbus use SLC or MLC? - he said the internal flash is Micron's "enterprise grade MLC" - which has 6x the endurance of standard MLC.

He explained that Nimbus is aiming to offer a competitively priced product (2.5TB model costs $24,995) but unlike other vendors they decided not to offer separate MLC or SLC versions. The argument being that once you sold a system to a customer - let's say a low cost MLC SSD for video streaming - you couldn't be sure that the customer might not redeploy that same system into a different application accelerating their database (which needs higher endurance). His thinking seems to be that once the SSD rack is out in the wild of the enterprise environment - it has to be tough enough to handle ALL enterprise applications.

The flash systems include 28% over-provisioning and write attenuation.

I asked about the size of the RAM cache - Isakovich said it's 48GB which puts it in the fat flash SSD class. Users do have options on how they can deploy this to tweak performance. Unlike SSD ASAPs - which are designed to accelerate hard disk arrays - the name of the game with the new Nimbus product line is to make it attractive for users to place all their critical IOPS intensive data into SSD.

And with this new product Nimbus is saying - they like the flexibility and features of SAS SSDs - but that doesn't mean to say the market has to pay STEC or Pliant prices.

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Nimbus nixes STEC SAS SSD costs in new iSCSI rackmount
Editor:- April 26, 2010 - Nimbus Data Systems today launched its S-class storage system - a 2U 10GbE rackmount SSD with 24 hot swappable internal 6Gbps SAS flash SSD blades in an 80W power footprint offering 5TB protected capacity for $39,995.

Powered by Nimbus' HALO storage OS the systems support iSCSI, NFS, and CIFS protocols and provide inline deduplication (typically 10 to 1), continuous local and remote replication capability in-the-box at no additional cost. Data protection inside the box ensures that no data is lost even with 2 simultaneous blade faults.

Editor's comments:- there has been a lack of market leadership in the NAS compatible rackmount SSD market. This new product from Nimbus shows what can be achieved with a true bottom up enterprise design - in the same way that for FC SAN connected applications you'd look at systems from Texas Memory Systems and in the PCIe connected rackmount SSD market you'd look at NextIO or at Violin Memory.
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