The Silicon Review
All the products come in compact form factors and are priced aggressively to the extent that establishes Nfina as a price-leader in terms of storage products: Warren Nicholson
Data storage needs – particularly storage appliances and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure defined data storage requirements – are growing rapidly. Traditional systems that package storage controllers, disks, interfaces and firmware as proprietary storage arrays are often expensive, complex and lack openness. To combat traditional storage issues and to help companies grow their data footprints without breaking the bank, the industry and its customers have turned to commodity servers and storage hardware.
Nfina Technologies develops, manufactures, and markets highly reliable server and data storage products, designed to solve the most demanding data center requirements and mission-critical applications. Nfina helps companies accomodate their growing data demands by providing innovative server and storage solutions, eliminating the need for IT Managers to try to “roll their own”. The company was incorporated in 2012 and is headquartered in Mobile, Alabama.
Warren Nicholson, Nfina Technologies Founder/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?
Nfina Technologies was set up six years ago, armed with decades of technology experience creating rugged, highly secure and reliabile networking equipment and a desire to bring that quality and performance to the mainstream data storage market.
The company during its initial years provided cloud-based services such as cloud hosting and building private clouds. The customers weren’t just happy; they were delighted when they found the solutions and services much faster than other providers.
“Our hybrid storage model, but more importantly our caching technology was much ahead in its game which made our systems faster.”
Today the company is a market recognized server and storage solutions provider with a diversified portfolio that ranges from thin clients costing a few hundred dollars to storage solutions that can cost up to half a million dollars.
Tell us about your products and services.
Nfina offers four open off-the-shelf SAN products, the 700 and 7000 series (24 bay, 3.5-inch drive unit) and the 800 and 8000 series (48 bay, 2.5-inch drive unit). All the models can plug-&-play with their storage expansion product called JBOD which is a 12 bay, 3.5-inch unit. Each unit can provide up to 12 GB/s SAS connectivity and up to 96 TB of storage, and can be daisy-chained up to, approximately, 128 units
“We also have the NAS line-up. For both lines, we can do pure flash, SSD, NVMe, spinners, and any combination in between.”
The company also provides servers (both racks and towers), workstations, PCs, and Hypervisors, all of which compete at the high-end and can be constructed with all flavors of Linux, or Windows. Nfina’s bare metal solutions are certified on Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Stratus ever Run hypervisors. All of Nfina’s products come in compact form factors with respective certifications from VMware (6.0 and 6.5) and Microsoft (Storage Spaces and Storage Spaces Direct) and are priced aggressively to the extent that establishes Nfina as a price-leader in terms of storage products.
What makes your business stand out in a crowd of competitors?
While the technology in play is similar to what many other vendor offer, there are five points that answer why someone should consider Nfina.
– Nfina products include only the essential required applications and the OS, making them free from any additional software, such as bloatware, spyware, or adware. Nfina Servers and Storage Solutions are the most Cyber Secure offering receiving Homeland Security Vulnerabilities highest score of zero.
– Storage products plug-and-play with multiple leading platforms such as Windows, Linux and VMware. This software openness makes installing Nfina’s storage products into an existing system a simple job requiring just a few minutes, and an open-systems approach evades one-vendor solutions lock-in.
– Best described by the expression ‘have it your way.’ Nfina provides Hyper-converged solutions powered by vSAN or leverage its partnership with Open-E’s JovianDSS to create a Hyper-converged environment for storage on VMware or Windows Hyper-V. It also offers appliances for SAN and NAS solutions that are Linux-based solutions. Our hardware is very open and virtually software agnostic.
– The firm’s products have recorded MTBF in excess of two million hours which make them some of the most reliable enterprise storage equipment in the market.
– Exceptional reliability comes along with a market-leading five-year warranty that contrasts the current market standard three-year warranty. In addition to the five-year warranty, customers can also opt for “four-hour next day response or same day response.” Simply stated, a better warranty provides customers with a lower total cost of ownership.
Nfina has a “made in the USA” philosophy. The firm doesn’t outsource assembling but builds every product it ships, as per customers’ desired software and hardware configurations at its Mobile (Alabama) facility. Upon arrival, every component undergoes rigorous quality checks, and every detail is logged to ensure that any problem in the future can be quickly and accurately resolved. Tech support and customer service are also located in Mobile.
About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this high volatile market?
To stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs, Nfina has been developing software for its NAS portfolio along with a complementary hardware design. This Linux-based NAS solution is expected to hit the market in 2018. Our sustained passion for innovation is a primary ingredient for the company growth rate of approximately 400 percent annually. In partnership with a local University, Nfina has been co-developing client-server monitoring software for storage and networking equipment for the last two years with plans to start beta-testing in 2018. This software will have predictive capabilities, an open architecture which will allow users to import third-party SNMP MIBs, and will be scalable to monitor mini data centers and larger cloud-based deployments alike.
With the volume of data bound to explode in the coming years, storage requirements of the world will grow exponentially. And, Nfina appears to be all set to serve the purpose.
What are the business IT challenges?
Market confusion. Many Big Box Vendors are pre-conditioning buyers to accept things that are far less than optimal in today’s compute and storage environments. These increased costs and risks are not what customers want or need. Their marketing and stories try to sway customers into accepting:
The truth is, customers do not have to accept this. Nfina’s products:
Warren Nicholson: A Brief Background
Warren Nicholson, founder, is the Chief Executive Officer of Nfina Technologies. Prior to Nfina, he was a founder, president, and CEO of N-Tron Corp. in Mobile, Alabama. N-Tron designs, manufactures, and markets high-performance industrial network switches. From its founding in 1999, N-Tron grew to become a recognized leader in Industrial Ethernet products. N-Tron Corp. was sold to Spectris LLC (a publicly traded FTSE company) in 2010.
Before establishing N-Tron, Warren was CTO for RTP Corporation in Florida, an international company that designs, manufacturers and markets data acquisition and control systems for industrial and nuclear power plants.
Mr. Nicholson holds an MSEE degree from the University of South Alabama. He currently serves on the University of South Alabama Industrial Advisory Board and recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from that institution.