If llamas can stage a prison break in Arizona, then why can’t the struggling FalconStor Software try and find freedom by busting out to the hottest storage commodity? Software Defined Storage (SDS) is still in its infancy, said storage guru George Crump, Storage Switzerland. “FalconStor’s new FreeStor solution promises to mature the category in a hurry.”
By ‘freedom’, FalconStor means an approximate 2X surge in its ‘attainable market’, the market growth it thinks it can achieve on strictly product revenue, without maintenance or professional services. ‘With FreeStor and by targeting the SSD, Hybrid and Cloud MSP markets, we believe we can reasonably grow to $56.6 million.’
Originally pre-announced back in October by CEO Garry Quinn, following another quarter of declining revenue, the company’s approach is to let the data center adopt SDS at a pace that makes sense for the organization. “More importantly, this adoption can include the aggregation of existing storage assets, leveraging them as it makes sense,” said Crump.
While worldwide disk storage systems factory revenue grew 5.1% year over year to nearly $8.8 billion during the third quarter of 2014, the SDS market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35.20% over the period 2015-2019. SDS helps enterprises reduce storage infrastructure costs through efficient allocation of resources, which is the reason many large enterprises have added it to their infrastructure paradigm.
Currently, the key players are EMC, HP, IBM, NetApp and VMware. FalconStor can now add its name to the list of SDS wannabes that also includes Coraid, DataCore, Dell, Hitachi Data Systems, Nexenta, Pivot3 and RedHat.
Building on FalconStor’s ’15 years of innovation in virtualization, data protection and migration,’ FreeStor is ‘the first truly horizontal, software-defined storage platform for unified data services. Due to ship no later than May, the unified platform provides migration, continuity, protection, recovery and optimization for any storage environment through a single management interface – all for a single price based on managed capacity across arrays, servers, hypervisors, data centers, and the cloud, said the company.
Last year was an inflection point for FalconStor, said Quinn, during the 2014 earnings call two weeks ago. ‘Throughout the year, we’ve stabilized our employees, partners and customers with updates of our new products, discussions of new products on the horizon, and launching of a new FalconStor image and message #BEFREE.’
Talking about the upcoming FreeStor announcement, he said it ‘addresses the heterogeneous storage portfolio of just about every large enterprise customer. It addresses those all-Flash array and Hybrid Flash array hardware manufacturers which do not have a software stack or do not have an enterprise ready software stack, as well as it provides a solution to service providers both managed service providers and private Hybrid Cloud service providers who require a single pane-of-glass view into their customers as well as the availability for an easy and robust migration of data into their services offerings.’
Under development for the last 15 months, the underpinning technology of FreeStor ‘will update our existing installed base with technology that is now current, relevant, and competitive to those software point solutions that we see every day in our sales activities,’ noted Quinn. In addition, new versions of NSS and CDP, optimized backup and deduplication, as well as a complete update of all our host-based technology, all of this technology is included in the FreeStor intelligent abstraction core that will be available in the beginning of Q2 2015, he added.
As important as FreeStor is to the company’s future, a new pricing model should prove equally significant, Quinn told IT Trends & Analysis. The introduction of an annual subscription model – think VMware for storage within a disruptively priced platform, one platform, and one view at one price – will provide much greater flexibility, especially for MSPs and cloud hosts, he said.
Under the pricing scheme, all data management services are provided in an annual subscription-based price-per-terabyte model with 24 x 7 support and software upgrades. In addition, FreeStor’s increased deduplication and backup efficiencies improve storage utilization, reducing a company’s storage footprint, and WAN optimized replication and data movement can reduce costs by as much as 95%, according to the company.
We have traditionally been in the enterprise backup space,” said Quinn, “… and we want to get redefined as software defined”. With FreeStor we get repositioned into more growing part of the market, flash and cloud. We need to be growing at 20-30% year, not 4-5%, he said.