Zadara Storage adds on-premises version of VPSA cloud storage

Zadara Storage's on-premises as a service option gives customers on-premises storage that 'feels like cloud' but is managed by the vendor.

Zadara Storage has added an on-premises private cloud option based on the storage it has sold for public cloud implementations since 2012.

Zadara came out of stealth two years ago with Virtual Private Storage Array (VPSA) OpenStack-based software that enables block and file storage on Amazon Web Services and other clouds. The on-premises as a service (OPaaS) option launched today, brings VPSAs into the data center, where Zadara Storage manages and monitors performance.

Zadara bills OPaaS as elastic private cloud storage, although customers must commit to six months of service and at least two storage nodes to get started.

While the storage resides on the customer's premises, it is owned by Zadara. The vendor is responsible for hardware replacement, support and monitoring.

Zadara's on-premises storage can be SAN or NAS, and customers can choose a combination of hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). Users can scale the capacity and performance up and down from an online console and they can also replicate to a public cloud for a hybrid setup.

VPSA features

VPSA features include quality of service, encryption of data at rest, multi-tenancy, low-impact snapshots, SSD caching, thin provisioning and asynchronous replication.

Noam Shendar, Zadara’s vice president of business development, said the firm’s customers have 5 petabytes (PB) of VPSA storage deployed in the cloud.

Shendar said customers don't have to pay up front for VPSA OPaaS, but must sign on for at least six months. Customers receive a physical appliance running Zadara software. The appliance is built on commodity hardware with a 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

"We do all the hard things," Shendar said. "We keep it up and running 100% of the time, we take care of the drives that fail and things like that. It feels like cloud -- it's pay as you go, and the customer is not required to keep it up and running. But it's physical -- you can see it and touch it."

Shendar said Zadara will sell its software without the appliance to large companies that meet minimum requirements for on-premises hardware -- such as memory, CPU, storage capacity and price -- but prefers using its pre-tested hardware. "It has to be a big enough deal to satisfy moving the burden to us," he said of software-only deals. "If you introduce strange hardware to the equation, you're adding more work for us."

He identified target customers as service providers and enterprises.

For enterprises, he said OPaaS has value for companies running multiple applications that require peak resources simultaneously and may slow each other down. OPaaS customers can create separate VPSAs for each application to isolate performance. That alleviates the need to overprovision storage to meet peak demands or buy separate storage systems. "There is never a situation where one application hitting the system hard will affect the other," Shendar said.

The appliances support approximately 10 VPSAs per node, although that can vary based on the size of the application. Each installation must have a minimum of two nodes, which can scale to 150 terabytes (TB) each. Customers can mix SSDs and SAS HDDs, and change the drive combinations at any time.

Zadara has two pricing models: fixed and flexible. Fixed pricing is per node. After the initial six-month commitment, customers can change the number of nodes each month -- although each new node has a six-month commitment. Flexible is based on the number of VPSAs and includes four performance levels: Baby, Basic, Boost and Blazing.

Shendar said the flexible model is better for customers with more elastic needs, with the fixed model better for those with more constant requirements. Zadara did not release exact pricing levels but Shendar said it starts at "pennies per gigabyte per month."

Analyst feedback on Zadara’s OPaaS model

Ben Woo, managing director of the market research firm Neuralytix, said OPaaS allows Zadara to compete with traditional storage arrays while using a more flexible cloud model.

"With this model, you can use storage on-premises just like an [EMC] VMAX or anything else," he said. "Zadara is responsible for keeping the SLA for you. You're responsible for buying capacity and telling them how much performance you want."

Woo said he expects most large companies to have a mix of on-premises and cloud storage, and Zadara's strategy is a step in that direction. "It's never going to be all cloud or all on-premises," he said. "Customers looking for a refresh should realize they need to focus more on applications than infrastructure.

"IT stands for information technology, not infrastructure technology, and for too long we focused on the infrastructure part and not the information part,” he noted. “Zadara will let customers focus on information."

Woo said large vendors will likely sell storage in a similar fashion eventually, pointing to NetApp's cloud Data Ontap offering due in 2015. He said Zadara will have to add WAN optimization to improve its data transfer features, but will have a more mature product than the new ones from legacy vendors.

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