Cisco, SwiftStack collaborate on turnkey object storage enterprise cloud solution

A new reseller agreement between the companies will see this integration of Cisco Metapod with SwiftStack 4.0 software become available to the Cisco channel.

Mario Blandini SwiftStack

Mario Blandini, VP of Product Marketing at SwiftStack

Today at Cisco Live!, San Francisco-based object storage vendor SwiftStack has announced both a new reseller relationship with Cisco, and the availability of a turnkey enterprise cloud solution for Cisco partners to resell.

Swiftstack began operations in 2011, building a commercial product around OpenStack Swift. They were closely aligned with Cisco early on, and in February joined the Cisco Solution Partner Program as a Preferred Solution Partner.

The integration combines the SwiftStack 4.0 with the Cisco Metapod OpenStack private cloud solution. It can be delivered either as a Cisco-managed service with Cisco Metapod or self-managed.

Cisco is a logical partner for SwiftStack because these days they are a server vendor that doesn’t sell storage – while SwiftStack is an object storage vendor whose technology stores data on servers, not in traditional storage. They thus can turn Cisco UCS Servers into the equivalent of an Amazon storage cloud.

“We are an app that runs on servers, not on storage,” said Mario Blandini, VP of Product Marketing at SwiftStack. “The Cisco UCS C3260, a very high density server, is well suited for delivering a storage applications like SwiftStack. Because Cisco does not sell storage, they rely on partners to provide this.”

Blandini said this joint solution fills a real void for Cisco.

“Prior to this, they had Metapod, which is analogous to AWS EC2,” he said. “But they didn’t have the S3 part, and that’s what this provides. It also makes things easier because they don’t have to integrate with third party storage. It’s all Cisco UCS and all Cisco part numbers.”

Blandini also said that this Cisco partnership is a great fit for SwiftStack.

“This is our first large system vendor partnership of this kind,” he said. “While Cisco is not number one in servers, their share is concentrated among the type of enterprise customers that benefit most from object storage – those with at least 300-500 TB of storage.”

Blandini said that while SwiftStack believes that object storage will eventually become dominant, at this point in time, it’s still a high end product.

“Object storage isn’t great for every scenario today,” he said. “It’s for when scale gets larger. We believe that because of the massive growth of volumes of storage, in a couple years, a lot more people will be using it. But for now it’s for enterprise customers looking to cut archiving costs and enable new apps. Today, it’s not really to replace storage for existing applications.”

Tomorrow could well be another day, however.

“Object storage was niche when it first started out because very few applications spoke Object API, so very few could access it,” Blandini stated. “Today, object storage’s front end supports file, which makes it much easier to adopt. It’s possible that network attached storage will no longer exist when object storage has all the same interfaces on the front end.”

Until that happens, Blandini said that while this new reseller relationship is important today, it is likely to be more important a couple years from now.

“Object storage right now is still only beneficial to the largest enterprises,” he said. “Of course you still have a variation of the 80-20 rule here – that the 20 per cent who can use it store 80 per cent of all data.”

Blandini indicated that these same factors will make the new appliance more attractive to Cisco partners who serve larger customers.

“It is on the global price list for the channel,” he said. “While it is available to all, this won’t appeal to every partner. It will, however, appeal to the big ones who tend to have the customers who would want it.”