eBay taps updated Nimbus flash storage

Nimbus has launched the second generation of its S-class line of flash memory systems, which have been picked up by eBay to provide 100TB of storage to support its virtualisation software

Nimbus has updated its S-class family of flash memory systems, which have been picked up by eBay to support its virtualisation software.

On Tuesday, Nimbus launched the second generation of the S-class storage systems and announced that eBay is using 100TB of flash storage via 12 of the machines — an endorsement for the technology at a time when flash memory vendors are attempting to get a foothold in the enterprise.

"The Nimbus architecture has the potential to shift current thinking about the role of flash in enterprise storage, and turn notions of [storage] tiering upside down," Forrester infrastructure analyst Andrew Reichman wrote in a blog post.

"A huge part of the value proposition that Nimbus is claiming (and eBay is validating) is that they can deliver flash-only storage systems at comparable or better price points as systems that use spinning disk," he added.

eBay deployment

The auction and retail site is using the S-class systems as the storage infrastructure for its VMware-based virtual machines, according to Nimbus. It said that eBay was able to cut energy use by 78 percent and rack space by 50 percent, compared with a disk-based storage appliance.

While the flash storage specialist did not say which systems eBay had deployed, they are almost certain to be updated S1005M or S1005E 10TB models, as those are the only ones in the range that can scale up to 100TB in 12 systems. According to Reichmann, eBay replaced hardware from NetApp and 3PAR with the Nimbus storage systems.

eBay said in July that it must closely monitor its infrastructure to keep its business healthy. "Failure to upgrade our technology... or network infrastructure in a cost-effective manner... could harm our business," it said its second-quarter earnings report. "We must constantly add new hardware... to accommodate the increased use of our websites and platforms."

S-class systems

Nimbus launched the first generation of the S-class systems in April 2010, promising their prices would be similar on a per-gigabyte basis to those for disk-based storage arrays. The second generation, made available on Tuesday, adds in support for Fibre Channel and Infiniband connectivity.

The S-class flash memory storage line supports Windows Server 2003 and 2008, Windows 7, Linux, Solaris, HP/UX and AIX, along with virtualisation packages from Microsoft, VMware and Citrix. Several S-class systems can be chained together to form a storage pool of up to 250TB, according to Nimbus. They use Intel Nehalem or Westmere processors.

Nimbus's flash storage is done in Raid 5 for efficient redundancy, Nimbus said. Other vendors of all-flash storage systems include Huawei Symantec, Violin Memory and Texas Memory Systems.

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