At the time I write this, Nimble Storage has completed its initial public offering (NMBL) and is trading at ~$31 a share, up about $10 from its opening price. While there were some nay-sayers in the analyst community, Storage Switzerland was never one of them. As policy Storage Switzerland and its employees don’t hold stock in any storage company unless it’s through a mutual fund, but we’ve been following Nimble from the beginning. The company is well run, has compelling technology and as we found out on our recent webinar, certainly has happy customers.
Nimble is a hybrid array which means it mixes hard drive based storage and flash. Unlike legacy systems that use flash as an afterthought Nimble has a ‘flash first’ focus that delivers more consistent performance than many of its competitors. It also has a storage file system that it designed from the ground up specifically for the hybrid environment. This file system provides compression for increased data efficiency and advanced snapshot capabilities that allow the storage system to play the primary role in the backup process, as we discussed in our report “Can Array-based Snapshots Save Backup?“.
The system also brings an intelligent scaling model to the data center. While most storage system suppliers make an initial design decision to go with a scale-up or scale-out storage architecture, Nimble attempts to provide the best of both worlds. It has an architecture that scales-up until you exceed the capabilities of the first unit and then can scale-out with additional units for near unlimited expansion.
Storage Swiss Take
Being a hybrid storage system should give Nimble a price advantage over All-Flash Arrays competing for the same IT storage dollar, but it may also expose them to the unpredictability of performance that does concern some IT Planners. However, because of its flash-first architecture and the efficiency of their software Nimble’s hybrid arrays can deliver a more consistent performance experience that should put some of those concerns at ease.