SolidFire broadens channel opportunities with new offerings

A new software solution for commodity hardware is aimed at service providers, and won’t be much of a reseller play, but gives SolidFire the distinction of being able to sell the exact same solution as an appliance, infrastructure, as a service, and now software.

Jay Prassl, Solidfire

Jay Prassl, SolidFire’s Vice President of Marketing

SolidFire, which makes all-flash, scale-out storage solutions for the service provider and large enterprise markets, has unveiled a new software solution for commodity hardware which expands the ways it sells its solution. They are also introducing new product, and a new SolidFire FlashForward program, with guarantees which are designed to make it easier for partners selling SolidFire in the enterprise to close sales.

SolidFire started out selling direct to service providers, and soon added a channel, principally to serve the enterprise space. They doubled their service provider business in 2014, but at the same time also saw a 570 per cent year-over-year increase in their enterprise business.

“The enterprise business has passed the service provider business in terms of quantity,” said Jay Prassl, SolidFire’s Vice President of Marketing. “We have also seen our Cloud Builder partner channel grow from nine to 110 partners worldwide over the last year. Over 60 per cent of our total bookings are driven through the channel now, up from 9 per cent a year ago.” Prassl indicated that the channel had been grown in a very targeted way, and that partners fit into a specialization defined by one of SolidFire’s four certifications: virtualization, OpenStack, agile infrastructure, and master cloud builder.

These Cloud Builder partners will be the primary beneficiaries of the new SolidFire FlashForward program.

“With the FlashForward program, SolidFire is delivering two very specific guarantees,” Prassl said. “The first is a Platform Compatibility Guarantee which guarantees both hardware and software compatibility for all systems with a support contract.

“Any new SolidFire storage node is guaranteed to work with existing clusters that are under a current support contract,”Prassl added. “Flash technology is changing so fast it soon becomes obsolete, so as new flash nodes come onto the market, we guarantee they will be compatible with what you buy today, something that is possible only in a scale-out environment. The result is that a SolidFire storage environment never becomes obsolete because of mixed node capability.”

Prassl said that customers had asked for this guarantee, and its presence means that SolidFire resellers will be able to have a very different conversation with customers.

The second part of FlashForward is an Unlimited Drive Wear Guarantee. Drives within every SolidFire platform are guaranteed against wear without use-case or workload restriction for any system under an active support contract.

“This arms resellers with the right technology to solve the problem and the right support,”Prassl said.

The technology has also been reinforced by the introduction of the SF9605 node, which replaces the current SF6010 on SolidFire’s line card, and will be available on March 9. Each node has 34.5 TB effective capacity and 50,000 predictable IOPS, and the SF9605 becomes the third largest of the four available nodes. Like the others, it offers Guaranteed Quality of Service, in-line data reduction, complete system automation and scale-out platform design. SolidFire’s arrays are built by knitting these nodes into a cluster, starting with as few as four, and linking up to 100.

“We can go up to 3.4 PB of capacity, and no other flash or spinning disk technology can do that,” Prassl said. “The very large clusters are used by large-scale cloud providers that want to manage just one large thing.”

SolidFire also announced the Element X Program, which is aimed at very large enterprise and service providers, and is designed to allow these customers to consumer SolidFire technology in a software-only form.

“It is targeted at large hyperscale customers who would prefer simply to put software on commodity hardware that is already in place,” Prassl said. “We have qualified two hardware platforms, the Dell PowerEdge R620 and Cisco’s UCS C-Series Rack-Mount server. We will also work with a customer through the program if they have another hardware platform they would like certified.”

The addition of the software option through Element X is designed to provide another choice by which SolidFire technology can be bought.

“They can now consume is four ways,” Prassl said. “One is as a service, through our Fueled by SolidFire program. Service providers aren’t just a customer for us, they are also a channel.” This is also how smaller companies acquire SolidFire technology.

“Our Cloud Builder reseller partners typically sell us in two ways, as converged infrastructure, or as an appliance,” Prassl said. “They have two ways they can go to market with us.

“Only SolidFire can deliver the same platform with all the functionality across all the entire spectrum, so you have the experience regardless of how you consume it, and this is something that no one else in the industry can do,” Prassl said. “Resellers gain great benefit from this, because it enables them to deliver predictable, guaranteed storage performance on demand.”