With object-based storage expected to account for $38 billion in 2017, cloud storage projected to be worth $46.8 billion by 2018, and disk storage alone generating $7.4 billion in the most recent quarter, there are a lot of alternatives for dealing with the escalating growth of data (50%-plus per year), especially unstructured data. Some of those alternatives can be risky, i.e. the failure of Nirvanix which left more than 1,000 customers with only two weeks to save their data that was hosted on the cloud storage provider, or very expensive. A relative newcomer to the storage market – founded in 2010, funded in 2011 and just scored another $22 million in December – Exablox says it is reimagining storage with its OneBlox (scale-out object-based appliance) and OneSystem (multi-tenant cloud-based management service) offerings, which it also calls BYOD (bring your own drive) and something better-suited for the emerging DIY (do-it-yourself) trend.
“In our world we believe you should treat commodities as commodities,” said CEO Doug Brockett. “We view ourselves as a software company… (that just) happens to ship an appliance.” His company includes storage veterans from companies such as Data Domain, Veritas, NetApp, Omneon, GreenPlum, Ocarina, and Bell Labs, and last week added former channel VP for both Fusion-io and Barracuda Ezra Hookano as VP of sales.
While I’m not prepared to write off EMC, HP, IBM, Dell, NetApp and the rest of storage industry just yet, he said the OneBlox architecture and its OneSystem cloud-based management system spell the end of the days of complicated, expensive and siloed storage. With the flexibility to mix-and-match drive types (SATA and SAS) for performance and capacity within a single OneBlox appliance or within a ring of multiple OneBlox, Exablox states it allows organizations to purchase exactly the storage capacity needed and then add any combination of drives at any time to meet growing demands and automatically pool the storage within the same global file system. Throw in OneBlox’s inline deduplication and storage waste is minimized.
According to an Enterprise Strategy Group survey of over 400 IT professionals at midmarket (100 to 999 employees) and enterprise (more than 1,000 employees) organizations, the rapid growth and management of unstructured data was cited by the largest percentage of respondents as their primary storage challenge over any other storage issue facing IT. “It is pretty clear that doing ‘more of the same’ when it comes to storing unstructured data just isn’t going to cut it,” wrote ESG’s Terri McClure, Senior Analyst, in a report last year.
“Vendors like Exablox are out there with innovative technology that is designed for the unstructured data challenges IT faces today, not the challenges it faced twenty or thirty years ago. And Exablox has an architecture and price point that make it reasonable to bring in as an alternative storage platform to keep the big guys honest. It is a new vendor with new technology, but if it is as easy to use and manage, and functions and performs as promised, those “tire kicker” installations have the potential to grow into something much more.”
Companies are frustrated by being forced into expensive storage products made unbearably complex by layers of bolt-on technologies, when they simply want the solution to address their business needs, said Brockett. “We’ve found a way to make consumer drives and core… technology to deliver enterprise-class features and performance in an easy-to-manage package.”
Exablox wants to give people storage that they understand, he said. “Our goal is to try and take the pain out of storage.”