Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s updated Nimble Storage platform supports Storage Class Memory (SCM) and NVMe for super-fast, low-latency flash. And the company guarantees it provides the most capacity-efficiency all-flash array on the market.
“If a customer finds that’s not the case, we will provide that additional capacity free of charge,” said Dave Kresse, VP and GM of HPE Nimble.
HPE acquired Nimble Storage in March 2017. The $1 billion deal boosted the company’s storage revenue, which has grown in the double-digits since the purchase. In its most recent earnings quarter, HPE reported storage grew 24 percent year over year.
HPE also acquired its InfoSight predictive-analytics technology in the Nimble deal. InfoSight uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze millions of sensors across the globally connected installed base and uses this data to help predict and prevent problems. The company recently added an AI recommendation engine to the platform, which is available to all Nimble Storage customers.
Kresse says these predictive analytics capabilities differentiate Nimble all-flash and hybrid storage arrays. “It continues to apply to this next generation of Nimble platforms,” he added. It’s also an example of why Kresse describes Nimble as “very much a software solution. It’s our secret sauce.”
When it comes to storage, vendors have different degrees of pure software-defined storage plays versus hardware-only plays.
“Our belief since the beginning of the Nimble product line is being able to take advantage of what you can deliver on software running on top of commodity hardware as the best approach,” Kresse said. “This platform is going to allow us to more quickly take advantage of innovations being made by the hardware vendors and do that in software.”
NVMe, SCM Support
The product updates also build HPE’s storage portfolio on “architectures of the future, to further unlock the performance of flash,” Kresse says.
HPE recently previewed SCM on the HPE 3PAR StoreServ architecture. With today’s announcement the entire portfolio of 3PAR and Nimble Storage platforms support SCM and NVMe.
NVMe is a protocol for fast flash drive connections. SCM is the next phase of this super-high-speed, low-latency technology. Analysts and vendors expect it to become more affordable and make its way into data centers next year.
“Customers will be able to seamlessly upgrade to any combination of those protocols,” said Sakthi Chandra, senior director of product marketing for HPE Nimble. “As the cost comes down, customers will be able to take advantage of those.”
Additionally, the Nimble hybrid arrays now have inline variable deduplication. So in addition to storing primary workloads, where flash speed and efficiency is important, it also works as a secondary flash array for backup and disaster recovery.
The company claims the hybrid arrays provide up to 150 percent greater price performance than previous arrays. And the all-flash arrays deliver up to 220 percent better price performance.
Versus Dell EMC Storage?
HPE’s Nimble Storage update sounds similar to Dell EMC’s PowerMax storage refresh, announced at last week’s Dell Technologies World. Dell EMC’s product is an NVMe-based array, which also supports SCM, and comes with a built-in machine learning engine that uses predictive analytics and pattern recognition to improve storage performance.
When asked how Nimble stacks up against PowerMax, Kresse said Nimble’s strength comes from its software. “You have to have the right operating system and software, and that’s where we’ve put most of our energy,” he said.
And about Dell EMC’s new built-in predictive analytics: “Dell ECM just announced its foray into AI, and we’ve been doing it for more than 10 years now,” he said. “We have over 1 million data points from applications to computer networks and storage components, and 86 percent of issues customers face in their environment don’t even it hit them. We are able to fix it proactively before the customer even knows it’s an issue.”
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Scott Sinclair said Dell EMC’s PowerMax targets higher-tier, higher-priority workloads, while HPE’s Nimble likely supports a larger customer base. “That is not to take anything away from Nimble’s architecture, but it has been more successful in more mid-range environments,” he said, adding that he’s impressed with HPE’s storage updates.
“There continues to be an increased demand for flash. I’ve yet to find anyone who says anything negative about flash other than we’d like it to be cheaper,” Sinclair said. “This release falls into the category of everything you loved about Nimble before is now faster, better, more capable.”