Nimboxx broadens Atomic Unit platform to support high availability

Nimboxx adds high-availability features to its Atomic Unit to support migrating storage from physical to highly available virtual machines.

Nimboxx Inc. expanded its Atomic Unit hyper-convergence hardware and upgraded its MeshOS operating system software to high availability (HA).

The startup last week rolled out the AU-110X platform with 256 GB of RAM and 9.6 TB of raw storage. It doubles the 4.8 TB raw capacity of the AU-110 platform Nimboxx introduced last year when it came out of stealth.

The Nimboxx high-availability MeshOS 1.3.1 supports two-node failover between AU-110X devices.

Like its predecessor, the AU-110X hardware is a 1U, 10-bay device that combines compute power, networking, storage and virtualization inside the box. The AU-110X can be populated with eight 1.2 TB SAS drives for persistent storage and two 480 GB solid-state drives for caching. Roughly 7.7 TB is usable storage.

Connectivity is provided by two 10-Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports and four 1-GbE ports. The vendor claims a single AU-110X can deliver 360,000 random read/write IOPS for data-intensive workloads and support 200 virtual desktops. Listed use cases include Web analytics, large-scale databases and audio/video processing.

Two-node quorum failover, automatic VM promotion 

MeshOS uses the open source Linux Kernel-based Machine (KVM) as its hypervisor. The V1.3.1 release requires a minimum of two AU-110 devices for failover and uses an Ethernet network switch as a third node to establish quorum. Vendors typically require at least three network nodes to ensure failover.

High-availability VMs are mirrored across a Nimboxx cluster. MeshOS automatically promotes secondary copies into production if the quorum determines primary VMs are unavailable. Nimboxx said its storage enables each VM to access up to 20 virtual network interface cards.

Nimboxx vice president of product marketing Andy Salo said the HA features can help customers migrate storage from physical to virtual servers.

"What we normally see is people migrating off legacy servers because they want a faster, higher-performing configuration that increases their storage capacity on a per-node basis," Salo said, adding that the vendor acquired more than 20 customers during the first quarter of 2015.

Nimboxx's sweet spot is businesses with at least 500 employees, but "we're seeing more large-scale enterprises start to leverage hyper-converged infrastructure," Salo said.

HA support 'mandatory' to keep up with competition

The use of network gateways as a quorum device should help Nimboxx cobble a niche in an increasingly crowded hyper-convergence market, said Arun Taneja, president of IT consulting firm The Taneja Group.

"Having HA capabilities is a given in this market. It's absolutely mandatory," Taneja said. "The nifty thing about Nimboxx is they found a way to get a quorum with only two storage nodes. That's noteworthy because it gives them a nice entry point for smaller installations that want to minimize hardware costs."

Nimboxx hyper-converged rivals Nutanix and SimpliVity provide failover for multiple hyper-convergence nodes. The company also has to keep its eyes on Scale Computing, the only other hyper-convergence vendor designed to natively support KVM.

"Unless they plan to stay at the lower end of the market, they will need to deal with supporting two-node failure scenarios," Taneja said.

The AU-110X pricing starts at $39,995 per 1U appliance.

Nimboxx's Salo said the latest edition of MeshOS does not use technology from the Verde VDI tool it acquired from Virtual Bridges in February.

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