Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

May 5, 2015

SMB Group talks to Atlantis Computing about HyperScale Appliance

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Here’s an edited transcript of my interview with Bob Davis, VP of Marketing for Atlantis Computing about their recently announced HyperScale Appliance.

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Sanjeev: Hi, this is Sanjeev Aggarwal from SMB group and in today’s SMB spotlight I’m talking to Bob Davis, who is Atlantis Computing’s Vice President of Marketing. Hi Bob, thanks for joining me in this discussion. To start it would be good to know what types of storage solutions Altantis provides.

Bob: Okay, well first of all thank you for the opportunity to be on the call today, Sanjeev. We are excited to be launching an all-flash hyper-converged appliance, which we call Atlantis HyperScale, that provides not only compute, networking and storage, but all together in one box for up to 90% less cost than competing alternatives.

Sanjeev: And why should mid-size companies care about this solution?

Bob: I think the focus here is that this is the first commercially viable choice that SMBs have had to really adopt such a powerful component for their compute needs or their data center needs. It takes all of that functionality that I just described and makes it affordable, really addressing the needs for performance, which all-flash addresses, but it’s very expensive. It also provides simplicity, which our hyper-converged architecture promises but which has been priced out of the market for most, if not all SMBs.

Sanjeev: How do you define a hyper-converged appliance? And what services does this appliance provide?

Bob: Well, obviously the appliance manifests itself as a hardware box, as a hardware server. On it we provide an all-flash architecture, with the ability to deploy on any of your favorite hardware. For example, Super Micro, Cisco, HP or Lenovo servers, which contain, as I mentioned, compute capabilities, state of the art X86 compute capabilities and networking capabilities. So it plugs right into your infrastructure, and obviously your storage, and the storage comes in 12 and 24 TB configurations. Upon that architecture, it can run really any workload, any application. So far, customers have used it for things like desktop virtualization, database acceleration, collaboration, storage, and applications like email and other virtualized server applications that are found typically in SMB and commercial environments.

Sanjeev: Thanks. Cost is an important consideration for the mid-sized company, so how does the price point of the Atlantis solution compare to the competitors that have similar solutions?

Bob: You’re absolutely right, Sanjeev, I think cost and simplicity or time-to-value are two of the primary drivers that were included in the evolution and the development of this product line. From a cost point of view, our product starts at a price of $80,000 for an all-flash 12 TB appliance. Compare that with other all-flash appliances and you can spend up to $800,000. So a factor of 10 more expensive, even against lower performance hybrid type converged boxes you’re looking at a price savings of greater than 50%. So again, really making it commercially viable for the first time.

Sanjeev: How easy is it to deploy this appliance, and does one need to be a storage expert to deploy it?

Bob: Yeah, that points to the second of our previous comments and that is the simplicity aspect. That was really important to us, so we developed it with the idea that the customer would have very little in terms of an IT staff, that the IT Staff would be generalists or perhaps even an external IT staff. We wanted it to be able to be very straightforward. It takes less than 20 minutes to install at a customer site. Answer a few questions and boom the volumes serve up, the virtual server comes alive, and it’s available on the network for high performance. It’s very straightforward and the time-to-value is like lightning. So it’s really an awesome product for that market.

Sanjeev: And does this appliance integrate some of the previous storage systems that SMBs and mid-market companies have?

Bob: Yes, it conforms to every standard on the planet, it comes complete with networking, so it’s a plug and play component from that point of view, and serves up the storage to the network so it’s visible through the network management application that might be present at the site through common APIs.

Sanjeev: Okay, can you give some examples of initial targets for the vertical solutions and also some examples of mid-market beta customers that have tested the solution?

