Breaking Into the Storage Market Page 2


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Customers Testify to Startups

Nick Colakovic, operations manager for First Industrial Realty, said his company gave some Adaptec SNAP servers and a patchwork machine the heave-ho for startup Compellent's Storage Center.

Colakovic said First Industrial was attracted to Compellent's thin provisioning, data-tiering, replication and boot from SAN capabilities, which enable arrays to automatically fire up servers.

"Compellent is performing quite well, and the product is very easy to manage," Colakovic said.

First Industrial Realty chose Compellent's product after doing an evaluation of systems from EMC, HDS, Pillar, Lefthand and HP. The deal clincher was in the management.

"The problem is the [other] vendors' products are saddled with an antiquated management platform. You'd have to buy storage management products just to watch I/O stats in and out of the server. That's just too much work."

Todd Rayl, vice president of security services for Business Vitals, expressed similar satisfaction with the Axiom 500 from Pillar, which replaced an EMC 8430 array.

Rayl, whose company provides security services, said Business Vitals plucked Pillar from an evaluation that included EMC, NetApp, Compellent and Lefthand Networks. Business Vitals did a "try-and-buy" with Pillar to make sure the Axiom 500 was the right fit, and took the leap of faith to the tune of 10 terabytes.

"One of the main reasons that we selected Pillar is that they've got an interesting concept and architecture in terms of how it scales," Rayl said.

"In a SAN, you've got a single processor that drives multiple shelves of disks or arrays. With Pillar, every time you add storage, you add additional cache, memory and processing power to the overall system. As you scale, you increase performance."

Pillar's simplified licensing model didn't hurt, either.

"The guys that have been around for a while seem to nickel and dime you for every little thing that you want to do on a system, such as the number of hosts that you want to attach to it," Rayl said. "It's just mind-numbing."

Rayl added: "When you deal with the EMCs, the NetApps and the IBMs of the world, it is so difficult to deal with those companies sometimes because they are just not flexible. Smaller companies and their ability to adapt to change quickly or customer requests are much more nimble, and it's refreshing."

With testimonials like that, startups can certainly make a play for their piece of the large storage system pie, especially if they can help CIOs save some bucks or offer some features the big guys don't have.

"The hope of the smaller startups is they can get into an account where a customer is seeing IBM, EMC, Sun, HP, HDS, NetApp, and they see sticker shock," Schulz said. "Get in there and say 'you can get the same amount of storage from us for 25 to 100 percent less.' It's not necessarily about better performance, but about functionality and key cost savings."

But there are no absolutes.

Schulz said that while smaller vendors love to make the claim that they are cheaper than the big guys, he hears stories all the time that startups are getting undercut themselves.

"People who know how to shop or work with different VARs [value-added resellers] can find better deals anywhere," Schulz said. "It's a matter of 'what do I need' versus 'what are you going to give me for this cost?'"

Article courtesy of Internet News

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