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Today I am proud and excited to share that I have joined Nebulon as a Principle Technical Marketing Engineer reporting to Chief Operating Officer, Craig Nunes. You may have heard in the news that recently Nebulon arose from Silicon Valley stealth world as Cloud-Defined Storage (CDS). I have known Craig for some time now and over the course of the last year he has been briefing me on what the team has been building. The more we talked, the more it became clear to me that Nebulon is not just another storage play. Imagine for a moment a complex scenario, rolling in racks of servers, plumbing things up and watching automation completely take over the provisioning. If you’re a developer, taking an idea quickly from thought to reality without having to rely on the complexities of existing on-premises solutions while obtaining public cloud like benefits. These are just a few of the possibilities that a Nebulon solution enables. This blog will introduce the Nebulon technology, explain what the team has been building and highlight why I joined Nebulon.

The Foundation
Nebulon was founded by the rock star team who built, designed, and IPO’d 3PAR Storage Systems. From a technology perspective this crew brought the renowned Thin Provisioning and an Application Specific Integrated Circuit – aka 3PAR ASIC to market. 3PAR grew to become a multi-billion-dollar organization who was eventually acquired by HPE.

Nebulon Cloud-Defined Storage
Nebulon CDS is comprised of a cloud-based control plane called Nebulon ON and an on-premises, server-based data plane. Nebulon’s on-premises data plane leverages a full-length, full-height, double-wide PCIe card known as a Nebulon Medusa 100 Services Processing Unit – SPU for short . There is NO software to install to on your servers or additional VMs to run (unlike most HCI’s). The SPU is seen to host operating systems as a Broadcom 3408 which benefits from factory installed drivers. Local server SSDs are aggregated together to form ‘virtual volumes’ with support for up to 32 application servers being clustered together to form an nPod. The SPU equates to what you may be familiar with an enterprise grade storage controller and provides storage services like compression, deduplication, encryption, snapshots and data availability via Erasure Coding.

This is where it really gets interesting…Management and APIs
Nebulon ON is the secure cloud-based control plane which sends instructions and receives telemetry data from nPods. SPU updates are delivered as a SaaS offering, completely simplifying enterprise fleet management. Nebulon ON features and capabilities (AI, monitoring, reporting, analytics and management) are delivered to customers frequently and require zero interaction. Nebulon treats the SPU much like Google Nest treats the thermostat in your home – an API-first architecture which is controlled, managed and secured by the cloud. This design principle provides endless opportunities for automation.

Nebulon presents block storage to application servers. Think hypervisor hosts, bare metal Windows or Linux OS’s. This makes Nebulon a good fit for on-premises virtualization environments, Kubernetes or even cloud-native NoSQL use-cases too.

Nebulon Configuration Templates are applied to an nPod to deliver a consistent configuration to ALL servers within the nPod. A Configuration Template is comprised of a few options: Storage Style (local, shared unmirrored or shared mirrored), Boot Volume Size, Boot Image URL and Additional Volume Size. Yes – I said boot image and URL! The art of the possible here – you may have vSphere hosts running one version, take a snapshot, upgrade to vSphere 6.7, update 3, and potentially roll-back if needed. Same goes for Windows Server patches on the oh so fun Patch Tuesday. Customers may have a set of servers running CentOS and then re-provision those same servers to run a completely different operating system. Nebulon will GA with a Python SDK and a PowerShell module. My team is working on Ansible examples to help customers imagine the art of the possible. Lastly, we are also planning to GA with a native Kubernetes CSI driver.

What is most exciting about Nebulon?
Nebulon aims to be a building block towards a next generation self-service infrastructure. With Nebulon ON, our cloud-based control plane, we are unlocking many capabilities which are simply not possible today in the on-premises datacenter. Nebulon ON allows updated functionality to be delivered at a rapid pace, without any user involvement. For example, as more customers utilize the platform, the more benefits all customers will receive via AI which we will be applying to anonymized telemetry data. These updates are SaaS-based and will not require complex firmware upgrades. Administrators will benefit from reduced management burden and no longer need to manage “storage” and instead can manage their applications. Nebulon’s API-driven architecture paired with having a physical PCIe-based storage controller (essentially an IoT device) within each application server or hypervisor host will allow for enhanced automation possibilities. There is some wicked cool tech happening here and I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to be a part of it!

Be sure to stay tuned over the coming weeks and months for some interesting posts around the “Security Triangle” and data integrity. These key topics have been thoroughly thought through and have been instilled in the product since day #1!

There is a ton more to share, be sure join us on August 5-7 at Storage Field Day 20 and learn more!

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Clint Wyckoff

Principle Technical Marketing Engineer

Clint Wyckoff is an avid technologist, cloud enthusiast and IT Pro Community contributor with over 15 years of real-world enterprise data center architecture experience. Clint is an energetic and engaging speaker and places a large emphasis on solving the real-world challenges IT professionals face.