What effectively is a relaunch for the company, and is timed with the new release of their software, delivers on the vision and strategy that has been put in place by the new management team that came in last year.
A little over a year ago, software-defined storage vendor DataCore announced a major reshuffle of their senior leadership team. Dave Zabrowski and Gerardo Dada were brought in as CEO and CMO respectively to pursue a more aggressive growth strategy, with co-founder and longtime CEO George Teixeira moving to the Chairman of the Board role. Today, the company is announcing a series of measures designed to highlight its vision of software-defined storage, and how it intends to make DataCore a dominant player in the space. New elements of this strategy include a new hyperconverged infrastructure [HCI] appliance, a new cloud-based analytics service, and subscription-based licensing, as well as the new version of their software.
“The new leadership wanted to take our intellectual property and expertise and use it to make DataCore an agility company,” Dada said. “With 220 employees and 800 partners, we have the necessary size to be able to scale, but at the same time, we are still small enough to be agile.
“We are proud of our past but looking to the future,” Dada added. “We are profitable, stable and well funded. About 70 per cent of the director-level people are new in the last year and a half. This is the new launch.”
That launch, Dada said, consists of four things – their vision for the future, the new, flexible hyper-converged appliance, DataCore Insight Services [DIS], which is the new cloud-based analytics service, and the subscription-based pricing option. Tying it altogether is what Dada described as a recommitment to the channel.
“Our DataCore ONE vision reflects the fact that storage is still stuck in a hardware-centric mode,” he stated. “Software-defined storage is now at the point of maturity where it should be at the tipping point like VMware, and remakes storage. Since software-defined storage abstracts everything, you can have a smart layer that abstracts and presents it using bare metal, virtualized hosts, and containerized applications.”
The new release of their SANSymphony SSP 9 software is designed to deliver this.
“The types of services it offers are available elsewhere, but the way we do it is to make it consistent across all systems,” Dada said. “DataCore takes the place of encryption and migration, in a ‘do once and done’ model.
The new software release redesigns the user interface and adds new automation capabilities to reduce manual tasks. New encryption-at-rest technology facilitates military-grade XTS-AES 256-bit encryption, and the disaster recovery capabilities have been improved.
“We are enhancing our cloud capabilities so that it is now free to create a third asynchronous replica in the cloud,” Dada added.
The new HCI-Flex appliance is a new concept for DataCore.
“Our goal with the appliance is to be able to offer customers choice,” Dada said “In the past, we have said ‘go buy any x86 you want’, and have also built reference architectures for years, and some partners love that.”
For the last two years, DataCore has also partnered with Lenovo to make their software available in Lenovo hardware in a turnkey appliance. Lenovo partners who sell this are unlikely to be interested in the new appliance offering, because it is built on Dell hardware.
“The Lenovo partner community will have a natural affinity for their own appliance,” said Augie Gonzalez, Director of Product Marketing at DataCore. “The HCI-Flex appliance is aimed at our partners who don’t have such an alignment, where DataCore is the single source of support. It’s a completely different set of partners.”
The HCI-Flex appliance is available in multiple 1U and 2U configurations with either VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V pre-installed. Dada said that while these are smaller and aimed at edge and ROBO environments, they aren’t low-cost devices.
“Our intent is not to go for the lowest end of the market,” Dada said. “It’s more high performance, because we are known for performance. We work with one of Dell’s top partners to build the appliance.”
The new DataCore Insight Services use machine learning and AI intelligence to detect current or foreseeable anomalies in the data storage infrastructure, while the built-in recommendation engine directs designated individuals to the most appropriate corrective actions.
“Companies and partners struggle with finding people who can monitor this broadly to provide best practices and insights,” Dada said “We have a user interface in the cloud linked with the local to provide seamless management. We had the local capability of providing telemetry data before, but it didn’t work with a cloud-based service like the new platform does. That meant that before, DataCore instances had no visibility outside their own site. Now, we can pattern match against things we have seen elsewhere.”
Tier One storage vendors typically provide this capability already – on their own offerings. The issue for companies with more than one vendor is providing all of this in a single pane of glass.
“What’s different about us here will be our ability to scan divergent storage systems,” Gonzalez said. “HPE, for example. looks at what they bring to the party and they instrument that. We sit as a player across the entire span and give that overall view. That is unique to us, and will provide a uniform way to act – not one view from HPE and one view from Pure. We converge those views in our cloud-based analytics platform.”
That capability isn’t there today, but Dada said it’s only a few months off.
“Today we don’t have this, but we plan to in next few months,” he said. “It will give partners an overall view of all systems being managed with a unified dashboard, both for MSP and traditional solution providers.”
“This will also not require a high level of training,” Gonzalez added. “It’s something that more junior people can handle.”
Finally, while the subscription licensing offering is new to DataCore, Dada said that it reflects the trends in the industry.
“Starting now, customers have the choice of perpetual or term licenses,” he said. “The DIS is only in the subscription licenses, however, at no additional cost.”
For cloud service provider partners, there is consumption-based metering, but it’s not being sold to customers broadly on a consumption-based model.
“Customers have told us they want more predictability and that means fixed capacity pricing,” Dada said. “That’s also more channel friendly.”
Pricing includes both support and software updates. All licenses are based on capacity with a simple price per TB irrespective of the number of nodes used.
“It’s a very simple model, with the price per TB, and there’s no nickel and diming for additional features like High Availability and mirroring,” Dada noted. Three license formats are available: enterprise; standard (without the encryption); and LS [large secondary], with the latter being for low-cost use cases which are not performance-intensive.