What is our primary use case?
We have type of a private cloud-hosted solution in our data center. Nimble allows incredibly, fast data access for our SAN to our hypervisors and cluster. Nimble is just so good at what they do as far as the adaptive and hybrid flash stuff. We have two arrays: We have an adaptive and hybrid.
We have a lot of healthcare clients. We have some who are in surgery at five in the morning. We are running these pretty heavy, intensive databases and SQL servers on the Nimble (or which are pulling off the Nimble). Having that type of server pinned to a specific volume, then having that volume accessible and prioritized over the other data which is on there, that is super helpful. This is why we like Nimble and what they do.
How has it helped my organization?
We want rock solid stability, making sure all of our customers have complete 100 percent uptime, which is our goal. Nimble achieves that pretty well.
InfoSight is a regular part of our weekly routine. We don't use it every single day, but we do check in on things every once in a while. Luckily, with Nimble, you can forget it and you don't really have to worry about it. However, if we do need to look into an issue, we definitely use InfoSight.
InfoSight has increased the availability of analytics and our ability to quickly get to them. We can migrate things faster. We can pull stuff out of production. We can restore from backups more quickly with the Nimble system than anything else.
We have had a couple of networking issues, temperature alarms, and a few things in our data center going on where InfoSight will scale back our utilization (or whatever) in order to keep us productive and up.
InfoSight has enabled us to get our servers back up faster, especially on the back-end. We have instant recovery. We are able to access that fast storage within seconds, which is very helpful. It enabled us to get service back up in a minute and a half.
The solution has improved our throughput tremendously. It has been on-demand access with 10 gig fiber. The disks, even though some of them are spinning discs, are rated, or in Nimble's little custom config in the way that it hits the cache first, then throws it off to the cold later. This is perfect, and it is great. It has improved everything.
What is most valuable?
The way that it optimizes the hot data versus cold data is really what Nimble does super well.
What needs improvement?
I would like deduplication by default on all the volumes. I still don't understand (or know why) dedupe isn't enabled for the templates out-of-the-box. We have to go in and manually enable it each and every time. It might help to have a software revision for something like this, or even a more intuitive local dashboard, not InfoSight, but Nimble's local dash. That would be great.
The UI and local dash need improvement. They have changed it around a little bit between firmware upgrades. When you do that, things are out of place and not where they used to be. There is also some granular nitty-gritty analytics that we would like to get down into deeper, like when you view volumes, you have percent-free space, and the ability to sort those volumes by the percentage or sort by the amount of data: the megabytes, gigabytes, etc. That is no longer available in the new UI. I would love to see that improved, where you can sort down the list.
While InfoSight is very useful, if you widen your scope of range when you're trying to look at a month of reports, the averaging that it does sort of skews things a bit. If you drill down further into a day or hour, it looks a lot better. I wish they would have a chart or GUI that didn't average as heavily, just giving you minute spikes and things that you could see on a wider view.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using the solution for three and a half years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability is awesome. The product has always been reliable. It has been 100 percent up. We have never had any downtime with it. Even if a controller fails due to our firmware or whatever, it rolls over to the second one and keeps us running.
Outside of the outages which are beyond Nimble, such as power issues in the data center or heat. Nothing has been an issue with the Nimble product.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability is awesome. We have the potential for multiple petabytes moving forward. While we don't take advantage of that right now, as we only have maybe 400 to 500 terabytes, the scalability (and the ability to add a shelf dynamically by just throwing it in there and adding it to the pool) is simple and easy. We already did this with our CS300, and it turned out real well.
How are customer service and technical support?
Nimble's support is awesome and one of the best. You sort of get a Tier 3 plus guy every time that you call, no matter if it is a Tier 0 issue. This is super helpful in case we ever have problems.
The technical support never has anything that they can't solve for us. I have thrown everything at them that I could, and they are always on top of it.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
We were running out of space. The ability to compress and dedupe stuff with Nimble is unmatched.
Coming off old Dell EMC PowerVaults and our own custom SAN solution that that we had running with storage, it has changed our entire ecosystem dramatically with the fast access times and the 10 gig fiber coming off of it. There is just nothing like it. The access times are less than two milliseconds.
We keep our latency super low, even with 200 plus servers on it, which has really changed the ball game. Access to that data used to be a lot slower. Now, it's not, which is great.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is very straightforward. I set up one last week, and you plug in your basic information for the array: The name and IPs, then you add it to your group, defining where you want it to point to. It's simple. It took me about 10 minutes to get everything up and rolling with the new HF.
What about the implementation team?
We used a reseller, Flair Data Systems, out of Colorado Springs for our deployment. Flair has been awesome. They are partners for a lot of other things, as well as Nimble products.
What was our ROI?
We have seen tremendous ROI. It pays for itself 10 times over in the matter of four years.
The solution has increased our performance. We have about 20 times the IOPS that we use to, which was a huge selling point for us. We don't even use close to the amount that it is capable of handling, but it is certainly 20 times faster than what we had before.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at Dell EMC, Nimbus, and Nimble.
Nimble just stuck out of the pack. The demo that they gave us years ago was really what sold it. We have a reseller who we work with, and we are a partner with them for other things. We do networks for them, and they do other system switching for us. The reseller had a Nimble and demonstrate it to us, which made the deal right there. It wasn't Nimble who did the demo, it was the reseller, and the reseller really came through.
What other advice do I have?
Try it out. Demo it. Just have somebody put it in front of you, so you can poke around and demonstrate how it works with a real environment. Check out a Hyper-V or VMware. VMware is a lot more integrated with Nimble than Hyper-V. Live migrate your stuff. Move your stuff. Send backups to it. Send it over across the wire to a DR. Everything just works, and that is what we want.
It has been rock solid, 100 percent on time, and we have never had any issues with it.
We receive about a 2.4x compression rate, even on our old HPE CS300. With the new HF-Series, we will probably achieve a lot more than that because they have a lot of deduplication, etc. Unfortunately, we just deployed that last week. So, we are still in the trial process with it.
All-flash is coming down the pipeline. We don't have all-flash yet. We have all hybrid arrays. We are moving in that direction probably within the next two years or so.
We don't utilize any public cloud or HPE cloud stuff yet.
Biggest lesson learnt: Always go with a great vendor that has a great product.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.