Scale-out NAS vendor Rozo Systems aims to scale up its channel with first partner program

Rozo Systems, which has been based mainly in the media and entertainment vertical, sells entirely through a select partner channel. They are now looking to augment that channel, and to that end, have introduced their first partner program.

Michel Courtoy, Rozo Systems’ COO

Rozo Systems, a San Mateo CA-based maker of software-defined scale-out NAS solutions with a French pedigree, is looking to expand their select roster of channel partners, which is principally regional integrators. They have unveiled their first-ever partner program as part of that recruitment effort.

“We claim to be the leaders in delivering high-performance scale-out NAS as a software defined solution,” said Michel Courtoy, Rozo Systems’ Chief Operating Officer. Rozo competes in the segment pioneered by Isilon, now part of Dell EMC, and where other startups like Qumulo also play. Rozo Systems is distinct, however, in the nature of their technology, which comes out of a patented erasure coding technology developed by their CEO, Pierre Evenou.

“Pierre was working at a French university, the Université de Nantes, on erasure code and its application to data storage,” Courtoy said. “Existing erasure code like Reed-Solomon was very compute-intensive, which is why it is mainly deployed in object storage. Pierre and his team developed new code that only required arithmetic operations, which made it much more efficient. They realized that they could apply this to distributed storage and get a performance benefit – whereas traditionally, erasure code imposed a penalty on performance.”

That erasure coding algorithm, which Rozo Systems has patented as the Mojette Transform, became the foundation of the company.

“The company spun out of the university in 2010, and it took about four years to build a file system to apply it, which is always a long and complex process,” Courtoy said. “In 2014, we began selling it locally, to French research and science organizations, and quickly demonstrated that it was super-fast, scalable and portable.”

Rozo’s software runs on any x86 commodity servers that are powered by Linux, and can be deployed in public, private or hybrid clouds. Its’ asymmetric architecture allows the metadata to be deployed on separate servers, making it easy to scale components independently. More file systems can be added by adding more metadata servers, while additional capacity can be generated by adding more NAS heads.

“Because we are very high performance, the network is important,” Courtoy indicated. “We only use Ethernet, not Fibre Channel, and like 50 or 100 GbE to connect.”

In 2015, based on the promise of the early results in France, Rozo decided to set up shop in the U.S., and Evenou moved to San Mateo.

“We started by targeting the media and entertainment market,” Courtoy said. “Its 4K and 8K workflows require the kind of high performance solutions that we provide. It is also a very project-driven market, which is good for new entries like us to get a foothold. We have built a nice portfolio of customer success stories in M&E, mainly among the post-production houses, and are now working on a big 10 PB project with a major studio. We compete a lot with Isilon, which also has a nice footprint in the movie industry, but we can do 3x their performance at a fraction of the cost.”

Rozo Systems sells entirely through channel partners, with their channel today being small, and highly focused on southern California and the entertainment industry.

“We have very much a value-focus when it comes to partners, and for us, system integrators provide the most value,” Courtoy indicated. “We are engaged today with about a half-dozen partners, most of whom would be classified as regional integrators. We want to grow to include the national guys, but we know that getting there is a process, which requires raising awareness of our solution among them.”

Courtoy said that system integrators have the best skillset to build Rozo’s software into highly customized solutions.

“The key for us is system integrators who understand specific customer challenges and are able to architect us into a custom solution,” he stated. “With our software-defined solution, you aren’t limited to a few appliances sitting on the shelf. You can look at whole catalogue of any vendor, and plug in all the right hardware and complementary tools, to meet the customer challenge at the most effective price point.”

This is Rozo’s first channel program, formalizing things that they had done in an ad hoc manner before, and they are looking to use its visibility to add quality new partners.

“It’s predominantly about recruiting,” Courtoy said. “Our relationship with our existing partners is already very deep. I need more partners though, to get more feet on the street.”

Rozo, which began in the science area, has been adding some customers in that space, particularly in genomics, to go along with the M&E base.

“We are acquiring some interesting entries there,” Courtoy stated. “We have one customer in San Diego and another [IRCCS Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri based in Milan, Italy] in Europe. We have also signed a contract with the National Solar Observatory in Tucson.” EDA [Electronic Design Automation] is another area which looks promising for them.

The partner program provides a structure for joint marketing and selling with the Rozo channel team, including joint PR, collateral, webinars, and lead-generation programs.

“We are in the process of implementing deal registration as well,” Courtoy said. “While we do not have a lot of partners, in M&E we have 4-5 partners in L.A. who are likely to go after the same deals.”

The program also offers technical pre-sales support, and both Web-based and onsite sales training, including in-depth technical sessions. Partners are also provided with periodic product and technology roadmap updates.