Zadara introduces NVMe-as-a-Service to hybrid cloud storage service

The new NVMe capability is priced 25 per cent under Zadara’s standard flash storage, and customers’ ability to upgrade on-demand for free will let them both increase performance and reduce costs.

Greg Newman, Zadara’s VP of Marketing

Enterprise storage-as-a-service provider Zadara has launched what it believes to be a first in the storage space with the addition of NVMe to its hybrid cloud storage service. In addition to making NVMe available on an OPEX rather than a CAPEX model, it also makes it available at approximately for 25 per cent less cost than current flash offerings.

“We haven’t found anyone else doing it, and we think we know why,” said Greg Newman, Zadara’s VP of Marketing. “Logically, NVMe will follow the natural cycle of technology of running anything as a service. The issue here is that the benefits of NVMe may not be realized if other issues like latency impact things, so there’s no point of introducing it as a service if you don’t get full benefit. Our stack lets us provide that. Our engineers helped us figure out how to deliver it.”

NVMe has been seen as the tonic that on-prem storage has needed for years to complete against the cloud, with its faster data access, reduced power consumption and lower latency compared with traditional flash.  Newman noted that early adopter use of their service has found that customers do tend to use it in the on-prem part of their hybrid environment.

“People do think of NVMe as something likely to run on-prem, but half our business is on prem, and our NVMe orders are mainly for the on-prem part of customer environments,” he said.

Newman also stressed not only that the NVMe-as-a-service is 25 per cent less than their existing flash offerings, but that customers are able to swap it out without penalty and get both better performance and the lower price.

“We do upgrades on demand,” he said. “Our new NVMe is exciting to a lot of people and it’s 25 per cent cheaper. So our customers swap out for better technology – and they pay 25 per cent less. We take a hit for that in the short term, but our customers grow at a pretty healthy clip. It’s a winning bet over time.”

Newman said that this capability is a differentiator for them against one of their competitor types – larger vendors who have added an as-a-service capability.

“Intel says we are the most widely deployed software-defined storage in the world, and we are a lot bigger than people realize,” Newman said. “We haven’t done a good job marketing ourselves. But we are still a pipsqueak compared to the legacy storage providers, and these have now come into our space in a big way with offerings like HPE GreenLake and Pure Evergreen. They all have limitations in the fact that their operating models come from the past.”

Newman said that HPE’s as-a-service model in particular has limitations that Zadara does not.

“HPE Storage-as-a-Service requires multiple boxes, and a three-year contract, and you can’t upgrade during the term because their financing owns the paper,” he stressed. “They have very good technology, but it’s not a good fit for storage as-a-service because that needs to be about flexibility.”

Zadara also has a co-opetition relationship with the big cloud  hyperscalers, who all offer similar services to their own.

“AWS is a ‘frenemy,’” Newman commented. “We extend what they offer, with  enterprise storage features, like  multi-zone HA, and remote cloning and snapshots. We have flexibility in a single system with block, file and object and other storage media. We give control of the enterprise together with the ability you expect from the cloud. It’s the same for Azure and GCP.”

Another set of competitors are startups, and Newman said that Zadara has an advantage there in being a little older and better established.

“No other startup can match our breadth and depth,” he stated. “We have almost 130 people now on 6 continents, with all the engineering based in Israel.

Zadara also does well with customers, notably in government, who want cloud capabilities and presence, but still want some data kept out of the cloud.

“Storage is so horizontal, but we are very strong in government – federal state and local,” Newman said. “That includes the Bureau of Land Management, NASA, and some of the 3 letters. We aren’t a cloud service. Our customers are 100 per cent isolated from each other. Some customers want the drives they have been using, when they are done with them, and we can do that too. We are getting stronger in health care, particularly in radiology for object storage.”

About half of Zadara’s business is channel, with a higher percentage of the international business being channel than domestic.

“We have MSPs who are very good at integrating us as a branded offering or white label,” Newman indicated. “We are building that business out, and it is becoming more significant. Roland Serna joined us from VMware in March as Vice President of Channel Sales and Alliances, and has made a big impact in a short period of time. The channel audience won’t find a more complete enterprise as-a- service storage offering than Zadara.”

Ingram Micro Promark and Lifeboat handle their distribution.

“Partners get 10 points through them and 30 points total if the deal is registered,” Newman said. “We aren’t selling widgets. Enterprise storage needs a lot of discussion up front, so this 20-point incent ensures we get involved in the process early to make the partner successful.”

Newman joined Zadara as part of their Series B funding round last year.

“That was about growing our sales and marketing,” he said. “It was time to let the world know what we do. Service providers in particular need to know how our multi-tenanted system lets them run multiple clients on one storage stack at 90 per cent utilization. That’s really magnified in a service provider environment.”

While the NVMe addition is the headline element in the Zadara’s newly enhanced platform, some other improvements to the platform were also announced.

“We have made some improvements to our Object Store performance that are really noteworthy in terms of making it very efficient,” Newman said. “It used to be just a low-cost option and that’s not the case any more.”

Other new elements are remote clone functionality for improved data mobility between arrays and clouds and  across geographies, and a new more compact 2U alternative for smaller form factor environments compared to the regular 4U.

A built-in virus protection with embedded McAfee AV engine for on-file-access virus scans has also been enhanced.

“The partnership with McAfee is about a year old,” Newman said. “It was in our last release in a limited form, but is now baked in and embedded. The AV is more effective when the application actually runs inside the storage.”

Zadara’s enhanced storage service is available now.

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