Scality adds VM storage capabilities to software-based, software-defined storage

Scality began by selling direct, but is evolving this year to a two-tier model, which they see as the key to their future.


Leo Leung, Scality’s ‎Vice President of Corporate Marketing

Today at VMworld 2014, Scality is introducing version 5.0 of its RING software for software-defined storage. While the software is improved generally, with Scality touting it as 95 per cent faster than last year’s edition for file operations and random IO, the big news with this release is that it now supports VM storage capabilities.

Scality is somewhat unusual in that they are a startup with a 5.0 release of their core product.

“The company has been around since 2009, and has an unorthodox approach to building storage,” said Leo Leung, Scality’s ‎Vice President of Corporate Marketing. “The founders have expertise from other domains, including software, and telecom hosting.”

Leung also said that Scality has benefited from a changing market, in which customers look at software solutions, and buy their software independently from hardware.

“The cloud players have driven this change,” he said. The result is a market where Scality has scored some huge wins, including Comcast and DailyMotion, the latter of which is a French-based rival to YouTube.

Scality’s software is aimed at large enterprises and service providers. While they have customers like Los Alamos National Labs – which has a 500 PB target – they scale down into companies in the hundreds of terabytes, notably in media and entertainment. Because RING is multi-tenant, multi-application, and multi-workload, it is well suited to the service provider market. It supports file, object, and block protocols in a single storage pool, including persistent block VM storage.

Scality RING 5.0 performance matches Amazon EBS at 200 IOPS per VM, with bursting capabilities of 3,000 IOPS per VM, and scales out linearly to hundreds of thousands of VMs. Running at the application layer, it offers unified storage for VM data and massive amounts of application data, for as much as 10X lower cost per terabyte.

“We have many customers in Europe, and are now fully vested in the U.S. – most of our revenue comes from there – and we just opened in Japan.” Leung said.

Leung also stressed that while they are still in the startup stage, in the space in which they play, they are one of the most experienced vendors.

“The number of vendors who have been around even as long as us is very few,” he said. “Our product is quite battle hardened. Even if we were to be acquired, our product stands for itself. It’s very mature and proven and would become a standing product line for the acquirer.”

Scality started out as an object storage provider, and subsequently added file (POSIX) services.

“This year, we are introducing the ability to support VM storage,” Leung said. “Our goal is to support 80% of workload types, and extend it to more and more workloads. There is a place for someone else to take much more of the data at a price point that people want.”

The 20% that Scality isn’t chasing is what Leung called the ‘flash market’ — the super high IO types of applications.

The other major part of Scality’s announcement was improving automation of deployment, installation, and management with support of standard DevOps tools and a redesigned GUI. This includes support of OpenStack Cinder to programmatically provision Scality VM storage.

“We are a strong believer in OpenStack,” Leung said. “It will be a key framework for enterprises to build their own cloud-like environment. So it’s important to automate the way we deploy install and expand the system both through tools like OpenStack, as well as our own interface.”

Like most software vendors focused on the large enterprise market, Scality started selling direct.

“We started with a direct model, and our focus was to get big customers up and running and happy,” Leung said. “What we are evolving to this year is a two-tier model, in which we either work through VARs of our own or indirectly through large vendors we work with. We work with Dell, HP, Cisco – pretty much every major server vendor out there – and can sometimes be sold through their distribution model.”

Formalization of the channel strategy is underway, Leung said.

“We are very focused on leveraging a tier two type of model,” he said. “That’s how we will reach the world.”