Toronto’s Breqwatr taking appliance to simplify private cloud deployments through the channel

The Toronto startup is going to market through the channel out of the gate, and unusually for a startup, has been picked up by a major distributor. Arrow is handling their North American distribution.

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John Kadianos, Breqwatr’s founder and CEO

Toronto-based Breqwatr has announced the 2.0 release of their Breqwatr Cloud Appliance, a turnkey offering which uses hyperconverged technology and OpenStack to provide customers with a simple and quick way to put together private clouds.

Breqwatr grew out of Hyper Technologies, a consultancy that John Kadianos started in 2008 that is razor-focused on deploying private cloud technology.

“We discovered early that the main problem of private cloud deployments was consumption, that the mechanism for provisioning their own environments was not very easy,” said Kadianos. “We created a portal so people could provision their own machines, but it was extremely labor-intensive – a four month project that used three different skillsets. We tried to figure out a faster way to do this and the idea of Breqwatr was born, where we just show up with an appliance that will do all the private cloud integration easily.”

Kadianos, who is now Breqwatr’s founder and CEO, said that for three years, Breqwatr was bootstrapped to Hyper Technologies while they did the design and development work for the appliance. Breqwatr became a separate company on May 1 of this year. The 1.0 product came out in August 2014, and now the 2.0 version is out.

“The interface is fully customizable to let you set up a private cloud in minutes, rather than weeks,” Kadianos said. While he indicated someone with no technical knowledge at all might find it a challenge to use, the technical knowledge required is minimal.

“If you don’t know the difference between Tier One and Two Tier storage, you will have some issues, but that’s not too demanding,” he said. “The user has the ability to customize defaults. The box comes configured with defaults we think are normal, and which matter when it comes to getting up and running quickly, but if you don’t like them, you can change them.”

The Breqwatr Cloud Appliance has a hyperconverged back end, although Kadianos said they aren’t focusing on that because customers don’t have access to it, and because they aren’t competing directly against the hyperconverged vendors.

The appliance is also powered by OpenStack, although Kadianos said that wasn’t much of an issue one way or the other to most customers.

“Even though the appliance is built on OpenStack, it’s not all about OpenStack,” Kadianos said. “Two of our customers don’t even know OpenStack is on it. It’s just a private cloud to them. All they care about is the compute. They don’t care about the technology underneath.”

Kadianos said that the appliance conforms to the requirements to be powered by OpenStack, such as their APIs being open and unadulterated.

“We have also done some things to make OpenStack more enterprise friendly,” he said. “A lot of distributions have OpenStack HA where instances restart surviving nodes in case of failure, in order to maintain uptime. That’s a starting part for enterprise private cloud.”

The market for the appliance is fairly broad.

“A year ago, our very first customer had two people in IT,” Kadianos said. “Since then, we have seen financial services and services companies buy it. Financial services is the real sweet spot, but anybody who needs clouds could use this, because it gives you the ability to provision clouds by yourself.”

Today, NetApp and SolidFire storage are supported – primarily because those are the systems in Breqwatr’s own labs – but support for more is coming.

“We are planning on adding support for different storage vendors on a quarterly basis, with EMC being the next one,” Kadianos said. “We run on other storage vendors. We just don’t have support for them yet.”

Finally, and very unusually for a startup, Breqwatr is going with the channel right out of the gate. Even more unusual is that they have a major distributor on board. Distributors are usually leery of startups, since carrying vendors costs them money, and they like to see evidence of a good market for a product or solution before they add it to their line card.

“We decided to embrace the channel from the outset,” Kadianos said. “We have channel partners already signed up in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] and are working on one in Ottawa and ones in New York. We believe the channel can not only make money on the product itself, but on professional services out of putting the product on the floor, like migrating existing environments to a Breqwatr.”

Arrow is their North American distributor.

“With distributors, it’s all about volume so being taken on at this stage is a major plus for us,” Kadianos said. “Howard Goldberg, Arrow’s president of North American enterprise computing solutions business, set this up. He’s a huge supporter of ours.”

Goldberg, of course, is well known in the Canadian channel as the former founder and CEO of distributor Skydata, which handled EMC’s business in Canada. Arrow acquired Skydata, and Goldberg, in 2006, and Goldberg has risen through the ranks there, being promoted to his present role a year ago.