What is most valuable?
The built-in performance profiles have made tweaking settings for different uses (SQL log files, SQL data files, VMware datastores, etc.) extremely simple. The built-in profiles are more than enough for most implementations, and if you need to create a custom performance profile, the process is simple and well documented. The analytics available via Infosight (The online Nimble support portal) are extremely well written and useful too. In particular, I find the analytics extremely useful when tracking down causes of latency that occasionally crop up and affect processing.
How has it helped my organization?
The Nimble SANs, as part of an overall move from standalone servers to a combined virtual infrastructure, have allowed my client to be much more responsive to their clients. The client is a SaaS provider that does large analysis/predictive modeling for the retail market. The previous hardware setup had database processes running for 14 hours or more, creating long turn around times for users. The new servers, running on the faster Nimble storage, allowed processing times of two hours or less to be achieved, allowing for faster results, as well as the ability to process more datasets concurrently, servicing more customers.
What needs improvement?
While I was not present for the sizing discussions, I believe there was some lack of discovery in selecting the model and features for my client. Even though the flash size on the array was doubled from Nimble's initial recommendation, the SAN still has latency issues during the largest dataset imports, due to CPU limitations on the SAN model that presales had recommended for this client. Certainly not the end of the world, and it can be fixed with an upgrade, but it was somewhat frustrating for my clients. I suspect estimations were used as to what the expected load would be, without a full understanding of the data processing being performed.
For how long have I used the solution?
I originally installed one of these SANs for a customer just over three years ago. Since then, two additional SANs (same model, features and capacity, have since been added).
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
Deployment was great. The web configuration was extremely easy (and has gotten easier with every major release). Network configuration, utilizing Juniper QFX 5100 10gb switches, was simple too. All Nimble required was jumbo frames and enough network ports of each speed, 1gb and 10gb, for data and management.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The initial SAN that I installed has been extremely stable. The second of the three SANs has had occasional issues with a controller crashing, eventually leading to replacement of one of the controller heads. Failover was seamless each time it happened though, and we were able to keep working with no loss in performance (one of the few advantages of an active/passive array). Support replaced the faulty controller after appropriate testing and troubleshooting, and the problem hasn't recurred.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Yes and no. The SAN chosen was not ideal for the workload found, but growing in breadth, expanding the load across multiple arrays (with and without Group configuration) was very simple and fast, making use of the built-in replication to copy data. It is also easy to expand vertically via upgrading the controllers, though my clients chose not to do it.
How are customer service and technical support?
Customer service with Nimble has been great every time I've dealt with them. They've always been very responsive and friendly to deal with. I definitely have appreciated the experience of dealing with Nimble Customer Service. Technical Support
The technical support at Nimble is stellar. The analytics available via the Infosight web portal are extremely detailed, and yet well laid out and easy to peruse. In addition, the portal is regularly upgraded, with additional information, new views, and easier navigation. If the analytics there aren't sufficient, though, technical support is always happy to provide whatever additional help is required, including taking the time to do deep analysis of all settings in the environment (ie, Nimble and VMware settings, or Nimble and Windows settings) to ensure that things are configured optimally.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
This particular environment was all standalone servers and storage previously. Decision was made to move to shared storage to support movement from standalone servers to a VMware cluster on Cisco UCS blades.
How was the initial setup?
Initial setup was extremely easy. There was a Windows app for initial configuration to get the SAN configured on the network for management, and then subsequent work (volume creation, snapshot schedules, etc) is all web based and extremely easy.
What about the implementation team?
I implemented these SANs personally, and did not make use of a vendor team.
What was our ROI?
It's hard to say, since it was a complete change in the datacenter going from
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Licensing is dead simple and not a concern on this product, as all features are included. SANs are purposely CPU limited in a particular model, so be aware that even if you have enough flash for all your typical needs, you may hit a hard CPU limit on performance before you run out of flash. Luckily, head upgrades are easy and fully supported, allowing movement up to faster models.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I was not part of the initial hardware selection. My client was working with a VAR to choose and obtain the hardware for a data center refresh. During this process, it eventually worked out that I took over the complete data center refresh project, from design to deployment.