back to article Nimble: Just as well our cloud storage runs in our own cloud, eh, eh?

Nimble’s Cloud Volumes (NCV) store block data for use by Amazon or Azure compute instances, but the NCVs themselves are not stored in either Amazon’s Elastic Block Store or in the Azure cloud. With remarkable timing – Nimble made these claims just hours before the S3 outages, which had knock-on effects for EBS and other …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they've copied NetApp again? NetApp have been putting their systems in strategic locations *cough, Equinix, cough* for customers for years to connect to Azure and AWS.

    1. dikrek

      Nothing at all like NetApp does - and that's good

      @AC, this has NOTHING to do with what NetApp does (and I know - having worked there for many years, an experience for which I'm still thankful).

      What NetApp does is simply put customer systems at Equinix data centers connected to AWS & Azure. But then customers have to own and manage those arrays. It's just collocation. Every other vendor does something similar. Nimble's equivalent program is called Direct Connect, and it's exactly the same concept. It's not rocket science. Anyone can easily do this and it's not exactly groundbreaking stuff. But it's very convenient if you want to both own an array of your choice and do cloud bursting.

      However, Nimble's NCV offering is NOT the same thing. NCV customers never own, see or manage an array at all. All they see is a portal to a cloud service and they can select what they want, and keep it for as little or as long as they want, even if it's just 1 volume. No requirement to own and manage an ENTIRE array. Nothing to patch, either. It's a true cloud service.

      And for those wondering about the other kind of ONTAP: NetApp's ONTAP Cloud is ONTAP VMs running in AWS or Azure (with all that entails). Again, customers have to still own and manage ONTAP, plus troubleshoot it. In that case it's still like owning an array, it just happens to be virtualized, and it's faster to acquire than a physical system. ONTAP Cloud write performance is ultra slow BTW, unless they fixed that since I left almost a year ago.

      Why not join the NCV beta program and try it out? ;)


      D (the Dimitris mentioned in the article, in case there was any confusion)

      1. RollTide14

        Re: Nothing at all like NetApp does - and that's good

        So its not NetApp Private Storage as a Service??? Cause it sounds a lot like NPSaaS...

        1. dikrek

          Re: Nothing at all like NetApp does - and that's good

          NetApp does not provide a cloud Storage as a Service offering. Some partners buy NetApp gear and offer various services (and they ALSO do that for Nimble, 3Par, EMC etc etc - nothing unique there, the classic case of service providers buying storage gear and reselling portions as a service).

          NCV is different: it's a straight Nimble offering, with Nimble doing all the procurement, management, support, provisioning, orchestration and accounting.

          It's as simple as that: cloud STaaS offered directly by Nimble.



  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are NetApp Offering This?

    I checked out NetApp's offering and they advertise 9 partners that can sell you a service based on NetApp, but that's not NetApp's gear but owned by the partner. Most vendors have partners doing this, including Nimble. It does look like Nimble Cloud Volumes is Nimble doing block per GB off kit they own, which seems new.

    1. Orsebox

      Re: Are NetApp Offering This?

      Note: I am a Zadara Storage employee.

      They are actually doing similar to what we have been doing for a few years with our MultiCloud connectivity into AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Other CSP/MSP's and On-Premise. All consumable by the hour in our case with the same consumption model in the Cloud and On-Prem. Nothing new really but great that they have entered the market to validate our message.

      1. dikrek

        Re: Are NetApp Offering This?

        We didn't enter the market to validate your message, @Orsebox... ;)

        The big differentiator Nimble is offering with NCV is analytics beyond what anybody else is doing (think troubleshooting things well outside the storage, for instance), and extreme reliability. The flexibility, fast backups/recoveries/clones, performance and ease of use are welcome bonus items and we are happy we are also providing those.

        It was more about providing the amazing benefits of InfoSight to cloud customers. The InfoSight benefits are something no other company is even remotely close to having. And very very hard to replicate - we've been gathering and analyzing gigantic amounts of infrastructure telemetry for years, and have unique insights due to both the sheer amount of data, and also the time spent, elbow grease and sheer engineering brilliance. It's the cornerstone of what we do.

        This is really why I joined this company. The big data analytics capability is a game changer.

