November 5, 2012
I’ve written previously about TwinStrata – a company whose CloudArray storage gateway is designed to enable organizations to deploy cloud SANs which combine public and private cloud storage providers along with their existing storage infrastructure. It’s a logical play – while pure cloud may be the holy grail and the eventual default for organizations – that’s a vision that is years away and in the interim organizations want to eek out as much as they can from traditional storage (and their already sunk costs) as well as taking advantage of cloud options.
Given this heterogeneous approach towards storage – it makes sense that vendors offering a platform to manage storage from many different locations, and flavors of infrastructure would be a compelling proposition. CloudArray sells itself as the only product that enables existing organizations to eek out the value from their existing storage but to do so in combination with public and private storage in a multi-tenant, multi-site model. As I said previously:
…a play such as this is merely an interim measure – I see existing resistance to the cloud reducing within organizations in the years ahead, that coupled with the end-of-lifing of much on-premises storage kit will see a natural and gradual progression from on-prem to cloud. However in enabling the sliding wedge to begin the move away from on-prem, CloudArray is performing a valuable role.
Anyway – TwinStrata is today announcing that they’re introducing NAS support to CloudArray – meaning that the product now supports both NAS and SAN protocols. I also took the opportunity to talk more with TwinStrata about their approach. CloudArray is available as either a virtual, or a physical appliance. The latest release has some additional features as well:
- Both Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Active Directory for file-based NAS access, as well as the previously available iSCSI-based SAN access
- 20+ cloud storage providers, with the addition of Dell, Google, HP Cloud Services, IBM SmartCloud, and others this year
- In-cloud appliance deployments in cloud compute environments to deliver superior disaster recovery for on-premise environments and primary storage for cloud-based infrastructures 
- Both subscription-based (bundling appliance with cloud storage) and “bring your own cloud” (perpetual license) models
The pricing of the product is shown in the diagram below.
CloudArray is filling a couple of roles – it is both a neutral hub for different flavors of storage, and also a storage product itself. I put it to TwinStrata that this could create a bit of tension – customers look to the company to be an honest and neutral party, but this is somewhat conflicted by their own storage products. The company’s response was that the storage aspects of CloudArray are generally only used by small businesses that have no existing storage or vendor relationships – as such it is more a case of removing the barriers to heterogeneous storage provision than it is about selling storage per se.
In terms of the different pricing levels – TwinStrata is pushing the utility based model (at $0.19/GB/Month) – the appliances come as part of the package and it is only once an organization’s storage moves beyond 5TB that they get a physical appliance bundled with their subscription. I’d be interested to know market reaction – my suspicion is that most customers will still prefer a perpetual license model – it’s kind of one of the untold secrets of IT that despite everyone talking about subscription pricing, most larger businesses want a perpetual model.
CloudArray has a number of different use cases – replication, disaster recovery, application transfer and actual transactional storage – as always the particular requirements of the organization will dictate where it is most ideally placed. They’ve partnered with a number of cloud storage providers – Amazon, Rackspace, IBM Smart Cloud and Google Compute Engine – giving customers the widest selection of outside storage vendors to mix with their own kit.
The short to mid-term future very much revolves around mixed public and private storage using both commodity-based and proprietary existing kit. Vendors like TwinStrata that bring these different strands together are well placed to deliver upon a current customer need.