Technologies regularly come along that prompt enterprises to re-do their existing data center infrastructure. Whether it is improved performance, lower costs, more flexibility, improved revenue opportunities, or some combination of all of these factors, they drive enterprises to update or change the technologies they use to support their business.
But every now and then a technology comes along that prompts enterprises to a complete do-over of their existing data center infrastructures. This type of dramatic change is already occurring within organizations of all sizes who are adopting and implementing SimpliVity.
Hyper-converged infrastructures have had my attention for some time now. Combining servers, storage, networking, virtualization, and data protection into a single solution and delivering it as an easy-to-manage and scale appliance or software solution, hyper-converged infrastructures minimally struck me as novel and even disruptive for small and midsized business (SMB) environment. But as enterprise play … well, let’s just say I was more than a bit dubious.
That viewpoint changed after attending SimpliVity Connect last week in San Francisco. An intimate event with maybe 30 people attending (including SimpliVity employees, partners, and customers along with some analysts and press,) I had unfettered access to the people within SimpliVity making the decisions and building the product as well as partners and customers who were responsible for implementing and supporting SimpliVity’s OmniStack Technology.
Unlike too many analyst events where I sometimes sense customers, partners, and even the vendor feel obligated to curtail their answers or refrain from commenting, I saw very little of that at this event. If anything, when I challenged the customers on why they make the decision they did to implement SimpliVity, or partners on why they elected to recommend SimpliVity over traditional distributed architectures (servers, storage, and networking,) their answers were surprisingly candid and unrestrained.
One customer I spoke to at length over dinner was Blake Soiu, the IT director of Interland Corp, who thought at the outset that SimpliVity was simply too good to be true. After all, it promised to deliver servers, storage, networking, data protection, virtualization, and disaster recovery (<- yes, disaster recovery!) for less than what he would spend on refreshing his existing distributed architecture. Further, a refresh of his distributed architecture would only include the foundation for DR but not an actual working implementation of it. By choosing SimpliVity, he allegedly would also get DR.
Having heard promises like this in the past, his skepticism was palpable. But after testing SimpliVity’s product in his environment with his applications and then sharing the financial and technical benefits with Interland’s management team, the decision to switch to SimpliVity became remarkably easy to make.
As he privately told me over dinner, the primary concerns of the CEO and CFO are making money. The fact that they could lower their costs, improve the availability and recoverability of the applications in their infrastructures, and lower their risks was all that it took to convince them. On his side, he has realized a significant improvement in the quality of his life with the luxury of going home without being regularly called out. Further, he has a viable and working DR solution that was included as part of the overall implementation of SimpliVity.
Equally impressive were the responses from some of the value added resellers in attendance. One I spoke to at length was Ken Payne, the CTO of Abba Technologies. Abba was a former (and maybe still is) an EMC reseller that offers SimpliVity as part of its product portfolio. However, Abba does more than offer technology products and services, it also consumes them as part of its CloudWorks offering.
Resellers such as Abba have a lot on the line, especially when they have partnerships like providers such as EMC. However, in their evaluation of SimpliVity for both their internal use and as a potential offering to their customers, Payne felt like Abba almost had no choice but to adopt it to stay at the front end of the technology curve though it was difficult to say the least. He says, “It is akin to throwing out everything you ever knew and believed in about IT and starting over.”
Abba has since brought SimpliVity in-house to use as the foundation of its cloud offering and is offering it to his customers. The benefits from using SimpliVity have been evident almost from the outset. One of Abba’s customers, after using SimpliVity for three months, finally gave up on trying to monitor the status of backups using SimpliVity’s native data protection feature.
However, he gave up not because they failed all of the time. Rather, they never failed and he was wasting his time monitoring them. On the status of Abba using SimpliVity internally, Payne says, “The amount of time that Abba spends managing and monitoring its own infrastructure has dropped from 45 percent to five percent. On some weeks, it is zero.”
To suggest a do-over of how one does everything is never easy and, to do it successfully, requires a certain amount of faith and, at this stage, a high degree of technical aptitude and appreciation of how complex today’s distributed environments truly are. In spite of these obstacles, organizations such Interland Corp and Abba Technologies are making this leap forward and executing upon do-overs of their data center infrastructures to simplify them, lower their costs, and get new levels of flexibility and opportunities to scale that existing distributed architectures could not easily provide.
But perhaps more impressive is the fact that SimpliVity is already finding its way into Global 50 enterprise accounts and displacing working, mission-critical applications. These types of events suggest that SimpliVity is ready for more than do-overs in SMB or even small and midsized enterprise (SME) data centers. It tells me that leading-edge, large enterprises are ready for this type of do-over in their data center infrastructures and have the budget and, maybe more importantly, the fortitude and desire to do so.