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12+1 Reasons That I Joined Infinidat

How does an industry veteran - someone with 40+ years experience, the last 22 as a VP of Research at Gartner, find himself back working with a vendor? The short answer to the question is that I became a believer in Infinidat: its people, culture, vision, products, development and support capabilities. It also helped a lot that the position they offered me sounded like it would be a lot of fun. 

So, what led to me becoming a believer? I will walk you through my thought process by listing the insights, market and technology trends, and end-user buying behaviors that led to my decision to join Infinidat. 

1. Ease-of-use, support effectiveness, ecosystem size, cloud integration, scalability, and financials will increasingly dictate future infrastructure refresh decisions

Why it matters: As traditional measures of product attractiveness (i.e. performance, availability, local and remote replication, multi-tenancy support, et al) increasingly fail to provide significant product differentiation, they are being replaced by the factors listed above. Performance in RAID or erasure protected storage arrays is a more scalable enabler than a differentiator, in its own right.  Ease of failover and failback capabilities are now more important than differences of minutes per year in predicted downtime.  Ecosystem size becomes a form of risk mitigation and deployment flexibility. Managing fewer, bigger arrays instead of many, smaller ones improves staff productivity. Lowering ownership costs frees resources to improve an organization’s competitiveness.
Advantage Infinidat - By any or all of the following measures of product and supplier attractiveness: AFA like ease of use and performance with PB scale and HDD economics, superb Gartner Peer Insights reviews, non-disruptive data mobility (NDM), and near autonomic integration with the cloud, an NFS implementation that can store billions of files without performance imploding that could enable users to delay or avoid having to invest in object storage and converting applications to S3 or another RESTful protocol. Capacity on Demand (COD) and consumption-based pricing models (InfiniBox FLX and InfiniGuard FLX) that lower customer costs and risks.

2. Inertia, asset management policies, and budget constraints limit most customers’ ability to absorb new technology on a broad basis

Why it matters: With one exception, I’ve never spoken to a client that had more storage, staff or budget than they needed. I have talked with hundreds, possibly thousands, of clients that were pushed into infrastructure refreshes by high maintenance costs, performance and scale constraints, and architectural obsolescence. Large established vendors frequently restrict new features and functions to new arrays or delay the availability of these new capabilities to drive install base churn.
Advantage Infinidat – InfiniBox’s 3-controller architecture has enabled Infinidat customers to benefit from the functional enhancements and code optimizations that characterize new versions of InfiniBox software. We do not use new software releases to obsolete our customers’ investments in our arrays. Nor do we use expensive capacity upgrades or expensive maintenance to drive install base churn. Our focus is on growing the install base and satisfying our customers’ needs better than our competitors.

3. Today’s product advantages are tomorrow’s standard features

Why it matters: There is a growing gap between new storage arrays’ active marketing lives and customers planned service lives. New arrays typically have a three-year active marketing lives because competitive pressures and technology improvements demand it, whereas customers now frequently plan on 5 or more years of service for their arrays. This creates a multi-year window of architectural obsolescence risk, especially for customers of large established vendors that depend upon install base churn for much of the revenues.
Advantage Infinidat – Infinidat’s practice of allowing older (n-1, n-2 generation)  systems to run current software effectively protects our customers from architectural obsolescence for 5 to 7 years, or up to two times longer than our established competitors. And that is before considering the protections against architectural obsolescence provided by our FLX consumption model, which provides free hardware refreshes, and non-disruptive data mobility(NDM) between Infinidat arrays. With the addition of the Infinidat Elastic Data Fabric and transparent data mobility, customers will have immortal data without worrying about their storage hardware.

4. Unstructured data accounts for 80% or more of forecasted storage data growth

Why it matters: Data analytics and AI/ML applications need lots of data to provide useful insights and learn. The trade-off between IOPS, bandwidth, and cost often favors HDDs because these applications are more bandwidth intensive than IOPS sensitive. HDDs provide lots of low-cost bandwidth and capacity.

Advantage Infinidat – 25GB/s host visible bandwidth with our new F63xx, sub-millisecond latency, HDD economics, an NFS implementation that can store billions of files without performance imploding, and petabyte scale satisfy a huge percentage of the requirements for analytics and AI/M without forcing the customer to utilize the cloud.

5. Approximately 66% of data residing on primary storage arrays is stale data, meaning that it has not been accessed in 60 to 90 days

Why it matters: Storing stale data in AFA storage wastes money and is a luxury that most organizations can no longer afford. Deploying an archiving solution adds complexity to ongoing operations and D/R testing. Both increase costs, which can make hosting these applications in the public cloud an appealing alternative. However, if over time it resulted in the loss of critical IT skills, it could become a poor long term business decision.

Advantage Infinidat – Storing both active and inactive data in the same array with HDD economics removes or greatly reduces the economic justification for deploying an archiving storage solution, even as it delivers on the previously listed benefits of scale, performance, and ease of use. It also buys time for new technology to solve the archiving, migration, and cost problems associated with retaining stale data.

6. Clever software running a hybrid array configured with a massive second level cache creates a storage array that can deliver flash performance, HDD economics, and scale to petabytes without complexity by offloading data traffic between SSDs and HDDs from the SAN

Why it matters: InfiniBox beats AFAs on scale, economics, and protection against architectural obsolesce. It is competitive against AFAs [aka SSAs] on ease of use, IOPS, latency, and bandwidth. The only areas where hybrid arrays are arguably deficient relative to AFAs are in hostile environments, characterized by high vibration, large temperature swings, poor humidity control, lots of airborne contaminants, and dirty power: military vehicles, manufacturing floors, and edge deployments are some examples.

Advantage Infinidat – Self-evident in data center environments.

