Avnet brings EMC Isilon to the masses with software-defined storage solution

Avnet broadens Isilon SD Edge’s route to market with an offering which puts the Isilon Edge OS on select validated commodity hardware.

John Tonthat - Avnet

John Tonthat, Director, Solutions Development of Avnet’s EMC business unit in the Americas

Distributor Avnet, fresh off the announcement of its win at EMC World as 2015 distribution partner of the year, announced a new joint offering with EMC available exclusively to its partners

The EMC software-defined storage solution features IsilonSD Edge, EMC’s scale out NAS version of Isilon designed specifically for edge applications. While an edge – and thus by definition a ROBO product – Isilon SD Edge as sold by EMC is associated primarily with larger customers and solutions like EMC’s Data Lake 2.0. Avnet sees this offering as much broader than that, however.

“It’s aimed at multiple thousands of Isilons already installed inside a data centre somewhere,” said John Tonthat, Director, Solutions Development of Avnet’s EMC business unit in the Americas. “The issue candidly though, is that as you look at Isilon at the edge, there is an evolution where this isn’t just for enterprise edge to core. It’s also for lowering the price band in such a way that small, medium and midmarket customers can use it on a software-defined basis.”

A major economy in price necessary for these markets is achieved by using white box server hardware, which Avnet has tested and validated as being able to properly run the Isilon OneFS operating system, in the IsilonSD Edge form factor.

“Pricing is what makes COTS [commercial off-the-shelf]-based solutions such a wonderful solution,” Tonthat said. “The challenge is there are a lot of testing requirements. Not all COTS servers are created equal. Each white box differs in terms of support and quality. EMC gave us a small list they wanted us to test and validate to make this a validated solution. So our validation comes out with high level quality and testing, to ensure end user experience is up to the standards EMC has set.”

Avnet partners can buy the solution as a full turnkey solution, or as variants where partners provide different levels of integration themselves.

“What makes us Avnet is we support our partners based on the level of integration they want to participate in,” Tonthat said. “There will be different variations of it depending on the partners’ preference.”

Avnet is also emphasizing the importance of their Capacity Now consumption-based payment model for paying for this solution, which they said is especially critical to partners because financial regulators in the U.S. recently nullified the use of leasing by customers buying on an OPEX model – a rule change most partners tend not even to be aware of.

Doug Sobieski - Avnet

Doug Sobieski, Financial Services Sales Executive, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas

“In November, Financial Accountings Standards Board made changes to guidelines about claiming an OPEX expense, which has taken away the traditional choice for customers between buying with CAPEX and leasing with OPEX,” said Doug Sobieski, Financial Services Sales Executive, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. “Avnet prepared for this with this new global initiative around lease accounting, which uses a true service-based model based on consumption. This change to lease accounting has made users look for an alternative to leasing.”

Capacity Now works by having the partner provide the customer with an OPEX solution as a managed service through a services contract. Avnet acts as the service provider. Customer payments are on a consumption basis so the user can align their payments with actual usage. The partner receives upfront revenue payment for the deal.

“What makes the solution really unique is how we deliver it to the marketplace with Capacity Now,” Tonthat said.

Eric Barnhart - Avnet

Eric Barnhart, Vice President of Avnet’s EMC solutions business unit in the Americas

Eric Barnhart, Vice President of Avnet’s EMC solutions business unit in the Americas, stressed that the way they are able to provide a unique new offering and route to market for Isilon here reflects their close collaboration with EMC over the last 15 years.

“Our being named Distribution Partner of the Year at EMC World reflects our close alignment with EMC go-to-market strategy around modernization of the data centre,” he said. “It’s pretty unique in the business, and it led us to a great first quarter on our EMC business.”