Monday, October 23, 2017

Storage iron age is OVER: Software-defined storage providers make history by disrupting 70-year-old industry

Vendor lock-in has no place in the digital economy and “big iron” hardware vendors are something from the past, Gary Quinn, president and CEO at FalconStor, tells Data Economy.

The word needs as much storage as possible as new and disruptive technologies emerge and data is produced at never-seen-before speeds.

For example, according to Statista, by 2020, data centre storage capacity, including public, private and traditional data centres, will top 1,830 exabytes worldwide. This is up from 2015’s 380 exabytes and 2016’s 530.

However, even before we reached  2015’s figures, the market was already en route to major shifts and leaders were being challenged by newcomers.

Data Economy (DE) spoke to Gary Quinn (GQ), president and CEO at data protection and storage virtualisation computer software company FalconStor on who is controlling the market and how the cloud is reshaping the industry.


DE: Is the storage market in danger of being controlled by the large storage vendors such as VMware and Amazon and what role can software-defined storage providers play to disrupt the industry? 

Gary Quinn, president and CEO at FalconStor

GQ: We think that in every marketplace including IT there are significant and dominant vendors. The storage marketplace is no different. You have mentioned VMware and Amazon which is an interesting notation.

If we look back just five years ago, most people would not have considered VMware a storage vendor and Amazon was still a great way to buy online just about anything you wanted. Both of these vendors have taken the opportunity to converge the compute, network and storage assets with a virtualisation capability from different perspectives.

What is interesting is the changing face of primary storage vendors. For many years, it’s all been about the “big iron” hardware vendors locking out the smaller players, however with the increased commoditisation of hardware, coupled with open, software-defined platforms such as FreeStor, we’re now seeing customers wising up to the fact that they can leverage multiple hardware vendors while still enjoying the benefits of a single interface point.


DE: Big data and the Internet of Things are causing a data explosion. How crucial is the role storage providers’ play in allowing organisations to benefit from this? 

GQ: Storing data is easy. Protecting it and recovering it are the trickier tasks and yes, it’s crucial that storage providers should be doing everything that they can to enable their customers to leverage their data and extract value from it – the core driver behind Big Data.

Storage is going through an interesting transition where buyers can now take advantage of both the increased hardware commoditisation and the arrival of public cloud service providers, however it’s key that there’s a balance.

Today, we at FalconStor find that the cloud provides the scalability and the convergence in some cases but it has other areas which fall short.  It is certainly a rethinking of the way IT needs to adapt in order to deliver on business expectations.

We believe software in all areas of convergence is the solution for this transformation to occur and FalconStor’s customers have found that they can handle data explosions by utilising a hybrid of on-premises and public cloud storage but using a single interface to manage it all.


DE: What are the pros/cons of moving to the cloud and what should organisations bear in mind before doing so?

GQ: The cloud should be viewed as that virtualised environment whether on premises, at a hosted-private provider or in a public environment; Amazon, Azure or Google.

A recent study showed that the Managed Services Provider marketplace is six times greater than the current public cloud offerings, albeit growing at a slower pace than the explosive growth of some of the current industry well-known names.

In all cases the ability to utilise an IaaS with maximum buying power and utilisation which can be shared across workloads or companies is very attractive from an economic standpoint as well as from a service level performance standpoint.

The pros are flexibility, possible cost savings and speed to market. The cons are possible cost increases due to misunderstanding of public cloud provider pricing models, potential risks of cloud service providers failing to continue as a business, initial capital outlays which may not obtain the desired results.

Organisations should be inventorying their current customer workloads both internally and externally, understanding their customer expectations and willingness to pay for improved service levels and finally, do they have the experience to deliver with capital support.

We believe that in order to support this transformation, that technology providers should become partners in the transformation and in the risk of success which means that you “pay-as-you-go” on every project.

The risk is to current licensing and procurement methods, but the “only-way-to-go”, if you want to succeed in the future.


DE: FalconStor added the ability to manage data from a hybrid cloud environment towards the end of last year; will compatibility with the cloud continue to be a focus for you in 2017? 

GQ: We believe that customers and partners should have the ability to move their workload which contains their company information to a destination; on premise, hosted private provider or public location that meets their requirements.

Those requirements as we see from the above questions are; a more flexible environment, appropriate costs and improved speed to market.

The extension of our FreeStor product to the public cloud is another step in the journey to providing an intelligent solution that supports virtualisation of the assets, delivering real-time and historical information to assess the expectations whether internally or externally located and finally delivering upon a cost model that shares the risk of success with the customer and the supplier.

The cloud in its entire forms; private, hybrid or public are a major focus for FreeStor and Falconstor as we move ahead.