VAST Data pledges lower customer costs, more cloud-like experience with shift to Gemini managed software model

VAST still sells its technology through an appliance model, but now the customer purchases it directly from Avnet, which makes the hardware, giving the customer direct from the manufacturer pricing, although VAST says their channel strategy will not be impacted by this.

Universal storage unicorn VAST Data has announced a radical shift in how it brings its technology market. While VAST customers had previously been purchasing the VAST software together with an appliance made by Avnet through VAST, the Gemini model disaggregates the hardware from the software, so that VAST’s managed software will now be purchased on the Avnet hardware from Avnet. This cuts the cost by having the customer purchase the hardware directly from the manufacturer, and lets VAST align itself into the efficiencies of a software business, while still letting customers purchase the convenience of an appliance.

“We made this decision based on feedback from customers,” said Daniel Bounds, Vice President of Marketing at VAST Data. “Nine times out of ten, part of the conversation would be about interaction with the cloud, and customers asked how we could be more like a cloud. Gemini was the answer.”

The Gemini disaggregated commercial model provides new efficiencies by removing the burden from VAST of running a hardware business.

“It also fits with the way that we deploy Universal Storage,” Bounds said. “Getting out of hardware means we can do things differently. The asymmetric architecture of Universal Storage encourages extending Gemini software subscriptions across multiple generations into an exabyte-scale storage cluster. That’s basically the same, Bounds said, as modern cloud infrastructure.

“It gets customers out of the old transitional legacy cycle of having hardware and software cycles together,” he emphasized. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Apart from making VAST more efficient by allowing them to focus solely on the software, the Gemini model will also save the customers money by taking VAST out of the hardware route to market, thus removing their hardware margin from the equation.

“Avnet still makes the hardware, so we have all the advantages there that we had before,” Bounds said. “However, instead of paying a hardware markup to VAST, the customer goes directly to the manufacturer for hardware. Buying from Avnet from a procurement perspective lowers the overall cost of the hardware. The customer purchases from Avnet with a single Purchase Order, and Avnet passes the Purchase Order for the software over to us.” VAST also says that their 100% channel strategy will not be impacted by the shift to Avnet as the actual point of purchase.

With Gemini, VAST is also introducing the VAST Co-Pilot.

“We wanted to make it more like a managed service on premise,” Bounds said. “Our deals are larger deals. The average customer spends a million dollars and buys three times after the initial purchase. As you buy storage through this new model, you get a dedicated Level 3 engineer – for every account – and a call home feature.

The Co-Pilot is the Level 3 engineer assigned to the customer, who constantly monitors their systems, prioritizes their feature requests, and handles all of the planning and deploying as the customer expands their Universal Storage.

Gemini also allows for significant flexibility in the software licensing.

“With our licensing scheme, you can license as little as 100 TB or as much as 600 TB – a full enclosure,” Bounds said. “This allows buying in at a lower price point. A subscription tends to be OPEX, but if it’s licensed for more than 3 years, it can be CAPEX as well. There are now more levers than before, some of which are attractive to particular customers.”

While Bounds said that the present model is the one VAST will be using for a while, having the option of putting their offering in a public cloud is being considered.

“It’s a road map item for us,” he said. “We have the capacity to snapshot to the public cloud now. The cloud will be a future conversation with us.”