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FalconStor updates FreeStor, adopts new pricing model

FalconStor Software took aim at hybrid cloud deployments with a new pricing model and product upgrade for its FreeStor storage virtualization and block-based data services.

The Melville, NY-based software vendor now charges customers only for the primary copy of data – not the total storage capacity under management – with its subscription-based pricing model. The FreeStor software provides common tools, single-pane management and block-based services such as data migration, protection, recovery, and analytics for use with heterogeneous storage.

FalconStor CEO Gary Quinn estimated that 70% of FreeStor’s customers are managed service providers (MSPs). He said providers offer services such as backup or disaster recovery (DR) and want the ability to store an additional copy of their customers’ data in public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

Quinn said FalconStor’s enterprise customers have also been asking for similar options to move to AWS or Azure for virtual backup, DR and test and development use cases.

“It doesn’t really cost me anything to make a copy of the data or replicate the data to another location and manage it through the FreeStor management server. So our view is that customers should pay once,” Quinn said.

He said the list price for the FreeStor software, inclusive of data services, is three cents per GB per month to use on the primary data copy. The customer supplies the hardware.

Eric Burgener, a research director at International Data Corp., said he has seen pay-as-you-go models from other vendors but nothing like FalconStor’s aggressive pricing.

FalconStor changed the pricing model in anticipation of a new version of its FreeStor software, which extends support to public clouds. FalconStor added support for Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, Huawei and Oracle to go with its prior support of OpenStack-based deployments.

Tim Sheets, vice president of marketing at FalconStor, said, in an Amazon environment, the FreeStor Virtual Appliance (FSS VA) would run on the AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The FSS VA could either use Amazon’s Elastic Block Store (EBS) or present block services through AWS Storage Gateway (ASG) to load into Amazon’s object-based Simple Storage Service (S3) container, he said.

“You don’t have to go learn a new set of tools from Amazon if you haven’t done it before. We’ve already got the configuration set up to really simplify it for those customers,” he said. “And you also get the analytics, all the insights, through a single pane of glass with the FreeStor management server that you wouldn’t get if you had to use the Amazon or an Azure gateway,” Sheets said.

Customers could also use FreeStor to manage data across multiple supported public clouds or to move data from one public cloud to another, so long as the FSS VA runs in each cloud.

“I’m sure that Amazon’s not going to provide tools to leave Amazon and go to Azure,” Quinn said. “That’s what we’re doing here, the same way as if you wanted to move from EMC to HP on disk or EMC to Pure on flash. It’s just being done in the cloud.”

The new FreeStor software also beefs up external security with support for the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and Microsoft Active Directory for authentication, authorization, and auditing.

Other newly supported features include enhanced analytics to enable core-to-edge visibility down to the applications and service-level agreement (SLA) management, improved support for NVMe to boost performance and lower latency, and Linux 7 compliance.

The FreeStor updates arrive as FalconStor battles financial woes. FalconStor reported $8.1 million in revenue for the second quarter, down from $9.6 million in Q2 of 2015, with only $9.4 in cash on hand. But Quinn said at the time that FalconStor was making solid progress selling FreeStor subscriptions to MSPs, enterprises and OEMs.

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