Atlantis Computing enters hyperconverged market with low-cost, high performance appliance

Atlantis is adapting its high-performance USX software defined storage platform into a hyperconverged appliance that is easy to deploy and use, and is much less expensive than existing competitive offerings.


The Atlantis Hyperscale

Software-defined storage vendor Atlantis Computing is best known in the desktop virtualization space and for its Atlantis ILIO solution. Today, however, the company makes a major turn into the red-hot hyperconverged market, adapting its technology to produce Atlantis Hyperscale, a disruptive all-flash hyperconverged appliance that it says is significantly less expensive than the competition, and also gives the ability to choose both the server hardware and the hypervisor.

“This is really the first economically viable all-flash hyperconverged appliance, which we think will be disruptive in terms of both price and performance,” said Bob Davis, Atlantis’ VP of Marketing. “It will also be sold exclusively through our channel partners.”

Davis acknowledged that the broad perception of Atlantis as a VDI vendor may puzzle some people who see Atlantis Hyperscale, but emphasized that it is a natural evolution of their technology.

“We are a software-defined storage company, and in 2006 we built Atlantis ILIO, a storage virtualization layer in RAM, which made it very fast,” Davis said. “The concern then was the volatility of RAM, so we focused on VDI and became perceived as a VDI vendor, but that is what kept the lights on for years. Last year, we introduced Atlantis ILIO – USX, the next generation product, which brought us the ability to address data centre workloads – big data and cloud environments. USX could pool any kind of storage and serve up a storage environment that any application would be expecting to see.”

Almost all of Atlantis’ business goes through partners, even at the top of the pyramid, and while the partner reaction to USX was generally positive, there were a couple of caveats that ultimately led to the decision to create Atlantis Hyperscale.

“Feedback to USX was that the technology was awesome, and saves customers incredible amounts of money,” Davis said. “However, partners also said that while it was great for customers like large banks which can customize it, because it was really powerful, it would put strains on smaller organizations because the customer had to be trained and capable enough to take advantage of it. Our partner feedback was that it was too complicated as you moved downmarket, and as a result, they lost the business there to the hyperconverged vendors.”

The result was the decision to adapt USX into a hyperconverged product, which could leverage its advantages, including double the processing power of other hyperconverged products, but do so in a form factor that was much simpler to use.

“Atlantis Hyperscale is based on USX – it’s not a dumbed-down version,” Davis said. “It is rather a configured version, with the hardware configured to a 60 minute time to value. It is designed to go after smaller enterprises down to the 500 employee space.” Today it is available in two flavours, 12 and 24 TB.

The software is optimized for server hardware from four vendors — Cisco, HP, Lenovo and SuperMicro. Dell, which has both a relationship with Nutanix and an EVO:RAIL strategy, is the only obvious major outlier here.

“Cisco loyalists like Toronto’s Gibraltar Solutions, one of our partners, haven’t had a converged solution until now,” Davis said. “Now they can sell a Cisco appliance at 60 per cent of Nutanix’s cost.”

On the hypervisor side, Atlantis Hyperscale supports VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer today, with Microsoft Hyper-V on the road map.

Davis said that their price can be as low as a tenth of competitor products on all-flash solutions. He said that their CX-12-SM with the least expensive box, from SuperMicro, costs $USD 78,0000, compared to $USD 308,000 for the Nutanix NX-3461. The difference with higher cost products like VMware’s EVO:RAIL is even more pronounced, Davis said.

“Those numbers come from partner quotes, so they are the street price,” he pointed out.

The lower price results from a combination of factors.

“Since we have always worked in RAM, we use RAM as the performance tier – not the flash tier, which is more expensive and increases the latencies,” Davis said. “Our data services are more efficient as well, so we use a lot less hardware. We also aren’t OEMing the hardware, so there is zero markup there, and that helps with very high margin for partners as well.”

The products’ base price also includes support, which Atlantis provides.

“Support is critical, particularly us providing that single call,” Davis said. “That was huge to the partners.”

Davis said that they don’t have any upcoming vendor relationships like Nutanix’s branded relationship with Dell in place, but that if that does happen, it would more likely be a traditional OEM relationship.

“We are a software company, and we look at these relationships through the eyes of a software vendor,” he said. “We expect that as we become better known we will be approached by vendors to OEM us, and we would be more interested in a traditional relationship. That’s down the road, however.”