What is our primary use case?
We have several use cases for this product. Zadara provides the hardware and we build our services that are hosted on it.
They are responsible for building out the cloud hardware infrastructure and for us, it's a number of nodes and a number of disks attached to those nodes, with compute to manage everything. It also includes network infrastructure like switches for our data center.
They shipped all of the hardware to us, we installed it, and then we began to provide services with the support of Zadara. They share responsibility in management, providing the monitoring and management and the backend operations.
In some cases, we have just sold pure storage to our partners and customers. In other cases, what we provide is Infrastructure as a Service, which includes compute off of another platform that we have that isn't from Zadara, and the backend storage is with Zadara.
We also provide other services, including Backup as a Service. We provide the service with Veem as the backup solution. The backups are taken from the customer's environment and put onto Zadara storage in our data center.
We also offer disaster recovery as a service, where we provide the compute and the storage for disaster scenarios. A customer can spin up their entire environment on the VMs in our compute, and then their data is backed up and snapshotted into our storage on Zadara.
How has it helped my organization?
Having dedicated cores and memory absolutely provides us with a single-tenant experience. We have use cases in both categories, but we have customers who have a completely dedicated and private environment and it is particularly important for them. For example, if they are dealing with medical or patient data then they have a dedicated core and a dedicated disk, which is essentially their own private cloud.
It is important that we also have the flexibility for some of the lower-end services that we can have multi-tenant storage because not all of our clients require completely dedicated cores and disk space.
It is very important to us that Zadara provides various drive options because we're more of a niche cloud player, and we don't compete with Azure, AWS, or other large providers. We tend to have bespoke solutions, so having the different drive options gives us the flexibility we need to do that.
Zadara has improved our business with the main benefit being that we generate quite a bit of revenue every month from the services that we provide others, and I don't think that would have been possible without this product. What really attracted us to Zadara was the fact that they have the pay as you grow model.
As a new cloud provider, say three years ago, it would have been quite a large investment for us to take on. Not just in the hardware but also in the skills and the knowledge required to set up and operate it. Zadara was a key enabler for us to be able to enter the cloud business because if it wasn't for them, it would have taken us a lot longer. We would have had to invest in more people and as well in more hardware. As it is now, we are generating revenue and it gives us some credibility with our larger customer base.
Although we only use cloud storage services, Zadara is an agile solution that offers compute and networking, as well. This agility means that they are very quick at turning things around, which is key for us because we're able to implement solutions for customers quite quickly. Ultimately, we can start bringing in revenue for sales quite fast, as opposed to some of our traditional business.
If you take fiber, for example, it could take up to three months to realize the value of the sale before it actually starts to build. Whereas with Zadara, it is so agile and so quick and easy to set up that even in a few days, we can turn a sale around into billing. This quick conversion from sale to revenue is also important for the business.
We didn't have a cloud before we had Zadara so, in that regard, it has increased our performance by 100%. In fact, we have been able to redeploy people and budgets to more strategic projects because it helped us to enter the cloud environment and to offer new services to our customers.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the different tiers of storage, as it allows us to do some nice bespoke things. Depending on what the customer wants to do, we can provide those three different tiers of storage. This is good because we can be competitive with the pricing so that we're not overselling the high-end storage every time.
A nice feature is the immutable object storage, which can be used in conjunction with Veeam. This was something that they brought out more than a year ago and is quite nice, in particular for our customers who are using our Backup as a Service. This is a USP that we have at the moment.
The ability to take almost instant snapshots is very attractive for us because we are able to expand. Currently, we have one cluster in our data center and we're going to build out a second multi-zone environment in another data center. The snapshots are attractive because we've got very high-speed, dark fiber between those two locations. It means that we can do almost real-time replication between Zadara centers, which will allow us to create some really nice solutions for our customers, particularly for disaster recovery.
It is important that Zadara supports multiple protocols, although, for some of our customers, it's completely over their heads. From the cloud engineers' perspective, it is very important because they are able to architect the solutions in the way that they wish. I wouldn't necessarily say that it is a key USP when we go to customers, however.
It is an advantage that this product integrates with all of the public cloud providers and private clouds, although it isn't the highest thing on our priority list.
What needs improvement?
It was a pity that Zadara didn't offer compute services three years ago because we had to invest in a completely different platform. It would have been nice to have the whole service from Zadara. While they have launched their offering now, it was just a bit too late because we had already made the investment.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Zadara Storage Cloud for approximately three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability-wise, it's very solid and we've had no issues.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have dozens of customers and I cannot easily estimate the scale of their usage. With respect to our organization, there are many people who use Zadara, and the roles are varied.
