One of the most useful features is that they provide iSCSI as a service. That was very useful for us because it allows us to simply mount their storage into our servers and just utilize it as if the storage is local. That's number one.
Number two, their reliability and fault tolerance, is really unmatched. We were able to upgrade our storage, add more drives, add volumes, replicate volumes, and change sizes of volumes, all with zero downtime. It's very impressive.
These two features are extremely useful for us. The iSCSI as a service, as well as the fact that the system is highly resilient for fault tolerance.
We typically use iSCSI and to a lesser degree, object storage. We have not been using NFS, so I can't comment on that, but the fact that the solution offers all of those is certainly a big differentiator for people who are looking for those kinds of solutions. It means that they don't have to have multiple vendors or multiple systems to put together to support those different solutions.
For example, if I need to have S3, I don't have to go to Amazon or anybody else because I have it available within Zadara. iSCSI is exceptionally rare to find as a service and the fact that they support it is a major competitive advantage, and the same is true with CIFS and NFS. You would need extra plugins and extra add-ons from other vendors like VMware in order for you to do this, but Zadara does it out of the box, which is nice.
Zadara can be configured for on-premises, colocation, and cloud-based deployments and we use a mixed-mode. We provide our services in a cloud capacity but we're not in the public cloud. We're not in AWS or Azure, for example. We have our own private cloud and Zadara is working beautifully in this hybrid mode. They do have an on-premises solution as well, which we have not yet taken advantage of but we are planning to.
The fact that they can provide us services that are outside of our data center is of utmost importance. If something happens to my data center, I know that I have an off-site remote, either backup or remote system that I can tap into and continue my operations. The fact that they can provide me an on-premises solution, which is really the entire stack in my data center, where I need it to be low latency and high capacity storage, is certainly something that we'll be looking into. It's nice to know that those options are available from the same vendor.
At this point, we only use Zadara for storage, but we are about to use some of the other services. In terms of agility, the platform has been working flawlessly. All their SLAs have been met. We have been adding more storage, we have been upgrading from one engine to another, and all of that was happening without any kind of outage.
I would categorize Zadara as elastic in all directions for the fact that we can add more capacity on the fly. We can add more drives or more cache storage. We can increase the engine if we need to have it faster with more memory, or with more CPU power. The fact that we can do all of that with a click of a button and it happens, it's provisioned relatively quickly, and we pay by the hour rather than paying for it outright, allows us to scale without letting them know. It is easy because they don't have to provision special hardware just for us and it can happen fast. For example, if all of a sudden my business experiences an increase, I can react within the hour. Any change to the billing is reflected immediately.
Using this solution has increased performance in our environment because we can offload storage capacity elsewhere, which we know is infinite in size. This alleviates a lot of the headaches, it's been consistent, and it has worked pretty well. It would be difficult to estimate our performance increase because we don't measure it.
Our data center footprint has been reduced using Zadara. We have fewer storage systems today in our data center which means less power consumption, less environmental impact, less heat, and they take up a smaller physical footprint on the racks. I cannot say exactly how much, but it's definitely at least half a rack.
In terms of saving resources and redeploying people to more strategic projects, I can say that it allows us to support more storage with the same number of people. But, I cannot say that the next time I would have bought storage, I would have had to add another person. I really cannot make that kind of a distinction. The only exception I can say is that they are helping us in our West Coast data center because over there, I do not have any staff. The fact that Zadara is helping me with storage, certainly I can say that there would have been a staff member managing the on-premises storage locally. Instead, Zadara is taking care of that, leaving me with requirements for one less person.