Written by: Marc Bingham
Date: June 2015

Capacity Without Increasing Performance

For some time now I’ve felt there’s been a small gap in the Nimble product range. The gap sits around the smaller end of the green beasts. The CS215 series array is a great product that happily kicks out 15k IOPS and provides around 12TB (Raw) of storage which is perfect for many businesses. That amount of storage and performance is ideally suited to a lot of small virtualised infrastructures that need good, solid and reliable arrays. When you consider that most businesses just consist of a stack of applications to support their business needs, technologies such as AD, DHCP, DNS, Fileservers, and some sort of database, usually all of these applications can be virtualised, and a single Nimble appliance can provide a simple, easy to manage “one stop shop” mentality to storage.

However, as your business grows, you build more virtual servers, performing more vital tasks and you suddenly need more performance from your storage. In the Nimble world this is simple to address you simply upgrade the controllers in the arrays and keep on trucking. All of which is great, but what if you just need more storage space?

Well the CS215 will take an expansion shelf. This 3U shelf can add up to 90TB (Raw) of additional storage in a single hit providing masses of room to get things just the way you need them. However expansion shelves are not cheap and what if you only need another 12TB? In some cases it made more financial sense to replace that CS215 with a CS300 series array. The CS300 arrays could be built with that magic 24TB number but had the “detrimental” effect of doubling the IOPS!  Scaling compute to add storage capacity is completely against Nimble’s ethos and so the brand new CS235 was born.

The New CS235 array is aimed directly at this gap in the range, providing the same IOPS capabilities as the CS215 array. The CS235 is the same 3U form factor as every over array in the range, however, it starts at 24TB(Raw) by making use of higher capacity drives and will scale all the way up to 300TB providing businesses with a much larger pool of storage capacity. This really comes into its own when you have large virtual fileservers on your array and you want them to benefit from Nimble’s great features such as performance, snapshotting and efficient offsite replication. Fileservers generally don’t need thousands of IOPS (especially so in SMEs) instead they just need stability and resilience so this makes a huge amount of sense.

The CS235 array is now the opening point at which a Fibre Channel customer can join the Nimble family as these new arrays support both iSCSI and Fibre channel. Until now the CS200 series arrays only supported ISCSI and you needed to step up to the CS300 range to get Fibre channel support. That’s now a thing of the past and this now opens up the CS200 series to a wider target audience.

The CS215 is sometimes a little on the small side for some customers so I can see Cristie recommending the new CS235 product to a lot of customers and the CS235 is also priced to fill the gap neatly between the CS220 and 300 arrays, reinforcing that sweet spot. We also think that the CS235 is a good candidate for replication targets, allowing customers to replicate CS300/500/700 to a lower cost but equal capacity system, where reduced performance in a DR situation would be acceptable.

The CS235 is considered “Newest Generation” and will make full use of all of the new features that Nimble will be releasing shortly. More on those in my next post!

6TB Expansion Shelves

Additionally Nimble have also released a new version of its expansion shelves. The ES1-H90T makes use of 6TB drives to provide up to 90TB (Raw) per 3U shelf. These shelves can be added to every array except the CS210 and CS400 series arrays by way of a single SAS connector (per controller) to the header unit.

Getting down to details, the CS215 array can have 2 shelves attached to them, the new CS235 will happily connect 3 shelves and the CS300/500/700 arrays can take 6 of these shelves bringing total capacity up to around half a Petabyte!

If you’d like to know more about the CS235 series array or the new expansion shelves please do get in touch.