Nimble Storage delivers upon a practical hybrid cloud use case

We used to laugh about cloud bursting, but Nimble's Cloud Volumes is a much more realistic take.

Data science
Nick Hoffman (CC BY 2.0)

Back in the history of the cloud (say, eight years ago), there were copious debates around the topic of cloudbursting. Cloudbursting, for those unaware of the term, describes an approach toward hybrid infrastructure whereby a workload could run on-premises for standard load periods and then, when spikes in traffic occurred, would magically "burst" into the cloud for extra capacity.

While many appreciated the idea of cloudbursting from a conceptual viewpoint, others doubted its practicality.

But despite cloudbursting not really coming to pass, the idea of hybrid infrastructure, whereby organizations have workloads across many setups (from on-premises to the public cloud and on to multiple private clouds), has become very much a reality. One of the reasons for this is for risk reduction -- the thinking goes that by using a variety of different service providers, critical issues with one provider are, in theory, less likely to have a negative impact on the organization.

But here's the thing: Using a single vendor, while potentially introducing risk, reduces complexity greatly. Organizations need to balance ultimate risk reduction with a desire to avoid creating complexities -- or points of potential failure -- in their architectures.

Which is where Nimble Storage comes in. Nimble is a publicly listed vendor that focuses on storage, specifically by delivering a set of tools that aim to automate storage provision. The Nimble Predictive Cloud Platform aims to offer, in Nimble's parlance, "the fastest, most reliable access to data."

Nimble combines predictive analytics (knowing the right place to put something) with flash storage (having the fastest place to put stuff) in order to -- hopefully -- simplify organizations data center needs.

Nimble is today introducing its take on a multicloud storage service. The idea of the offering is to provide a block storage service that straddles Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

The theory goes that the first wave of applications moving to the cloud saw organizations implement cloud-native applications, mostly web and mobile. Now a new wave is taking place, suggests Nimble, in which organizations are starting to migrate traditional workloads -- CRM, financial applications, production data -- to the cloud.

This isn't about moving to cloud-based enterprise offerings, but rather moving these existing offerings onto cloud infrastructure. And with this move comes a demand for higher levels of availability and certainty. Which is where Nimble Cloud Volumes comes in.

Cloud Volumes is a managed service whereby organizations feel like they're using a single cloud storage resource. Behind the scenes, Nimble wrangles the connections between the two public cloud vendors, and organizations only pay for any changed data -- not for copied data.

What this means is that cloning data for disaster recovery purposes is easy and, most importantly, cheap. Other use cases that are applicable to this offering include test and development and analytics. Nimble promises six-nines availability (99.9999%) and boasts of massive data durability compared to the single-cloud alternative.

Apart from the reliability benefits, Nimble is pushing Cloud Volumes as a way to avoid vendor lock-in. Its thinking goes that by giving organizations data spread across two different public clouds, those same organizations aren't tied to one particular cloud.

I'm not so certain about that proposition, since it could be argued that Cloud Volumes somewhat locks organizations into cloud volumes! It also strongly articulates the need for a multi-cloud strategy -- hence the vendor lock-in angle doesn't really cut it for me.

MyPOV

While cloudbursting never really was a thing, this idea of giving organizations cheap and easy ways to replicate data across cloud makes sense. As I mentioned, I don't particularly buy into the "reducing lock-in" angle, but nonetheless, Nimble seems to be doing a good thing here.

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