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We recently sat with our friends from Comport as part of a joint webinar to discuss the current market trends and how they are driving an increased demand for bringing the cloud-experience on-prem. It spurred some great conversations and questions from our audience, which we have cherry picked and listed below.

  • What is smartInfrastructure?
    smartInfrastructure is server-embedded, infrastructure software delivered as-a-service, which offers the benefits of the public cloud on-premises, from core to edge for any application—containerized, virtualized or bare metal.
  • What trends are driving the need to bring the cloud-experience on-prem?
    We’ve found after speaking with customers that experiences with public cloud and COVID have changed expectations. Enterprises want the ease and simplicity of the public cloud, but can’t move their data for cost, compliance or security reasons. Most are forced to compromise on the cloud-experience. With smartInfrastructure, this is no longer an issue.
  • How does smartInfrastructure bring the cloud-experience on-prem?
    Through a control plane that sits in the Nebulon cloud, nebulon ON. Separating the control plane from the data plane and moving it to the cloud was a day 1 design decision. With traditional storage, management is usually done at a system or rack-level. By placing the control plane in the cloud, we can offer a true at-scale management solution with universal insights globally. Administration is completed through a single API endpoint, which offers fleet management, predictive maintenance, and simplified troubleshooting. Plus, you can easily take advantage of new features and enhancements as they are available instantly through cloud-delivered updates “as-a-service”.
  • You provided an example of a VMware nPod. Is this similar toVMware Cloud on AWS?
    Think of Nebulon smartInfrastructure providing the storage infrastructure services to VMware. IT organizations can use their normal VMware releases and software stack that they are comfortable with and use it on servers that they purchased from their server vendor with a Nebulon SPU installed. You can then form a VMware cluster. This cluster relates 1-1 to a Nebulon nPod. As shown in the demo, all servers in this nPod have access to the shared storage services in this nPod – no complex SAN zoning, LUN masking, or multi-pathing configuration. smartInfrastructure is basically a solution for VMware storage that utilizes standard rackmount servers without the need for a SAN. In addition, smartInfrastructure utilizes cloud management that brings in analytics to suggest optimizations to your environment, centralized management and reporting (if you have a larger environment), and you get new features delivered in the cloud without updating your on-prem infrastructure. Our Technical Marketing Manager wrote a great blog on how this all works.
  • Is there a minimum number of servers needed to install on an nPod?
    If your applications require high availability, you’ll need 3 servers. For small applications that don’t require high availability beyond multiple drive failures, you can build single-node nPods.
  • When you spoke about managing updates, are you referring to the updates of the SPU software or the nebulon ON cloud control plane?
    The separation of the cloud-based control plane and the on-prem data plane was a day 1 design decision. Nebulon ON is delivered as a SaaS type offering. This is a benefit of separating the control and data planes. Nebulon ON is managed as a subscription- based service where new features are rolled out in the cloud automatically. Unlike traditional storage models, where updates to the control plane require customers to also update the data layer or the firmware across all your controllers simultaneously. Traditionally, 70-75% of the updates are on the control plane. With Nebulon’s cloud-based control plane, features are updated automatically without having to worry about also updating the data plane. With smartInfrastructure, customers receive non-disruptive ‘micro’ updates to the on-prem data plane and can update (nebOS or SSD firmware for example) their entire fleet with a push of a button.
  • Can we try this? Is there a demo?
    Yes! You can request a smartInfrastructure virtual demo, here. Without having to do anything in your data center you can get a hands-on experience with our cloud-based approach. We can setup a virtual proof-of-concept by having you log onto the Nebulon ON cloud control plane which is connected to Nebulon SPUs in Supermicro Ultra servers in our data center, for you to test drive the technology.

Eager to learn more? Don’t forget to watch the replay of the Comport with Nebulon smartInfrastructure webinar. Also, if you’re ready for a virtual, cloud-based test drive be sure to request a demo.


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Brian Kelly

Solutions Architect

Brian has spent the last 13 years supporting large enterprise customers for industry leading, emerging technologies like Fusion-IO and Cohesity. Prior to Brian’s time in enterprise storage, he spent 8 years in the trenches with an architecture/engineering focus as well as customer support.