Niko selects Nimblestorage as a consolidation platform for SAP, Siebel, and Microsoft applications.

17 augustus 2017


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Niko selects Nimble as a consolidation platform for SAP, Siebel, and Microsoft applications.


  • IBM storage systems were reaching end of support
  • Lacked visibility into system metrics
  • Not happy with the level of support received from existing vendor


  • Nimble Storage CS500 Fibre channel-attached arrays
  • Nimble InfoSight management
  • VMware vSphere 5.1


  • Obtained comprehensive visibility into system metrics
  • Achieved up to 40% faster performance for backup jobs
  • Received excellent, proactive support from Nimble team



The Niko Group
Niko Group manufactures electrical switches and sockets for the residential market. The company was founded in 1919 in the town of Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Niko Group has expanded significantly over the years, and now operates from several state of the art manufacturing facilities in Belgium and Denmark, and over a dozen sales offices in Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, and Slovakia. “We believe that people deserve a modern, esthetic electrical installation that gives them comfort, control and efficiency,” said Jan Van Moere, network and security engineer at the Niko Group. “Our job in IT is to provide and support the IT systems and applications that enable us to achieve that goal.”

IT Challenges
The Niko Group virtualised its on-premise data centre several years ago using VMware vSphere 5.5. “We went from a physical hardware service to a 95% virtualised environment standardised on the VMware platform,” Van Moere explained. “After we finished the virtualisation initiative, we started moving more of our workloads into the cloud, including our R&D environment.”
Niko Group was relying on an aging IBM SAN for its virtualised environment. “Our IBM systems were almost eight years old and had exceeded the warranty period,” Van Moere said. “We were also starting to experience a lot of major outages on the IBM systems due to relatively minor technical issues. For example, just replacing one hard disk in one of the IBM systems would crash the entire environment. Instead of investing more money on the existing infrastructure, we wanted to look for a newer solution that could provide higher performance and more stability than our aging IBM systems.” Van Moere was also unhappy with the level of support his company was receiving from the existing vendor. “When we asked for support from IBM, they told us the problem was our responsibility since we put a new drive into the system ourselves. They told us that we needed to use IBM engineers for everything if we wanted their support organisation to be responsible for our systems. The situation was starting to cause serious disruptions to our business, so we made the decision to leave IBM and look for a better technology partner.”

Searching for a New Solution
Niko Group started looking for a new storage solution in 2013, according to Van Moere. After evaluating several options, Van Moere narrowed the list down to HP, NetApp, and Nimble Storage arrays. “I looked at the HP and NetApp systems, but I felt that Nimble had a more modern approach to storage,” Van Moere said. “Our IBM systems were quickly reaching end of support so we needed to make a fast decision. None of the other storage vendors were able to provide the technical performance and management simplicity that comes with the Nimble platform, so we made the decision to try out the  Nimble arrays.”

Running the POC
“We ran a proof of concept on the Nimble systems because we wanted to make sure the promises the marketing people were making were really true,” Van Moere admitted. “The Nimble approach looked so simple that it was simply hard to believe all of the performance and manageability statistics at the beginning. Configuring our Nimble Storage Fibre channelattached array was very simple. It actually took longer to mount the array in our data centre rack than to configure the system. Within minutes, we were ready to start migrating over our production SAP, Siebel, and Microsoft Exchange systems.” Niko Group’s IT team were able to migrate all of the company’s production systems over to the Nimble Storage array in just one day. “We have never performed such a simple integration,” Van Moere said. “We started at 10 o’clock, and by 3 o’clock in the afternoon we were already running our production systems on Nimble. With other vendors, it would always take at least one week before we could even start to migrate our data to the new systems. And to our surprise, the Nimble array worked even better than the marketing people told us it would.”

Easier Management and Better Visibility
“We really love Nimble’s cloud interface,” Van Moere said. “InfoSight provides easy access to all of the long-term trending and performance indicators we need. It gives us the level of visibility we were looking for but didn’t have with IBM systems. Our team can easily dig into detailed information, even on a  per-VM system. We can even see the performance of one VMware server running on the platform. The real time graphs with Nimble enable us to make intelligent choices.”

Non-Disruptive Upgrades
The Nimble platform also enables the Niko Group to perform non-disruptive upgrades. “We can now perform upgrades when we need to, even during production hours,” Van Moere said. “We don’t need to schedule any downtime, it all works without interrupting our business, which of course is the most important thing we have to take care of.”

Simple Configuration
“Nimble is all about simplicity,” Van Moere said. “If you need a volume that’s 2TB, you can just click on a button and it takes three seconds. You start the server, and that’s it. You don’t have to figure out how to configure RAID levels and all of the other fine-tuning you have to do with other storage systems, you just create the volume and it’s ready to go. I’m not interested in figuring out which RAID group is providing the highest performance. Nimble does all of that in the background for us.”

Better Performance
“It was hard to tell how many IOPS we were getting on the old systems, but we did see a huge reduction in backup times when we migrated to Nimble. Full backups of our SQL environment are 40% faster on Nimble, compared to the IBM systems. Veeam backups with Nimble infrastructure of SAP went from almost 3h to 2h,” said Van Moere. “With Nimble, you don’t need all of those spindles, it has a great technical algorithm that does all of the magic on its own. It’s the first time we have been able to experience such a nice product that stands on its own. It’s not like other storage platforms, where you have to build the solution with blocks to reach the same functionality, the same support, and the same manageability. With Nimble, everything is already integrated into one great product.”

Great Support
Van Moere was also impressed with Nimble Support. “When Nimble detects an issue, they call us by phone and ask what is going on,” he reported. “We were implementing a few new network switches a few weekends ago, and one of the new switches was flowing too much heated air in front of the Nimble. So Nimble Support called and asked if there was something wrong, since they could see that our data centre temperature had increased by 5 degrees. Nimble Support was even faster than the temperature sensor in our data centre!”

  • Posted on 17/08/2017

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