Wasabi expects big push in Canada from opening of first Canadian data centre

Wasabi’s overall business has posted very strong growth over the last several years, but the lack of a Canadian data centre has created some data sovereignty issues that, until now, have limited their growth here.

David Friend, co-founder and CEO at Wasabi

Cloud storage provider Wasabi Technologies has opened up its first data centre in Canada. It is located in the Equinix facility in Toronto. The Toronto data centre is part of a broad global expansion of facilities, which has seen them recently move into Frankfurt, Paris, and London in response to market demand for Wasabi cloud storage. However, the Toronto facility also addresses increasing customer customer concerns about the lack of a Canadian-based Wasabi facility to store data.

Wasabi’s global growth rates are impressive.

“We grew 2.6x each of the last few years,” said David Friend, co-founder and CEO at Wasabi. “Two years ago, we had between 3000-4000 customers. Today we have 35,000 customers. We also have 10,000 channel partners, and are growing at the rate of 300-400 a month. We have more deployed storage than anyone but the big three hyperscalers, AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, having just passed IBM. We are still several orders of magnitude smaller than the big three, however.”

While the move to the public cloud has been a factor in the big storage OEMs coming up with as-a-service offerings, Friend doesn’t really see them as a threat to Wasabi or the other cloud storage providers.

“They run private cloud storage, but that doesn’t change the economics much,” Friend stated. “If you buy storage as a service, you don’t get the same cost, and it’s not infinitely scalable because they aren’t a public cloud, which is what people want. I actually think it’s a dumb idea – just a way to turn capex into opex.”

Wasabi’s huge channel comes through its large collection of Technology Alliance Partners [TAP], about 350 in total.

“Anyone who has been selling hardware storage as part of a solution is now offering cloud storage,” Friend said. “We have about 350 TAP partners, including many of the backup vendors, and our TAPs have brought us to our channel partners. Instead of selling their own product plus hardware storage, they sell us. It’s cheaper for the customer, and the margins are better.”

Wasabi has built up its business by being able to offer significantly lower prices than the big hyperscalers.

“We make plenty of money, and so do the other guys,” Friend noted. “We are able to charge less because our technology is newer and more efficient. The AWS storage product is 15 to 16 years old. So much has changed since then. If you started to write an exabyte scale storage product now, you wouldn’t do it like them. But they make money off it, and they have many, many other products, so it’s not an issue for them.”

Wasabi had a presence in Canada before, but the lack of a Canadian data centre to keep all data in the country had become a problem.

“We had Canadian customers who stored in the U.S. from the beginning,” Friend indicated. “However, we now have the ability to take data from those who don’t want to send data to the US. That’s now the majority of customers, including anything with health care or PII [personally identifiable information].”

Wasabi’s Canadian customers are literally all over the map.

“Our backup and surveillance company partners are just as strong in Canada as in the US,” Friend said. “We have to develop distribution channels in Canada now. Some Canadian resellers have been reluctant to get in bed with us because we haven’t had distribution in Canada.” Climb and Carahsoft are their principal ones in the U.S. Their Canadian MSP partners range from little ones in secondary locations to national ones.

Friend said that he doesn’t expect serving the whole Canadian market from Toronto to be a major issue.

“Latency is really the only issue, and for 90% of the things we are used for, 30-35 ms to Vancouver is good,” he indicated. “There are a handful of apps where people need superfast application. However, what has changed there is that the cost of private networks has dropped like a rock, and private networks are faster than the public Internet. So people who are concerned about public networks or who have a serious application that requires speed can use a private network.”

For the time being, the Canadian data centre will not bring about more Wasabi feet on the street in Canada.

“We will be serving Canadian customers out of the US from a sales standpoint for the foreseeable future,” Friend said. “Once our Canadian business gets big enough, we will likely put our own sales staff in there.”