Starting from the front end, we have the salespeople that are out there trying to sell our cloud services, and supporting them are the solution architects. The solution architects will be deeper into the technology and they help to design solutions. For example, they scope out opportunities and gather requirements. Often, they interact with Zadara to ask questions and for help to design certain bespoke solutions.
Then, working backward, there are the senior cloud engineers and they would typically get deeper involved in the design of the customer's environment. They would also then do any of the complex builds.
There is also a team of what we call tier-two Net Apps. These are engineers that set up the customer's environment, in particular for the more standard configurations.
Finally, there is the NOC, who monitors the platform and takes any calls from customers if there were ever any issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
Anytime we have any questions or we need support, they always have very senior people that are there and willing to help us.
The fact that the cloud services come with 24/7 management is something that's critical for us. For example, the team at Zadara has highlighted issues to us before we've noticed them or highlighted potential issues before they become issues. This gives us that confidence to backend our SLA to our customers on the service that we're getting from Zadara.
Having this level of support and their expertise has made it easier for our NOC, as well. While we have senior cloud engineers, we didn't need to train all of the lower-level engineers and then the NOC team to be experts in this product. If there's ever an issue with us, we have that support of Zadara in the background.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did not have another similar solution before Zadara.
How was the initial setup?
I was not with the company when it was deployed, but through feedback from the people who were, my understanding is that the initial setup was very straightforward.
The deployment process took only a few days.
What about the implementation team?
Zadara worked with the team during the initial setup, and I can see it now as we're about to deploy another zone. They helped the team to define what it is that they actually need and really bring a lot of knowledge to us, helping to design the solution.
Zadara takes a lot of things into consideration, like the networking that's available, issues like latency, and what kind of environment it is going into. Then, they put together the design themselves, and then they sent over all the equipment to our data center. From there, they walked through everything with the engineers, including the physical setup, and they would have done all the testing and everything to make sure that it was all working sufficiently and before it was brought live.
What was our ROI?
Although it is difficult for me to estimate ROI, I can say that it's a pay as you grow model, so we haven't had to make a large investment in storage-related hardware. It means that anything that we have and anything that we paid Zadara for, we're making revenue from a customer.
To be clear, we will only implement storage for a customer once we have them. In this regard, given that we have had to invest very little, the return has been very large.
I can't say it saved us money because we didn't have this service before Zadara, but if we had to invest ourselves then it would have cost us a lot of money. Assuming that we would have broken even on the hardware by this point, three years later, when you consider the support and other factors, it would probably take a lot longer.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing is relatively straightforward. There are a lot of different combinations and permutations and so on, but I think that's just more the nature of the business rather than something that is Zadara-specific.
It is a nice licensing model and it makes it quite simple because we just pay for what we use, and the bill that comes shows us exactly what customers are using what resources. It is very standard and straightforward.
Cost-wise, because it's a pay-per-use model, it may ultimately end up costing us more in the long run than something we developed ourselves.
What other advice do I have?
This solution can be configured for on-premises, co-location, and cloud, although the option is not as relevant to our use cases. We've never used the on-premise solution and most of the time, if we're speaking with customers, they say they want to move to the cloud. As such, our focus has been on the cloud, primarily. We've never tried to sell this as an on-premises solution, or as a data center solution as a standalone. We have always looked at it from the bigger picture, which is that we're selling services off of our cloud.
This is a product that I recommend, in particular for organizations that are just entering the cloud market. If we had been offering cloud solutions for years, or if we'd been in something similar, we might not have gone down this route because probably over time, it'll end up being more expensive for us because it is a pay-per-use model. This is in spite of having very good discounts from Zadara. Again, for anybody who's moving, and is quite new to this environment, this is a really good way to go and to start building up your knowledge with that support in the backend.
It is important to remember that this product would reduce the risk as well. Specifically, there would have been a certain risk for us in taking on this new product in this new service area, requiring us to invest very heavily in it. Instead, the risk for us was lowered quite significantly because we didn't have to make that initial investment.
We have proven that it was a good business decision because we are making healthy revenues from it, but we didn't know that three years ago. Overall, it is a relatively risk-free way of entering into this business.
In summary, Zadara is a good product and they're fairly on top of the storage game. We're very happy with them and we have no intention of moving to another provider.
I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?