Nimble Storage CS240 review

Nimble Storage has combined quick SSD storage, backup and disaster recovery into the CS240. Dave Mitchell puts the triple play IP SAN through its paces to find out whether it is worth over £65,000.

Price
£65,540

The CS series of IP SAN arrays from Nimble Storage aim to offer a cost-effective option by integrating premium priced SSDs with low cost, high capacity SATA drives.

A key feature of these appliances is Nimble's patented cache accelerated sequential layout (CASL) technology. Along with inline compression, CASL employs an intelligent indexing system which keeps track of hot data and copies these blocks to the SSDs for faster access.

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Unlike many competing products, CASL doesn't need a lead time to analyse data access patterns to work out what's hot and what's not. It monitors activity in real time and changes in access patterns, so starts accelerating straight from the box.

Another important feature is snapshots. The appliances support no less than 1,000 per volume and can currently manage a total of 10,000. This allows them to hold a lot more backups in front line storage for much longer than most competing products.

Nimble

Nimble's management web interface is well layed out and provides plenty of status information

Specifications and connectivity

Our CS240 appliance came with four 160GB Intel 320-Series SSDs and twelve 2TB WD Enterprise SATA II hard disks. The SATA drives were preconfigured in a RAID-6 array with hot-standby but the SSDs were not placed in an array. The SSDs only held a copy of hot data so if any failed, all access reverts back to the original data.

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Nimble opted for Supermicro's 6036ST-6LR Storage Bridge Bay platform. This 3U chassis combines dual hot-swap controllers each equipped with 2GHz E5504 Xeons and 12GB of DDR3 memory.

The controllers have six Gigabit ports and function in active/standby mode. Each controller's NVRAM contents are mirrored for consistency and to allow the standby controller to take over in the event of a failure.

Nimble 2

Backup is handled during volume creation as protection profiles can schedule regular snapshots for you

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