Last week I was briefed by NimbleStorage and in April I met Exablox during the Storage Field Day 3 event. Both of them are doing something intriguing with Cloud, Big Data, and the management of their stuff.

Cloud for what?

They are in the hardware business (the first produces iSCSI based hybrid-storage appliances while the latter has recently launched an object storage based NAS solution).
They are hosting their management tools on the cloud (Exablox all the software, while Nimble only part of it at the moment). There are many reasons to do that but the most visible to the end user are:

  • no software installed at the customer site
  • very updated software all the time
  • easy to use web interface
  • an easier way to get support (your management software is the support portal too)

Having your storage management tool on the cloud has advantages and drawbacks but, actually these is only the tip of the iceberg, there is much more than that.

The magic of the cloud (and Big Data)

I can agree with you that managing your on-premise storage from the cloud could sound weird, especially if you have only one box. On the opposite side, it is not so naive if you are managing many boxes all around the country. But it’s still not enough.

In fact the real advantage of having a cloud backend is all the analytics that could come with it!
For example, NimbleStorage’s InfoSight collects 30M sensors per system every day! They store all the data in a single huge cloud repository and they use them to compare the behavior of your systems with all the others, predict your needs, anticipate support tickets and so on. That’s brilliant!
Obviously, they can also use all these data to get to know their customers better and how they use the systems. For example, the vendor can use this information to actively propose best practices and develop features to solve issues that haven’t happened yet!
I’m also wondering how much time engineers can save by doing bug tracking with all this information!

Bottom line

The tools that I’ve already seen (1.0 versions) don’t look all that special from an end user perspective: you can have much similar info and insights from your on-premise reporting tool at the moment… but you should think about them as a long term bet.
Collecting all these data allows the vendor to develop better products and end user to have a very different (more conscious) view of the storage infrastructure, and these are huge advantages for both of them.
I hope to see many more tools like these in the future.