SolidFire Upends All-Flash Storage Pricing With Perpetual Software License, Separate Hardware Pricing

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Dave Cahill, SolidFire
SolidFire's Cahill explains FlashForward Capacity licensing

NetApp's new SolidFire business Thursday unveiled a significant new way to price all-flash storage arrays that includes a perpetual license for the software and separately prices the hardware to give customers flexibility in how they want to deploy their storage.

The company also previewed some of the new capabilities of the next version of its flash storage operating system, and introduced a new all-flash storage appliance.

The new solutions were unveiled at the SolidFire Analyst Day event at the company's Boulder, Colo., headquarters.

[Related: NetApp Fourth Quarter '16: Down Year Over Year, But New Strategic Technologies Expected To Lead Growth Going Forward]

They were the first new solutions from the company since NetApp closed its acquisition of SolidFire.

SolidFire's new FlashForward Capacity licensing program allows customers with large and fast-growing data stores to acquire the software and hardware separately, said Dave Cahill, SolidFire's senior director of product and strategy.

"It's the best of two worlds," Cahill told CRN. "It combines the support and simplicity of the appliance model with the flexibility of a software-only model."

Nearly all storage solutions are sold as an appliance, with customers purchasing a hardware appliance with integrated software and licenses to use that software, Cahill said.

However, when new capacity is required, or when the storage system is upgraded, customers typically need to purchase new storage arrays with new licenses, with no way to transfer the licenses to the new storage capacity, he said.

With FlashForward Capacity licensing, customers purchase the license to use specified amounts of capacity. Those licenses have a street price starting at $1 per GB for up to 299 TB, with the price dropping to 40 cents per GB at the highest tier.

Customers also purchase the storage hardware separately, Cahill said. "We've broken the bond between software and hardware," he said. "We sell the software and hardware as separate lines within the quote. This gives customers more flexibility, and changes the economics of storage purchasing."

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