Zadara Intros Pay-As-You-Go Storage Service For On-Premise IT

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Enterprise storage service provider Zadara has released a new solution for managing on-premise enterprise SAN and NAS data as if it were a service via a pay-as-you-go model that requires no up-front capital expenditures.

The Zadara Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) On-Premise-as-a-Service, or OPaaS, takes advantage of the company's experience with managing data in public clouds to provide a similar service using data stored in a customer's data center, said Noam Shendar, vice president of business development for the Irvine, Calif.-based vendor.

The name of the service, On-Premise-as-a-Service, or OPaaS, is a mouthful, Shendar admitted. "We're trying to describe what it is: an on-premise solution presented as a service," he told CRN.

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OPaaS goes beyond other vendors' flexible lease programs, Shendar said. "We go farther than that," he said. "You get our box on your premises. We provide it with a 100 percent SLA [service level agreement]. The storage is on-premise. But it's available as a service."

Zadara in the past provided the ability for customers to pre-position storage in close proximity to public clouds like Amazon Web Services via the AWS DirectConnect service, or Microsoft Azure via the Azure ExpressRoute service, Shendar said.

"That lets customers connect their cloud services to their storage," he said. "But customers asked if we could provide a similar service for those who don't want to go to the cloud, or who can't go to the cloud."

Zadara's OPaaS offering is available in two flavors, Shendar said.

The first allows customers to pay based on their actual usage. "The monthly cost may go up or down," he said. "There is a minimum cost so we don't have people hogging too much storage on-site without paying for it. It depends on the size of the implementation, but the price will be less than the ancillary cost of owning the arrays."

The second fixes the price for six months in advance, and was designed for customers who are better able to predict their storage requirements. "If the customer knows in advance what they need in the next six months, that leaves us with no uncertainty, so we can calculate the lowest price possible," he said.

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Customers also can mix-and-match models so that part of their storage is handled based on actual usage while other parts are managed on a fixed-price basis, Shendar said.

"In general, services providers tend to gravitate towards flexible pricing as their customers' requirements are more flexible," Shendar said. "Enterprises gravitate more towards fixed pricing."

Zadara's OPaaS solves two major issues for customers, said Glenn Cameron, CEO and owner of SerenITaas, a Markham, Ontario-based solution provider and channel partner for both Zadara and Amazon Web Services.

The first is keeping storage infrastructures up-to-date, Cameron told CRN.

"Solutions from companies like IBM and EMC have three-year cycles," he said. "When the solutions get outdated, the vendors want to sell new solutions. Zadara offers scalability. If you grow to 10 nodes, and three of those nodes get older, you can copy data to the new nodes and replace the old ones without users even knowing."

The second is capacity planning, Cameron said.

"IT looks at what everybody needs, and if it adds up to, say, 10 terabytes, IT installs 10 terabytes," he said. "One of two things will happen. The departments may really only need 5 terabytes, but the company has spent for 10 terabytes. Or six months into the year, that 10 terabytes is at 95 percent capacity, but there's no budget for more. With OPaaS, I as a partner can look at a customer's capacity, and if it's at 80 percent, I can bring in a new node."

OPaaS is not the same thing as capacity-on-demand storage, Cameron said. "With capacity-on-demand, there's no turning back," he said. "Once storage is turned on, it has to stay on. With OPaaS, if a customer doesn't need the new capacity later, it can be taken back. As a partner, I take control of the nodes, and take the risks."

Jamie Begin, CEO of RightBrain Networks, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based solution provider and cloud consultancy for whom 80 percent of business is related to Amazon, said Zadara's OPaaS helps overcome issues related to shared storage, which is difficult to do in cloud environments.

"Zadara gives us the ability to spin up individual spindles and connect them to cloud compute resources," Begin told CRN. "The killer app is an easy on-ramp to the cloud, but easy to get the data back."

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One RightBrain Networks customer was dealing with 800 million files across 30 AWS EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes, which was painful in Amazon, Begin said. "We used Zadara with 36 disks in a single array, and the customer can now manage the files using iSCSI or Microsoft SMB [Service Message Block]," he said.

There is a data availability gap when moving data to the cloud, with some data in the cloud and other data on-premise, Begin said. Zadara helps solve that gap by having its hardware on-premise together with a VPSA for data on the cloud synced to the array, he said.

"Customers in this case are not locked into Amazon," he said. "One array allows customers to connect to multiple clouds simultaneously. This will be interesting in the future as the cloud becomes a commodity. Customers will be able to use whatever cloud provider they want depending on price at the time. So there's no cloud lock-in."