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TrueNAS Developer iXsystems Ships First HCI Appliance

Joseph F. Kovar

‘We give customers the software for free, while customers pay partners for the turnkey TrueNAS HCI appliances. We have a very small number of customers who work with us directly, but we are a very channel-friendly company with 40 percent of the Fortune 500 businesses as our customers,’ says Mario Blandini, iXsystems’ vice president of marketing.

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IXsystems, the open-source developer of the TrueNAS network-attached software, Wednesday said it is now shipping its first hyperconverged infrastructure appliances based on the open-source version of TrueNAS Scale.

TrueNAS Scale, which was released on Feb. 22 to the open-source community, adds scale-out capability to the software to support SMB clustering as well as the ability to run Linux applications, with full support for Docker containers, Kubernetes, KVM and scale-out OpenZFS storage, said Mario Blandini, vice president of marketing for San Jose, Calif.-based iXsystems.

“The way we see the market, NAS now has all the protocols and supports the running of applications,” Blandini told CRN. “So we don’t see NAS as ‘network-attached storage.’ We see it as ‘network application storage.’”

[Related: 2022 Storage 100: Who’s Got Your Backup?]

The company released TrueNAS Scale after four rounds of Q&A testing, and since the open-source launch on Feb. 22 it has had to go through two more rounds even as it saw 20,000 downloads, Blandini said.

“Our model lets customers have unlimited use of TrueNAS Scale free for as much as they want for as long as they want,” he said. “This gives potential customers an on-ramp to test hyperconverged infrastructure in their labs for free. To make money, we sell a fully supported hardware platform. Customers can evaluate the technology and those who like it can ask for the appliance.”

IXsystems’ channel partners make money on selling the hardware HCI appliances, Blandini said.

“We give customers the software for free, while customers pay partners for the turnkey TrueNAS HCI appliances,” he said. “We have a very small number of customers who work with us directly, but we are a very channel-friendly company with 40 percent of the Fortune 500 businesses as our customers.”

It’s an exciting time to be an iXsystems TrueNAS partner, said Chris Poer, director of cloud and IT security at Techgardens, a Lake Success, N.Y.-based solution provider that has been working with the vendor for about eight years.

TrueNAS Scale gives solution providers access to compute as well as storage in a single architecture that can now scale to hundreds of petabytes of capacity, Poer told CRN.

“More importantly, it lets customers deploy a single-box HCI,” he said. “Many of my customers use VMware as a hypervisor with TrueNAS, combining VMware for compute and HCI, TrueNAS for storage and Veeam for backup. TrueNAS Scale may not address everything that VMware can do, but for many of our customers, TrueNAS Scale will work without a need for a VMware license.”

Techgardens brings TrueNAS to its enterprise customers, and TrueNAS Scale HCI is built on the enterprise version of TrueNAS, making it an alternative for many public cloud situations, Poer said.

“This gives iXsystems opportunities in a market worth millions of dollars,” he said. “Yes, the cloud is growing. But there’s still a huge market for private cloud and data centers and for small MSPs looking to help their customers build their own cloud. With TrueNAS Scale, they can take VMware out of the system to provide a full TrueNAS cloud with SaaS applications and true disaster recovery built in.”

IXsystems has proven to be a good channel-friendly company, Poer said.

“They’re very supportive of us,” he said. “They have the scale to offer us enterprise products, but they’re not so big that they won’t help us when we need it.”

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