        It's also humorous what other vendors think when they hear the "analytics" word. Most think of basic trending and performance data or maybe a bit of what if analysis.

        Can you figure out whether an unrelated piece of the infrastructure is responsible for any weirdness in behavior, and why? And what to do to fix it?

        "Analytics" doesn't quite cover it since there are AI and machine learning components in addition.



        1. Cossie66

          Re: Are NetApp Offering This?

          I also work for Zadara Storage

          So lets think about this for a minute AWS S3 goes down - how does Nimble solve that with Block storage to what a single EC2 instance a failover cluster ?

          I think most of the services reliant upon S3 yesterday needed an Object Storage capability - don't think you do that - Zadara Does, so customers could have had a copy of their S3 data on Zadara Object, we could also have done this over NAS, NFS or CIFS Nimble couldn't.

          We could have connected this to multiple Clouds, AWS, Azure and GCP - take your pick, We could have also delivered to multiple clouds from the same storage NAS, Object and Block

          We could have and do deliver multizone HA across multiple DC's into all of these clouds in US East.

          Can you provide complete separation down through to the disk for each customer, or maybe you don't think noisy neighbours matter to your customers ?

          We can do all of the snapshots, clones, mirrors, online volume migrations, technology refreshes and are not tied to a pair of controllers in a rack - like to see how you Analyse a technology refresh, change of technology for a customer in 12 months 2 years and longer down the line.

          You can have all the analytics you want but unless you have an end to end view from the application downwards is doing and expecting you are peering through a keyhole. Unless of course you are looking into a customers data on disk, but you can't do that if it's encrypted right and you wouldn't be looking into a customers data either would you ?

          So the upshot is you have made a big noise about how customers would have been better on Nimble instead of AWS S3 for these servcies - So are we talking actual delivery or hypothetical maybe here ?

          Yesterday it was all about risk mitigation today its all about analytics. Maybe AWS need Infosight if it can predict the future and maybe even when the power is going to go out.

          Your right your not validating our message, your only in Beta yet :-)

          Regards S

        2. Orsebox

          Re: Are NetApp Offering This?

          To be clear @Dikrek, I have nothing against Nimble, in fact I like a lot of what you do and how you disrupt the legacy vendors. (Very much like ourselves) I also have a good friend working there who I respect a lot.

          My issue is more with your marketing team who are either ignorant or arrogant, I'm not sure which... To claim to be the "First" vendor to offer Enterprise-grade Multicloud Storage is simply not true. (And yes, I know they will have their spin on this claim...) As outlined above, slight delivery differences aside you aren't even the first vendor that begins with "N" to deliver this… (And to delve a little deeper into the history books here, do a search on eNPS, this may make you smile.) You can check out our website for an out-take of Enterprise customers who have been using our service for years.

          Regarding my statement around validating the message, whilst that may not have been your intention I think you will find that it will. The same happened with our On-Premise as a Service offering, the analysts really liked what we were doing but we stood alone in the market for a number of years. With HP, Dell, Nimble (I think you may find that your marketing guys claimed a "First" here as well...) and a few others entering this space in 2016/17 it finally got the validation that it deserved.

          Ultimately, I think you entering this space is a great thing for the End User and at the end of the day, that's what matters. Competition is healthy and I would highly recommend that any business looking to deploy this MultiCloud model checks out both options.

          Thanks for the banter! :-)

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Well it sounds quite clever and quite fast and quite reliable

    And therefor quite expensive.

    But then you've got to consider what's the cost to your business if your cloud storage and/or processing fails?

    I'd be intrigued if this was my thing.

    1. JRW

      Re: Well it sounds quite clever and quite fast and quite reliable

      JohnW from Nimble here.

      John Smith 19, you can check out pricing here. From 10 cents per GB per month. Not for me to say if that is expensive, all I can say is it is Enterprise grade flash block storage as a service for multi-cloud with the best analytics in the market.

  4. Lost_Signal

    Genuine questions.

    I'm curious if this this is LUNs only to EC2, or are there plans to get vVols into VMW on AWS?

    While it's easy to point to the array's uptime, what about the SLA of the network. I vaguely remember someone at AWS saying it was impossible to hit 5 nines of uptime with networking gear within an AZ.

