Nimble Storage, founded in 2008, and Tegile Systems, founded in 2009, have been close competitors in the data storage market for years. Both have since been acquired by larger companies: Nimble by HPE and Tegile by Western Digital. Both product lines remain fiercely competitive with one another.
Tegile Systems, Owned by Western Digital
Western Digital acquired Tegile in 2017. Western Digital retired the Tegile name, but retained the IntelliFlash product portfolio name. Intelliflash is a portfolio of intelligent flash arrays that provide high performance flash memory for a variety of enterprise workloads.
IntelliFlash includes inline compression and deduplication, RAID, data encryption, app- and VM-consistent snapshots, and replication. The arrays integrate with VMware vCenter, and support Fiber Channel, iSCSI, and NAS.
All arrays share a high-performance operating system: IntelliFlash Operating Environment (OE). OE enables software-defined flash management and single management consoles, and supports a variety of enterprise workloads including mission-critical enterprise applications.
Western Digital manufactures its own SSDs and uses them in IntelliFlash arrays, which keeps the arrays cost-effective. Western Digital also integrated IntelliFlash management software throughout many of its storage lines, which enables replication between SSAs and hybrid arrays. They also offer IntelliStack, an active archiving storage system.
- IntelliFlash N-series with NVMe. NVMe all-flash array with high-performance NVMe flash protocols and software-defined flash management via the IntelliFlash OE.
- IntelliFlash all-flash arrays. All-flash arrays in the T-series and HD-series are low latency and highly scalable. The arrays are purpose-built to consolidate workloads with variable block-sized I/O, such as enterprise applications, virtual environments, and VDI.
- IntelliFlash hybrid arrays. The T4X00, T4X30, T4X60 hybrid arrays combine flash memory and hard disk drives for efficient arrays with high capacity and performance. Deduplication runs on flash and HDDs, and supports concurrent SAN and NAS storage for VM clusters.
- IntelliFlash Metadata Acceleration. Separately stores metadata on SSDs, which enables very fast file processing using metadata. Both hybrid and solid-state arrays use the open source ZFS file system. IntelliFlash supports iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SMB, and NFS storage protocols.
- IntelliCare. Built-in predictive analytics that optimizes storage for efficiency and troubleshooting.
Tegile Systems Pros and Cons
- NVMe, all flash, and hybrid IntelliFlash arrays are compatible with each other, and support both block and file workloads.
- Western Digital Tegile went out of its way to simplify deployment, and a shared management console simplifies learning, management, and upgrades.
- IntelliFlash arrays start with 23TB so are more expensive than other arrays starting with a lower TB capacity. However, cost-per-TB is very reasonable without skimping on features and product guarantees.
- Western Digital is careful not to competitively overlap between the product families. Since the arrays are compatible, data centers do not have to do a rip and replace when adding additional IntelliFlash arrays.
- The acquisition provided some challenges to brand awareness. Users still search for Tegile, which Western Digital decided to retire.
- The IntelliFlash families do not have a native cloud gateway to the public cloud. Rubrik Hybrid Cloud Appliances enable cloud connections for IntelliFlash, but this requires additional outlays and infrastructure.
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Nimble Storage, Owned by HPE
HPE acquired Nimble Storage in 2017. The acquisition gave HPE a middle range of solid state arrays (SSA) between premium 3PAR and lower-market MSA storage lines. HPE positions Nimble for storage buyers who need high performance for mixed workloads, high capacity, cloud integration, and resiliency. HPE 3PAR is targeted to the large enterprise data center market that requires exceptionally high performance, robust resiliency and high scalability.
Integration with other platforms is also important. 3PAR and Nimble have several points of integration, and Nimble is deeply integrated with VMware and Veeam. Deep data reduction expands effective capacity, and sub-millisecond response times serve high I/O and low latency requirements for performance-sensitive enterprise workloads.
InfoSight Predictive Analytics improves storage performance and management by automatically applying level 1 and level 2 technical support. Predictive data storage supports iSCSI and Fibre Channel protocols, and includes data protection and backup capabilities as well as predictive features.
- HPE NimbleOS. The operating system is a highly efficient storage OS optimized for flash environments. Resiliency is built into the OS, which natively supports VVol VM monitoring, simplifies VM recovery workflow for vCenter, protects against accidentally deleting VMs, and takes application-consistent snapshots.
- InfoSight. Cloud-connected predictive analytics analyzes any issues in the Nimble arrays and automates level 1 and level 2 technical support. InfoSight uses large numbers of sensors throughout networked arrays to continually monitor and remediate storage device health. InfoSight is also proactive, delivering prescriptive forecasts to IT around performance, capacity, and bandwidth. Furthermore, the AI learns from its installed base, which lets InfoSight constantly fine-tune and optimize its operations.
- HPE Multicloud Flash Fabric. HPE supports cloud integration with flash fabric, which enables transparent data movement between on-premises arrays, and between on-premises and the public cloud.
- HPE Recovery Manager Central. RMC software integrates 3PAR StoreServ and Nimble AFAs with HPE StoreOnce. Although 3PAR and Nimble cannot replicate to one another, RMC enables both array families to use snapshots, backup, and replication on the same StoreOnce system.
Nimble Pros and Cons
- InfoSight is a strong customer support software that proactively addresses level 1 and level 2 troubleshooting issues. It also produces detailed analytics for IT, who can share detailed information and feedback with HPE support engineers. The analytics enable IT to better monitor and optimize their storage environment.
- HPE extends the value of its arrays with deep data reduction: up to 5x or higher reduction using variable block dedupe and compression. This allows HPE to offer high-performance arrays at cost-effective prices by increasing usable capacity.
- HPE supports high-speed memory in its Nimble arrays: NVMe PCIe SSDs and storage-class memory (SCM). NVMe is a memory-optimized protocol for non-volatile flash. SCM is very high-performance persistent memory–based media storage. Together they accelerate performance on top-of-the-line Nimble arrays.
- HPE Cloud Volumes support Nimble backup to public clouds. Nimble Cloud-Connected Storage for MS Azure integrates directly with Azure using Azure VM cloud computing services and conductivity components. Nimble also integrates closely with AWS, and supports multi-cloud data protection deployments using both providers.
- Nimble and 3PAR have different management interfaces and cloud integrations, and cannot replicate data between them. HPE is building more commonality and added InfoSight to 3PAR in 2017. However, the lack of wide integration between the two makes it more difficult for data centers to leverage both storage families.
- Nimble offers strong value because of its deep data reduction technology, but it is still on the higher end of mid-market flash storage pricing. Its entry level product is a hybrid array starting at $60,000 for 6TB raw.
- Nimble hardware is limited to active/passive controllers. The passive controller is a standby that can take over processing from a failed active controller.
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Tegile vs. Nimble Product Comparison Chart
|Tegile Systems||Nimble Storage|
|Controllers||Active/active or active/passive||Active/passive|
|Array Types||Hybrid, all-flash, NVMe||Hybrid, all-flash, NVMe, SCM|
|Cost||Mid-priced; List price starts at $190,000 for 23TB raw||High mid-market; list price starts at $60,000 for 6TB raw (lower starting price than Tegile thanks to lower TB arrays, but higher cost-per-TB)|
|Support||IntelliCare provides support analytics.||InfoSight Predictive Flash is a support and optimization gamechanger.|
|Capacity||Starts at 28TB raw, scales to 184TB in 2U footprint||Starts at 5TB raw, scales up to 124TB usable and 620TB effective in 2U footprint|