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Nimbus Data Systems (www.nimbusdata.com) has unveiled its vision—Sustainable
Storage—and architecture—S-class—for enterprise network storage that is
believed to be the first all-solid-state-drive-based (SSD)
solution for the same price as enterprise-class hard disks. The
price/performance claims are impressive, but analysts caution that the claims
remain to be substantiated in the real world.

"This is clearly a stand-alone unified system that seems tremendously
compelling," says Taneja Group’s Jeff Boles, senior analyst of director of
validation services. "On paper they have a much more compelling solution
than anything else out in the market."

Mark Peters, senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group, agrees with both
points. "Everyone—Nimbus included—knows that real-world results will be
the clincher, but immediate product availability means we are close to getting
those, and if the S-class results are even close to its promises, then this
product is going to garner a great deal of favorable attention."

With solutions starting under $25,000, the S-class features industry-standard
10 GbE and GbE connectivity; unified iSCSI, NFS
and CIFS support; up to 504 redundant NAND flash blades; and Nimbus’ HALO
storage operating system. The S-class offers 95 percent lower energy costs, 24
times greater IO performance and on-demand scalability to 100TB of solid-state
storage.

Nimbus CEO and founder Tom Isakovich tells
Channel Insider that his company wanted to move the storage industry forward by
developing the first enterprise-storage solution with enterprise-class features
and functions based entirely on flash, for the same price as disk. He calls
disk the root of the storage performance problem.

"At the end of day, the hard drive remains substantially slower and more
power-hungry than any other element in storage." Without improvements, you
can’t deliver better performance, he adds.

The performance numbers appear impressive, agree the analysts. Nimbus says
its systems consume 95percent less power than traditional disk-based arrays,
delivering 6,000 IOps per watt and up to 675,000 IOps per floor tile.

For example, one S-class shelf would consume 80 W and 2U of rackspace and
deliver uncached IO performance comparable to 2,080 15K-rpm drives that would
require eight full data center racks and 37,000 W of power. Throw in integrated
inline deduplication and compression, S-class systems further reduce the
storage footprint of virtual machines by up to 10 to 1, achieving capacity
density up to 25TB per U of rackspace, an eight times improvement over typical
15K-rpm drive arrays, states the company.

The S-class delivers up to 1.35M uncached IOps and 41G bps of throughput
performance for the target markets, says Isakovich. The prospective customers
include traditional midsize enterprises working with virtualization packages
and SMEs working with intensive database applications. He says they are also
seeing interest from the high-performance computing community because of the
price/performance.

Isakovich says reliability and serviceability were key design objectives if
Nimbus wanted to supplant hard disks. So the systems feature all the bells and
whistles of traditional storage, including enterprise-grade NAND with 28 percent
overprovisioning, write amplification, and wear-leveling technology to spread
workloads.

Each flash blade is enhanced by RAID 6 technology across the blades, protecting
data even in the event of two simultaneous failures while also providing live
spares that automatically rebuild blades in a fraction of the time of
traditional hard drive rebuilds, states the company. Redundant network
controllers, dual processors, mirrored system memory, redundant power supplies
and fans, and dual operating system images ensure maximum availability. The
auto-negotiating quad network ports enable users to migrate from Gigabit
Ethernet connectivity to 10 GbE without any downtime.

Nimbus is in the process of recruiting channel partners. Isakovich says they’re
looking for companies that specialize in storage, virtualization or databases.
He recognizes that the company must validate the claims they’re making.

"We need to have current deployments of the product and turn them into
case studies." There are three pilot customers, including the company’s
biggest client, the Department of Defense.

"Once we have that, then I think the right kind of channel partners will
come and find us."