    You talk about de-risking and making troubleshooting easier, but is their any type of performance visibility on the hops between you and the host (Something like Thousand eyes but for layer 2, maybe some SNMP/NetFlows?).

  5. Androgynous Cow Herd

    A premium offerering

    The NCVs are still block volumes, not object stores. So comparisons with S3 are not especially relevant - you cannot use them that way. As D pointed out, the real comparison would be for solutions built on EBS block storage, and traditional workloads that use block access - no one runs SQL on object storage. Block level cloud so far was built around parameters that got to a low $/GB solution, but at the expense of advanced features and to the point where even reliability is at a level unacceptable to an Enterprise customer.

    Nimble cloud is built by Nimble, using Nimble arrays and just as important, the Infosight telemetry that can deliver deep insight into the stack. All of the functionality of an on prem Nimble array is there. The true beauty is unlike any of the "Cloud Gateway" products I have looked at, This addition provides EVERY Nimble customer - over 10,000 as of the last numbers - a simple way to migrate or burst to cloud as needed with no additional hardware or solution required. So, when the PHB gets off a flight having read the latest copy of CIO imploring him to "embrace the vision of cloud"...the IT team can reply to his queries "We're cloud ready. We have Nimble."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disclaimer: Nimble employee and former long time NetApp employee

    Trying to be neutral here ...

    Arguments as to the originality of the architecture/approach aside --- one of the largest things overlooked in the comments here is the fact that any infrastructure in the cloud - to be "cloud" - must be easily consumable - to me that is providing a user experience on top of all that infrastructure. AWS and Azure provide an abstracted and simplified user experience.

    NPS doesn't have a simplified user portal that abstracts the user experience from the storage device. If anything, NPS is really just collocation + storage on demand (pay for what you use) pricing with DX into AWS --- as D points out ... everyone can and does do that (well, not everyone does SoD pricing).

    NCV has a simple portal that abstracts the user from ever seeing or dealing with the storage (as D points out) --- really like a regular "consumer" experience vs. having to be a storage guru. Perhaps better put, the user experience is more like the AWS experience of provisioning an EC2 instance. You have an account, log in ... a few simple windows later and your volume (LUN) magically shows up in your EC2 instance.

    In terms of latency, that is why you put the arrays (for anything like this) in the colo --- at Equinix you are just putting a cable from one cage (the colo rack) into the AWS side (directly into the AWS routers). Any additional hops would be from internal AWS routing or internal to the colo racks if the deployment is really large and needs multiple layers of physical networking devices. I've done a bunch of work with arrays using DX to AWS ... both from on-prem and in the colo. Colo latency and performance is actually really good - even for flash - and that is in my direct experience from **actually** doing it myself (with a real live array and stuff).

    Marketing will be marketing ... regardless, this is a very interesting offering in my opinion (especially since EBS leaves a lot to be desired - especially for flash).

  7. bwoo

    What about Zadara Storage, Chris?

    Chris, you write, "We’d point out that, as far as we know, no other stand-alone storage supplier is doing this." But I argue that Zadara Storage has been doing this for several years, and in Neuralytix's opinion, doing very well.

    1. dikrek

      Re: What about Zadara Storage, Chris?

      For the Nimble competitors popping up all of a sudden (lots of comments from AC and people that registered just now and have 1 post):

      Unless your offering truly is as simple as "I need X capacity attached to Y VM with Z SLA", then it's not really comparable to the NCV service from Nimble.

      NCV is a "enterprise-grade volumes as a service" offering. It's NOT a "virtual or physical array as a service" offering.

      When people want to consume cloud storage, they typically don't want to have to manage yet another array, even if it's virtual and living in the cloud.

      If with your "cloud" offering a customer has to worry about things like:

      - RAID (whether physical or made up of AWS or Azure disks)

      - disk replacement (whether physical or virtual disks)

      - drive counts, speeds and capacities (to go with the RAID above)

      - firmware updates

      - controller CPU and RAM

      - software licenses

      - cache

      - pools

      - tuning

      Then you aren't truly offering what most cloud consumers are asking for. You're offering yet another array, that just happens to be living in the cloud. And missing the point.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this article pushing whole idea is that the Nimble

    Co-located cloud is better than the others?

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