7. Disk will maintain at least a 5:1 to 10:1 raw $/TB advantage over flash through 2027

Why it matters: Implementing data reduction technologies down to the HDD tier in hybrid arrays takes away the ability for AFAs to compete with hybrid arrays on an effective $/TB basis because of the HDD cost advantage relative to NAND flash. Other risks to data reduction include the limited value of deduplication outside of virtualization, VDI, and as a backup target. The fact that server-side encryption and rich media (video, medical imagery, audio) is essentially irreducible eliminates the benefits of deduplication.
Advantage Infinidat – self-evident in data center environments.

8. Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations is eroding the staff productivity advantages enjoyed by public cloud providers

Why it matters: Tightly integrating AI Ops with an intelligent infrastructure will further narrow the skills gap and improve usable availability by continuously monitoring infrastructure performance.

Advantage Infinidat – InfinBox is an intelligent storage system. It manages data placement and performance tuning for itself, and per previous “Why it matters” insights, it’s a very highly available petabyte (PB) scale, affordable speed demon that has few, if any, surprise “gotchas” vis-à-vis competitors with ad hoc collections of dissimilar storage arrays or storage services.

9. Hyperconverged integrated systems are generally not being deployed at PB scale 

Why it matters: HCIs are providing users with very good ease-of-use and availability. However, they do suffer two architectural shortcomings compared to HCI or reference architectures: their inability to scale performance and capacity independently and their inability to cost-effectively scale to PB capacity because of higher hardware costs and hypervisor licensing fees.

Advantage Infinidat - InfiniBox’s near autonomic operation and quality software provide users with an ease-of-use that is competitive with market leading HCI solutions. A consistent sub-millisecond performance that doesn’t depend upon the locality of reference or internode bandwidth; PB scalability, and the ability to scale compute and storage separately without incurring additional licensing fees favors the Infinidat approach.

10. The perceived cost advantages of public clouds are eroding

Why it matters: Much of the early interest in the cloud was driven by the desire to lower costs and shift CapEx to OpEx. Today it's driven by early access to new platforms, agility, and scale. Cost savings has declined as a reason to move to the cloud because of competitors’ responses to the cloud and lower than anticipated savings due to variable costs, complex bills, and the relative immaturity of cloud data services.

Advantage Infinidat – InfiniBox’s COD and FLX consumption-based pricing models, AFA like performance, and ease of use, make Infinidat an easy choice for mission-critical and exploratory applications. InfiniBox’s scale and high performance make it possible to solve the ETL (Extract Transform, and Load) or integration problems that often plague data analytics projects by enabling them to easily share storage at scale.

11. Microprocessor performance improvements are improving faster than data transfer rates for  SSDs or HDDs

Why it matters: The delta between microprocessor and storage media bandwidth improvements gives scale-up storage an inherent cost of goods advantage relative to scale-out arrays by driving down the microprocessor to capacity ratio needed to avoid performance bottlenecks, even at PB scale.

Advantage Infinidat – Dropping the controller to capacity ratio lowers frequency of repair activities and advantages scale-up arrays because fewer controllers also mean there are fewer electronics to support - HBAs, power supplies, blowers, etc. - than scale-out arrays of equivalent capacity. This advantage generally increases with capacity because scale-out arrays frequently add capacity by adding nodes that include controllers and their support electronics. These and the environmental advantages of scale-up vs scale-out arrays help explain the continued success of scale-up arrays in the marketplace.

12. Hyperscale cloud providers putting their technology into customer data centers is an unmistakable indication that on-premises infrastructure is not going away and that hybrid cloud infrastructures will become a common deployment topology

Why it matters: it removes the illusion that large on-premises IT operations will give way to the cloud; that the relationships between on-premises and cloud providers will be anything but contentious for the foreseeable future; and that solid-state data centers are just around the corner.

Advantage Infinidat – Infinidat has created storage solutions with high product attractiveness and the ability to compete on price as necessary, a simple comprehensible hybrid infrastructure vision (EDF), and a highly satisfied customer base. Cloud providers entering the on-premises storage market accustomed to supporting relatively few data centers will have to invest heavily in their support infrastructure to handle hundreds or thousands of customer data centers.

13. Co-location facilities and consumption-based pricing models are giving organizations a cloud-like cost structure without the security and variable cost risks that are inherent in cloud usage

Why it matters: Co-lo facilities enable users to avoid infrastructure refreshes, upgrades, and/or replacements. Co-lo facilities also provide facilities on a consumption-based pricing model,  reduce the time needed to allocate space, power, and communications links to new hardware, and the ability to reduce communication costs for many colo clients and in the process reduce bring up times.  

Advantage Infinidat – InfiniBox’s COD and FLX consumption-based pricing models, EDF vision, Neutrix Cloud, InfiniSync replication technology, near autonomic operation, and use of standard 19” NEMA racks make InfiniBox  an appealing storage solution to install in a co-lo rack or cage, particularly if the co-lo facility is also hosting Amazon, Azure, or Google because it eliminates latency caused by distance and lowers bandwidth costs.

Conclusion: Time and economics are on Infinidat’s side because we are doing a better job in the important measures of product attractiveness, customer satisfaction, and enabling the economic transformation that gives a competitive advantage to our customers.

About Stanley Zaffos

Stanley is the Sr. VP of Product Marketing at Infinidat.
Prior to joining Infinidat, he was a Research VP with Gartner focused on Infrastructure and Operations Management. His areas of expertise cover storage systems, emerging storage technologies, software-defined storage, hyper-converged infrastructure, and hybrid cloud infrastructure. He's worked with numerous clients to develop messaging and collateral that maximizes the impact of their product announcements and sales training, as well as helping to define roadmaps that ensure ongoing competitive advantage.