A growing need for data backup and archiving services worldwide is impacting the Global Storage as a Service (STaaS) Market, which is expected to post a CAGR of 37.96% from 2014-2019. Zadara Storage, a player in the enterprise storage as a service space, has recently announced to offer Intel-based, flash storage solutions providing flash performance in a pure-OpEx-based model.
Shyam Kaushik, Chief Architect, Zadara Storage in an interview with Techseen discusses the technical requirements for making sure that cloud-deployed storage can meet or exceed on-premise performance and service levels. Excerpts:
Techseen: You have recently added support for Google Cloud Platform in your enterprise cloud storage as a service (STaaS) offering. How is this move beneficial for your business?
Kaushik: It positions us perfectly in this market by supporting all of the major cloud service providers. We’ve offered our storage for AWS and Azure users for over two years now, so by adding Google we bring our solutions to the one remaining hyperscale cloud provider.
It’s a win-win for Google Cloud Platform users as well, who now can access enterprise-grade capabilities they otherwise could not obtain, such as support for protocols like NFS or CIFS – as well as the ability to access any location (cloud, hybrid or on-premise) and any protocol (FC, iSCSI, iSER, NFS, CIFS, S3, Swift) with all of the enterprise-grade data protection features they would expect from traditional, CapEx-based storage arrays.
With Zadara’s multi-cloud concurrent access, users also get the flexibility to connect to the most appropriate service, as needed. It brings us to over 100 clouds on four continents and we continue to grow.
Lastly, it’s a continuation of our commitment to create solution solutions that align with our customers’ needs, not make the customer align their business with the capabilities of the storage.
Techseen: At a time when companies are largely moving to the private or public cloud, why do you still continue to provide on-premises solutions?
Kaushik: Zadara Storage only provides enterprise Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) – we don’t sell traditional CapEx-based on-premise solutions. We provide our solutions for any storage location, including cloud, hybrid, or on-premise; any storage type; and any location. Our On-Premise as-a-Service (OPaaS) solution is just one of our offerings, but it’s grown tremendously fast and is very unique. It’s a private cloud, that’s located on-premise. In this deployment, Zadara Storage provides its own hardware/software resource that sits at the customer’s designated location but we remotely operate, maintain, and update the resource for them – and send a bill for only the storage that is consumed. The customer pays for it as OpEx, as a service – similarly to as they would do for a public cloud.
Analysts predict that private cloud storage, both on-premise and off-premise, will comprise 23% of total data center storage by 2020 – and 50% by 2024. It’s growing faster than public cloud storage sales, too.
The market has heartily endorsed this On-Premise as-a-Service offering. Zadara was the first to offer a pure On-Premise as-a-Service solution. It now represents over 40% of Zadara Storage sales, and in the past few months we’re seen imitators arise following this model.
Techseen: Does Zadara Storage offer a bulk transfer capability? What are the bandwidth limitations to your locations?
Kaushik: We offer bulk transfer capability in most US locations where we ship an OPaaS appliance to customer to which data can be locally transferred, they ship appliance back to us and we transfer the data into VPSAs. Additionally, customers can use any hyperscale cloud provider’s bulk transfer capability, like bulk loading it to Amazon S3 and we support transferring data from S3 to VPSA.
Techseen: How do you ensure data durability, reliability and availability? What’s your downtime history?
Kaushik: With the Zadara Storage Cloud, users build a custom configuration of SAN/NAS/object storage to support their applications via a web interface, and in minutes their storage is available. Virtual, independent controller pairs each access their own, distributed dedicated drives so that multiple tenants can run VPSA Storage Arrays or ZIOS Object Storage without interfering with one another. This delivers predictable performance and exceptional Quality of Service along with a 100% uptime SLA guarantee.
Zadara Storage resources are monitored and maintained by Zadara Storage, and are updated in the background automatically. Therefore, internal resources can be re-deployed to focus on much more useful and valuable activities. At the end of 3-5 years, customers are still running on state-of-the-art equipment. Their storage is proactively upgraded so the hardware is never outdated and essentially “immortal.”
VPSA has advanced data durability, reliability, availability capabilities such that all data is RAID protected, the VPSA has powerful snapshot/clone capabilities that allow customers to maintain a long history of point-in-time snapshots within the VPSA – and lastly, that it has a strong asynchronous remote replication capability that can replicate consistent snapshots to a geographically remote VPSA. This could be to VPSAs on-premise or even in hyperscale cloud environments.
One of the key reasons with our rapidly growing customer base and several of our customers to stay long with VPSA and grow is due to our very stringent uptime SLA’s. Zadara VPSA’s have provided 99.999% uptime.
Techseen: In case of data loss or disruption, how quickly can a client restore data from your infrastructure? You have integrated your proprietary software with OpenStack Cloud Block Storage (Cinder) and AWS for public and private clouds. Why did you tie-up with third party software and how do the integrations benefit your services?
Kaushik: As detailed earlier, VPSA provides a wide range of DR capabilities and all of our customers establish a strong DR plan using VPSA’s capabilities.
Different customers need their storage infrastructure to play with eco-systems that they have. Adding to our any location, any interconnect type of storage, integration with software like Openstack Cinder helps us to cater to customer eco-systems based on OpenStack.
Techseen: How do you ensure physical and virtual security at your data storage facilities?
Kaushik: Zadara Storage Clouds are physically located in some of the most secure data centers in the world, supporting the leading Public Cloud Providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. These data centers feature, at minimum, have the following important physical security attributes:
• Biometric access controls
• 24×7 surveillance
• Redundant power feeds and generators
• Robust fire suppression
• Carefully monitored climate control (to protect the servers that store customer data)
As relates to communications with these resources, the Zadara Cloud Console and Zadara VPSA expose RESTful API calls via the HTTPS protocol. This requires 256-bit SSL-encrypted communication and securely identifies the Zadara web server with which the client is communicating. The VPSA GUI client also communicates with the VPSA web server in this same manner.
Zadara Storage is in the final stages of completing SOC-2 compliance and certification should be complete by January 1, 2017.
Techseen: What kind of cloud onboarding assistance do you provide to a new client? Also do you offer any advice in choosing between on-premise or cloud solution?
Kaushik: We provide comprehensive onboarding services to assist customers who are moving from a CapEx environment to an OpEx Zadara Storage environment. The decision to place data on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid configuration is typically determined by the customer as they work with our on-boarding team.
Our storage architects can help guide users by discussing short, medium and long-term goals. The key is that Zadara Storage provides users with the flexibility to deploy any combination, and therefore, the storage services align with the customer rather than the other way around.
Techseen: How competitive is your pricing structure as against other cloud providers?
Kaushik: Highly competitive. For example we just debuted an Intel-based Flash Storage as a Service solution where the SSDs are priced the same as HDDs. We believe the market has passed an inflection point, and flash should be priced on par with disk-based solutions – providing flash performance to the mass market, we believe these solutions will accelerate market momentum away from HDD-based offerings.
Techseen: What is your current team strength and do you plan to expand anytime soon?
Kaushik: We have nearly 50 employees worldwide, including an office and a team in Bangalore. Our headquarters is in Irvine California and we also have an R&D team in Israel. We’re more than doubling annual revenues for the fourth year in a row and yes indeed, we’re hiring!