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One more time: Flash storage vendor Nimbus Data declares hybrid storage dead

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Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought when it comes to flash storage. One holds that flash is perfect for performance-sensitive workloads but spinning disk is cheaper and that hybrid solutions that use both technologies are fine for many customers. The other says it’s time to put flash everywhere — on in servers, in storage. Everywhere.

Count Nimbus Data as one of the all-flash-all-the-time vendors. The South San Francisco company just launched Gemini F400 and F600 arrays that use 1X-nanometer MLC flash throughout and claim to quadruple-write performance and double-read performance — although it was unclear compared to what. Nimbus Data’s press release, with this news, unilaterally “declares hybrid storage obsolete.”

Nimbus Data says the combination of its dedupe, compression and provisioning software plus hardware cuts price per useable gigabyte to $0.78 and thus challenges hybrid HDD/SSD hybrid arrays on price. That’s a claim I’m sure some of the HDD/SSD vendors will be sure to challenge.

The company, which is self-funded — no venture capital! — launched its first all-flash arrays a year ago.

The newest arrays, which will ship in the fourth quarter, come in a 2U form factor and provide 3 TB to 48 TB of hot-swappable flash. Price for the F400 with 8 SFP+ ports for 16 GB fibre channel and 10 Gigabit Ethernet starts at about $60,000. The F600 with 8 QSFP+ ports for Infiniband and 40 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity starts at about $80,000.

It’s clear that flash storage is a big deal — there’s a bevy of startups built on its value and storage kingpin EMC(s emc) has dropped a lot of dough buying up flash expertise with acquisitions of ExtremIO in 2012 and ScaleIO this past year.

While Nimbus Data and other flash vendors will keep beating the all-flash drum, it’s still way to early to write off hard drives — or even tape — just yet.

10 Responses to “One more time: Flash storage vendor Nimbus Data declares hybrid storage dead”

  1. It’s going to cost quite a bit more per GB for SSD memory, but there are energy savings through both lower operating requirements and heat reduction. Electricity is a huge cost driver for large machine rooms so anything that can cut those costs in half will get serious attention.

    Given the rapid advances in density and reduction in cost in consumer electronic versions of SSD technology, I have little doubt that most machine rooms in the near future will be void of spinning hard drives.

  2. Lee Johns

    Remember the “A” Team and Mr T? “I pity the fool……..” if you want the math here it is in very generic terms.

    A 2TB Seagate Baracuda SATA HDD costs $99 on ($49.50 per TB)
    A 750GB Samsung consumer SSD on costs 529.99 (@ $705TB)

    So that is a factor of 14.24 higher. Now unless there is some deduplication or compression technique that can be run on SSD but not HDD that is 14 times better it is not possible for SSD-based and HDD-based or Hybrid systems to be in effect the same price per GB based purely on component cost and data reduction ratios.

    Of course in effect vendors use many techniques, architectures, software stacks and different types of media to achieve the right balance of $/GB and $/IOP with the right level of data availability. All are aimed at valid spots in the market. They are designed to fit though and if you want to achieve cost per GB you do not design around all flash.

    For a scalable Hybrid System that offers a great balance of $/GB and $/IOP you can take a look at Starboard Storage which just won best of show at the Flash Memory Summit. Which incidentally Nimbus was at.

  3. What Nimbus always ignores is that data reduction is not the exclusive domain of all-Flash based storage. It works for HDD too. Therefore ultimately the only thing that matters is ultimately raw cost and how that relates to the IOPS you need because other data reduction techniques are available to anybody. Add to that the fact that not all data can be compressed or deduplicated. For instance video data is mostly already compressed.
    Flash is more expensive than HDD. End of Story. Period.

    That does not mean it is all bad but it is for applications where you need high IOPS. Not for capacity.

  4. RobPaulGru

    RE:just launched Gemini F400 and F600 arrays that use 1-nanometer flash throughout

    I would double check for a typo here. No such thing as 1-nanometer flash.