Bob: Sure, I think that you know, we have historically at Atlantis computing, seen a lot of pickup in the healthcare and financial services area for Software-Defined Storage as a category as a whole, Atlantis HyperScale has seen some similar kind of attraction, so mid-sized banks, regional banks, healthcare organizations, pharmacy, these are all verticals that have been very, very prominent. Another is schools. We’ve had tremendous success, historically and with Atlantis Hypsercale in the area of schools. A lot of the things that are in common in these environments, are desktops that move around whether its doctors, or students for example, or tellers, where I have a desktop virtualization application which by the way are very inefficient relative to storage and require a lot of performance which makes a hyper-converged architecture in this case, Atlantis HyperScale, perfect for those environments. And that is indeed the environment where our beta customers have come from, in addition to that, some retail and manufacturing facilities. And our customers have been both North America as well as EMIA, in terms of their geography, so we see a very global presence with Atlantis HyperScale.

Sanjeev: How does Atlantis go to market with the solution, does it sell directly or through channel partners?

Bob: Great question Sanjeev, because that’s very central to our strategy. We are going to market exclusively through Value-Added-Resellers, solution providers and so forth. We have an Atlantis Channel Program where we are beginning this through to our gold partners, but we will be expanding it to those that service the SMB market, that deal in storage virtualization markets. But again key point, a hundred percent through the channel is the fulfillment strategy of Atlantis Hyerscale

Sanjeev: And can you help mid-market companies connect with these partners?

Bob: Yes, you are able to go to our website at Atlantiscomputing.com, the HyperScale sections on the website are clear and from that you’ll be able to find a partner and get a quote. You’ll obviously get more information and really learn anything you’d like about Atlantis HyperScale and in this particular point, especially about where to buy it.

Sanjeev: Okay, thank you. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. I look forward to seeing the progress this innovative and competitive solution makes in the market.

Bob: Thank you very much Sanjeev, we will be sure to keep you and your listeners and readers apprised of our progress.

March 19, 2012

Dell Extends its End-to-End Storage Story for SMBs

Filed under: Blogs - Sanjeev Aggarwal, ISV, Small Business, SMB, Storage — Tags: , , , — sanjeevaggarwal @ 11:35 am

Storage is a key requirement for today’s small-to-medium business (SMB) and mid-market enterprises. As the amount of data multiplies, and the need to protect critical data grows, SMBs now require many of the same data storage capabilities as larger enterprises.

With these requirements in mind, Dell recently announced the acquisition of AppAssure–the company’s first acquisition since launching its new Software Group. AppAssure will be part of Dell’s enterprise storage and software line-up, and underscores Dell intent to extend its footprint in the storage solutions market. The acquisition helps Dell take another big step in its enterprise solutions strategy and deliver a Fluid Data architecture that automatically and intelligently optimizes and protects data everywhere.

AppAssure’s software solution, billed as next generation data protection, provides continuous backup protection across physical, virtual, and cloud-based storage environments and includes the following capabilities:

  • Snapshot and replication
  • Data de-duplication and compression
  • Backup and restore
  • Archiving

Market demand for this type of solution is reflected in AppAssure’s success to date. Since its launch in 2006, AppAssure has expanded to 230 employees and more than 6,000 customers worldwide, with 194% revenue growth year-over-year for 2011.

PERSPECTIVE

The top four technology challenges for the SMB and mid-market companies are (Figure 1):

  • Containing technology related costs
  • Implementing new solutions and upgrades
  • Keeping my systems up and running
  • Integrating different applications

Figure 1 SMB and Mid-market Top Technology Challenges


Source: SMB Group 2011 Small and Medium Business Routes to Market Study, November 2011

As the complexity of storage requirements rises, these challenges have become more pronounced in the storage space as SMBs have tried to piece together disparate solutions from multiple vendors to ensure data protection and business continuity/disaster recovery.

With AppAssure, Dell can provide SMBs with storage capabilities not only for their physical servers but across to virtual and cloud computing environments–which are increasingly the environment of choice for SMBs. Regardless of the data environment, AppAssure Backup and Replication provides backup/restore, archiving, and disaster recovery, simplifying administration with near instant, reliable data recovery. AppAssure also protects application software in both virtual and physical environments.

