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.

Noisy, but easy deployment

The system has solid build quality, but it is noisy. Each controller has seven dual-rotor fans. The noise level is high and a rack full of these appliances will be deafening.

The CS240 is easy to deploy as you pop in your ear plugs, fire it up and run Nimble's Setup Manager. This locates the appliance and a quick start wizard guides you through assigning a management IP address and choosing an operational mode.

For testing, we used the shared access mode by linking up all twelve Gigabit ports to a single switch. For full fault tolerance you spread the connections across two switches to ensure management and data access redundancy is maintained.

Nimble 3

The controllers run in active/standby mode and we found failover worked fine during testing

The main web interface is tidy and we found it easy to navigate. Each port can be designated for management, data access duties or both. We opted to keep four on separate subnets for data access only.

Logical volume creation can be done quickly. Thin provisioning is supported so you can specify a volume size and choose a percentage of this to start with. CHAP authentication can be applied as can a Nimble performance policy which sets the block size to suit the application using it.

Roll back time

Backup comes into play immediately as you select a protection policy which defines a snapshot schedule for each volume or a group. Nimble also provides support for Microsoft VSS application and VMware vCentre virtual machine consistent snapshots.

With your first and second storage tiers on the same appliance, offsite replication is essential. Partners are defined between local and remote appliances and snapshots are replicated for individual volumes and groups.

Snapshots can be used at any time to roll back a volume to a specific point in time. All snapshots are retained so you can jump around to any rollback point you want.

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