The approved compatibility with Cisco allows any Cisco UCS server to be turned into the equivalent of a private Amazon S3 storage cloud, which is well suited for IoT requirements. More specific partner-focused announcements relating to this partnership are also coming.
San Francisco-based object storage startup SwiftStack has joined the Cisco Solution Partner Program as a Preferred Solution Partner. While SwiftStack has already had a strong working relationship with Cisco, they anticipate the formalized relationship will expand customer choice, strengthen their presence in the Internet of Things (IoT) and subsequently lead to more specific channel partner opportunities.
Swiftstack, which started up in 2011, and has had no difficulties finding funding injections since then, has a very focused offering derived from the OpenStack Swift project.
“We took OpenStack Swift and built a commercial product around it,” said Mario Blandini, VP of Product Marketing at SwiftStack, who is Employee #11 in what is now a 50 person company. “We provide a customer with the ability to stand up a service like Amazon S3 inside their own data centre – so they have something that looks, smells and tastes like Amazon S3 behind their firewall, rather than in the public cloud. Other object storage vendors can do something similar, but we are software only and we operate on the same servers that channel partners already sell.”
SwiftStack terms itself an enterprise vendor, but it started out selling to carrier class customers.
“Historically, our biggest customers have been cloud providers and large SaaS providers, and then we added media and entertainment companies and life sciences companies,” Blandini said. “They have crazy storage requirements for things like genomics research or CGI. The enterprise is really the third wave for us, and they have been doing what they do with new technologies, picking easy use cases like backup to put us in. It’s not the size of the company itself that matters as much as the amount of data they process. We have one customer which is a company with four guys, but they consume more data than WalMart.”
Blandini said there is a perception that SwiftStack isn’t channel-friendly, and indeed, they are a storage company without pure play storage solution provider partners. He stated, however, that their go to market model IS channel-dependent.
“We are very compatible with the channel,” he said. “It’s just a different part of the channel. It’s not the storage channel, It’s the server channel. We only sell software, so customers buy us when they buy their servers, which they typically do from an SI or a VAR. So the natural alignment for our product is people who sell the servers, like Scalar in Canada.
“We ask a customer who they buy their servers from, and that becomes our channel,” Blandini continued. “Our channel isn’t the resellers who actually sell the storage.”
This also explains the significance of the Cisco partnership to SwiftStack.
“Cisco is a server vendor,” Blandini stated.
He also indicated that Cisco’s focus on the IoT fits nicely with SwiftStack’s capabilities.
“There is alignment there,” he said. “Because we are object storage, any sensors in a machine or anything that creates data, as long as they speak HTTP, they can write to SwiftStack storage, because we are cloud. Any server that Cisco sells to customers which uses sensors can run this software, so that while we ourselves aren’t involved with the sensors, within the datacentre you can turn Cisco UCS servers into an Amazon storage cloud. All the data gets stored on Cisco servers running our software.”
Being a Cisco Preferred Solution Partner means that SwiftStack has achieved Cisco compatibility certification on at least one solution. Blandini said that SwiftStack is the only vendor certified to run on Cisco hardware in this use case. In addition, SwiftStack has had a deep past working relationship with Cisco.
“They made two key OpenStack acquisitions – Metacloud and Piston Cloud – which are like Amazon EC2,” Blandini said. “They provide the compute but don’t provide the storage, so we were naturally involved in a lot of joint opportunities there because we do the storage.”
Blandini also indicated that while this is an important announcement in itself, more significant ones with Cisco relating specifically to partners are pending.
“This announcement is important because we now provide more choice for our customers, but this is also an announcement of a preferred solution partnership,” he said. “We will be having additional news soon which will be even more significant from a channel perspective.”