AppAssure is part of Dell’s broader “fluid data” architecture (Figure 2), which is designed to put the right data in the right place at the right time, at the right cost. It provides a unified storage architecture to manage data more cost-effectively and efficiently–thereby addressing the key technology challenges that SMBs face. At a high level, the Dell Fluid Data architecture can help SMBs manage the growing data avalanche in a more intelligent and streamlined way. In addition to the capabilities enabled by AppAssure, Dell’s storage architecture and solutions (Figure 2) address a broad range of storage management needs including:

  • Ability of handle file, block and object-level data to support a variety of applications, from Microsoft Exchange to virtualization solutions to databases to social media applications.
  • Automated support for multi-tier storage (primary, backup and archive data) to control rapidly escalating storage costs and compliance requirements.
  • Automated data protection and replication, eliminating the need for daily manual intervention.
  • Support for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Figure 2 Dell Unifying Storage Architecture


Source: Dell


Rapid data growth driven by new applications such as rich-media, social media, 64-bit architectures and compliance solutions requiring availability of data for very long time-periods is causing increases in storage system costs, storage infrastructure complexity, and power and cooling costs. Dell’s end-to-end storage management solutions help SMBs get some of these storage costs under control, for instance:

  • Data reduction technologies such as data de-duplication and compression allow SMBs to control data growth rates by eliminating redundant data. This enables more efficient use of existing storage assets and helps users defer capital expenditures for new storage systems as they reduce disk capacity requirements. They also help decrease bandwidth requirements for data transfer.
  • Tiered storage architectures allow users to control storage hardware costs based on business value and frequency of access. Higher performance, higher cost storage resources can be dedicated to mission critical initiatives, and lower performance and cost solutions can be allocated for back up and archiving.
  • Storage virtualization helps address storage costs by improving resource utilization, data mobility, information availability and related IT resources required to manage storage environments.
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions reduce the impact of unexpected outages. By helping to keep the business up and running, they protect against potential revenue loss and brand damage due to outages.

QUICK TAKE

Dell’s acquisition of AppAssure and its continued focus on end-to-end storage management solutions provides several benefits to SMBs in addition to cost savings:

  • Ability to manage a mixed environment of physical, virtual, and cloud-based storage in a unified storage management solution.
  • Reduced IT resources needed for data storage management.
  • Ease of doing business with a single vendor for an integrated storage management solution.
  • Significant storage capacity savings afforded by storage consolidations and sophisticated deduplication/compression technologies.
  • Support for the most widely adopted virtual solutions – Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, vSphere and Citrix XenServer.

And, with SMB market adoption of virtualization and cloud solutions rising, Dell’s timing couldn’t be better. The interest among SMBs to acquire/upgrade IT infrastructure management and virtualization solutions is very high (Figure 3), driven by the need to address IT environment complexity and increasing costs.

Figure 3 Solutions Purchased/Upgraded and Future Plans


Source: SMB Group 2011 Small and Medium Business Routes to Market Study, November 2011

That said, SMBs need better guidance in this area. Dell can significantly strengthen its story–and sales–by making it easier for the SMBs to easily understand the scope of it storage systems and end-to-end storage management offerings and pinpoint the “best-fit” solution(s) for their needs through the following:

  • Compararative information and visuals on Dell’s web site-replacing pages of detailed information and specs that illustrate Dell solutions and provide guidance on when and why different systems are relevant
  • Web-based tools for needs assesssment and recommendations.
  • Proof points in the form of customer references, return-on-investement and total-cost-of-ownership calculations that illustrate the financial and efficiency benefits of Dell’s integrated approach.

By providing education to SMBs and clarifying its storage story, Dell can make the most out of its push to extend beyond the hardware business to provide business computing solutions that are innovative, yet practical–and geared to both SMBs as well as large enterprises.

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