StorONE Announces S1-as-a-Service

StorONE recently announced its StorONE-as-a-Service (S1aaS) offering. I had the opportunity to speak to Gal Naor about it and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

 

The Announcement

StorONE’s S1-as-a-Service (S1aaS), is a use-based solution integrating StorONE’s S1 storage services with Dell Technologies and Mellanox hardware. The idea is they’ll ship you an appliance (available in a few different configurations) and you plug it in and away you go. There’s not a huge amount to say about it as it’s fairly straightforward. If you need more that the 18TB entry-level configuration, StorONE can get you up and running with 60TB thanks to overnight shipping.

Speedonomics

The as-a-Service bit is what most people are interested in, and S1aaS starts at $999 US per month for the 18TB all-flash array that delivers up to 150000 IOPS. There are a couple of other configurations available as well, including 36TB at $1797 per month, and 54TB at $2497 per month. If, for some reason, you decide you don’t want the device any more, or you no longer have that particular requirement, you can cancel your service with 30 days’ notice.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

The idea of consuming storage from vendors on-premises via flexible finance plans isn’t a new one. But S1aaS isn’t a leasing plan. There’s no 60-month commitment and payback plan. If you want to use this for three months for a particular project and then cancel your service, you can. Just as you could with cable. From that perspective, it’s a reasonably interesting proposition. A number of the major storage vendors would struggle to put that much capacity and speed in such a small footprint on-premises for $999 per month. This is the major benefit of a software-based storage product that, by all accounts, can get a lot out of commodity server hardware.

I wrote about StorONE when they came out of stealth mode a few years ago, and noted the impressive numbers they were posting. Are numbers the most important thing when it comes to selecting storage products? No, not always. There’s plenty to be said for “good enough” solutions that are more affordable. But it strikes me that solutions that go really fast and don’t cost a small fortune to run are going to be awfully compelling. One of the biggest impediments to deploying on-premises storage solutions “as-a-Service” is that there’s usually a minimum spend required to make it worthwhile for the vendor or service provider. Most attempts previously have taken more than 2RU of rack space as a minimum footprint, and have required the customer to sign up for minimum terms of 36 – 60 months. That all changes (for the better) when you can run your storage on a server with NVMe-based drives and an efficient, software-based platform.

Sure, there are plenty of enterprises that are going to need more than 18TB of capacity. But are they going to need more than 54TB of capacity that goes at that speed? And can they build that themselves for the monthly cost that StorONE is asking for? Maybe. But maybe it’s just as easy for them to look at what their workloads are doing and decide whether they want everything to on that one solution. And there’s nothing to stop them deploying multiple configurations either.

I was impressed with StorONE when they first launched. They seem to have a knack for getting good performance from commodity gear, and they’re willing to offer that solution to customers at a reasonable price. I’m looking forward to seeing how the market reacts to these kinds of competitive offerings. You can read more about S1aaS here.

StorONE Spring From Stealth, Post Some Serious Numbers

StorONE recently came out of stealth with some impressive numbers. I had the opportunity to have a briefing with Gal Naor and thought I’d share my notes here.

 

Company Background

Gal Naor is the CEO (You might remember him from Storwize), with Raz Gordon the CTO. StorONE is funded by investors such as Seagate and venture capital firms GIZA and JGV, as well as private investors such as Microsoft’s Chairman John Thompson and former President of Sun Microsystems and CEO of Motorola, Edward Zander. They have offices in Israel, New York, Texas and Singapore.

 

The Problem

StoreONE are positioning themselves as the “Core Technology Company” and have focused on a product developed from the ground up. They have more than fifty patents lodged (most already granted). They tell me they’re heavily focused on innovation versus integration. By this they mean that their competitors integrate new features on yesterday’s technologies.

For the last six years we’ve seen some hardware innovation, in that things are just getting faster and fatter.

  • Faster: Drives, DRAM, Networking
  • Greater: Capacity, CPU cores

According to StorONE, High performance, high capacity or features are no longer the challenge. So what is the challenge then? For StorONE, it’s about delivering a product that:

  • Is cost effective; and
  • Delivers features without affecting performance and capacity.

According to them, “Storage is a broken ecosystem”. And it’s hard to do storage right the way we do it now, with the cost of IOs being high and customers struggling with vendor lock-in. Storage software seems to be the chokepoint.

 

What Does StorONE Do?

StorONE is a software play, and their “TRU (Total Resource Utilization) Storage” solution is designed to provide greater functionality on data path. There’s big focus on ease of use. Some of the cooler features of the product include the ability to run:

  • All protocols on the same drives
  • Mix workloads on the same tin; and
  • Unlimited snapshots without performance degradation

StorONE makes the hardware less important. To their way of thinking, the hardware they use is still the same. Drives are still HDDs, SSDs or NVMe. A block is still a block. It’s all commodity. You can run it as a physical or virtual solution.

They offer some neat protection mechanisms, including:

  • Integrated unlimited snapshots per volume – simple to restore, writable and nested. Supporting customized retention, VSS and Consistency Groups
  • Disk redundancy (N+K) per volume – no RAID restrictions – disks or cards. Fast rebuild. Mix and match drives.
  • No extra data copies

The system is designed for persistent integrity, enabling recovery from any hardware issues (by this they mean they don’t use cache). Other design considerations include:

  • Cloud design – manageable from any device (CLI and RESTful API);
  • No minimum capacity requirement – grow without capacity planning;
  • Application templates – minimal human errors; and
  • Proactive support and monitoring.

StorONE tell me their cost per Gigabyte is less than cloud pricing. There’s a subscription based licensing scheme in place.

Package Name Minimum Monthly Payment Including Price per GB Above
A $1500 150TB $0.01
B $6000 1PB $0.006
C $20000 10PB $0.002
D Call StorONE

What would you use it for?

  • High / ultra high IOPS workloads (SSD, NVMe);
  • High capacity / high throughout, high data protection; and
  • TRU Converged solution.

“Reduce storage costs faster than data growth”

 

Thoughts

StorONE are talking some really impressive numbers on minimal hardware. The key, as far as they’re concerned, is that the software is where the magic happens. According to them, you can get pretty good performance out of today’s hardware using just Linux. They key is to make it simple to use, simple to scale and simple to consume. From what I’ve seen in their introduction, they seem to be on their way to achieving that goal. I think it’s worth checking them out, and I’m keen to see how they progress in the marketplace over the next 12 months.