Igneous Systems: Turning On-Premise Storage Management Into A Cloud Service

Storage technology developer Igneous Systems has come out of stealth with an offering for turning the management of on-premise storage into a low-cost cloud service.

With the new Igneous Data Service, Igneous Systems provides an on-premise storage array that sits behind the customer's firewall to protect the data, said Kiran Bhageshpur, CEO of the Seattle-based vendor.

Monitoring, management and troubleshooting of that data is handled over the cloud by Igneous Systems, freeing customers from those tasks, Bhageshpur told CRN.

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"We're bringing the cloud to the customer's data center," he said. "The infrastructure is installed behind their firewall. We bring in the hardware and install it. Customers don't pay for the hardware."

The Igneous Data Service supports the Amazon S3 standard for cloud-based object storage, Bhageshpur said. "Any developer or third-party application with S3 support can work with our solution," he said.

Pricing for the Igneous Data Service starts at $40,000 per year, which includes 212 TB of capacity. "That's under $200 per Terabyte, or about 1.5 cents per Gigabyte, per month," Bhageshpur said. "Traditional storage solutions cost about $1,000 per Terabyte, while Amazon S3 charges about 3 cents per Gigabyte per month."

Igneous Systems offers a few key differentiators from traditional on-premise storage solutions and the cloud, Bhageshpur said.

The first is that, unlike a public cloud where data is stored remotely and unlike a private cloud where customers have to manage the data, Igneous Data Service keeps the data on-premise but does the management in the cloud. "Data is on-prem in our appliance, but the controller is in the cloud," he said. "This is close to how hyper-scale data centers handle storage."

The second is the Igneous appliance itself. Bhageshpur said traditional storage systems consist of CPUs and a bunch of storage capacity, but that leads to I/O bottlenecks and the need to manually intervene if there is a problem with lots of data.

Instead, the Igneous appliance's 4U enclosure includes 60 disks, each of which has its own ARM processor and Linux software. "So customers have unrestricted Gigabit connectivity to each drive," he said. "If one drive has a problem, there's no replacing it. We just move the data. It costs more to replace the drive."

The third is an intelligent data platform that inspects the data and provides all the necessary microservices without the need for manual intervention, Igneous Systems' Bhageshpur said. "It really is serverless computing," he said.

Igneous Systems' offering has an intriguing delivery model, said Aaron Cardenas, CEO and founder of P1 Technologies, a Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based solution provider and Igneous Systems channel partner.

The only real issue for P1 Technologies is that its customers have not yet widely adopted object storage technology, Cardenas told CRN. "In our customer base, there's not a ton of applications ready to consume object storage," he said.

However, Cardenas said, signing on with Igneous Systems was still an important move for P1 Technologies as the move to adopt object storage is coming fast.

"None of the object storage vendors -- SwiftStack, Cleversafe, Scality -- are hitting the ball out of the park," he said. "They have a few large customers with big data sets. But more and more companies will have data that requires object storage in the future."

Cardenas said he is also seeing more storage vendors like Commvault writing data direct to Amazon S3. "These apps can be connected to work with object storage, which will be a great use case for companies like Igneous or Komprise," he said. "As we put these applications in place, we'll see more need for Igneous."

The fact that Igneous Systems deploys its own appliance on-premise does not mean customers are locked into the vendor's technology, said Steve Pao, chief marketing officer for the company.

"We use standard Amazon S3 APIs," Pao said. "So there's no vendor lock-in. And, unlike Amazon, since the appliance is on the customer's own networks, there are no access fees for data movement."

Igneous Systems expects its business to come primarily from the channel, Pao said.

"We're seeing channel partners' sales of traditional infrastructure falling," he said. "They're looking for ways to do more with the cloud to meet growing customer expectations. But customers also want their data behind their firewalls because the data sets are too big, or for compliance purposes."