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Flexify.IO wants to make it easier for customers to adopt storage across multiple clouds.
The company's flagship Flexify.IO software provides object storage migration and virtualization in public or private clouds that acts agnostic to individual cloud APIs.
Flexify.IO does not store or modify customer data. Instead, it allows applications or data to be stored on multiple clouds and accessed as if it were a single storage source. No coding changes are needed for a user's application to swap between the APIs of multiple clouds and there is no need to migrate data off any cloud infrastructure as Flexify.IO migrates directly to the target clouds, according to the company.
Pricing for these migrations, however, is based upon the particular cloud providers being used as well as other factors such as a cloud provider's egress traffic fees and the chosen data center location. Users can discontinue Flexify.IO after a migration and access their data from the respective clouds they've migrated to as well.
Sergey Kandaurov, Flexify.IO co-founder and CTO, says the streamlining of APIs through Flexify.IO will allow users to take better advantage of multi-cloud environments to select the best price for storage as well as the access speeds needed for their applications, simultaneously avoiding the potential cost lock-in with the major public clouds.
Originally, Flexify.IO only supported the migration of object data from Amazon's S3 to Azure's Blob storage. Since then, however, Flexify.IO has expanded to support 20 different public and private cloud services such as Wasabi, Alibaba Cloud, Backblaze and Dell EMC ECS. Kandaurov said the company runs compatibility checks to add more clouds based upon client needs.
Flexify.IO was first prototyped in 2016 by Kandaurov and his two co-founders, Sergey Smirnov and Alexey Schepetkov, with 2018 marking the software's first public release. The company formed a partnership with Backblaze in early 2020 and the Flexify.IO software is now the data migration offering for Backblaze customers.
In this Q&A, Kandaurov outlines what made him and his co-founders consider multi-cloud storage a viable market, what sort of challenges their business faces for growth and how they see the services offered by Flexify.IO evolving.
What was the niche you saw Flexify.IO filling when you opened your doors?
Sergey Kandaurov: When we decided to start with some market research and the prototype, we had a realization that cloud storage specifically is becoming a commodity … Businesses, enterprises especially, would seek out multi-cloud.
They wouldn't like to stick with a single provider. They'd be looking for ways to use services from multiple providers and to move their application and data between providers.
We thought it would happen a little bit earlier but there are some factors, namely egress fees and lock-in companies create, so eventually we focused our business on eliminating any lock-ins for application owners, for data owners, that [major public] cloud providers build for them.
Sergey KandaurovCo-founder and CTO, Flexify.IO
We focused on helping companies overcome those lock-ins and be able to freely migrate data and applications between various cloud offerings.
How do you expect customers to use Flexify.IO compared to other software-as-a-service offerings?
Kandaurov: If someone is using Flexify.IO, they're not locked into Flexify.IO. We do not change data; we do not encode data.
We want to have recurring customers, but we also understand that at this stage of multi-cloud adoption, most enterprises just want to have a solution to move from one cloud to another. We do provide this service, but what we've found with some of those customers is they actually become recurring.
First of all, because of the first migration project they have more migration projects. It's basically like an Uber that's a one-time service since it takes you from A to B, but it's actually recurring because you'll have a need to move again. Same with Flexify.IO migration.
So, most of our revenue comes from one-time migrations, but it creates a market to upsell recurring features of data replication and multi-cloud storage.
What determines future partnerships and compatibility?
Kandaurov: We add features mostly based upon our customer requests.
Sometimes we have a customer come to us to migrate data onto Backblaze from another provider we do not support yet. We perform a compatibility test and add support for this provider as a high priority. The last one we added in this way was OVHcloud.
Sometimes we reach out to providers, sometimes providers reach out to us. We realized just adding support for cloud providers would not bring us a lot of business, it would just sit somewhere on a list.
For us, the main decision to support a cloud provider or not support a cloud provider is their willingness to actually market multi-cloud [support] or at least our migration to that specific provider.
What are some challenges Flexify.IO has faced in these early years?
Kandaurov: The first thing that prevents multi-cloud from wide adoption, and it's industry-wide, is traffic fees, especially egress traffic fees. … They become the biggest portion of your bill and that's especially true in multi-cloud environments. It slows down our growth.
Speaking specifically about Flexify.IO, we are still self-funded. We can't afford to spend big dollars on purchasing expensive marketing or hiring salespeople. This the reason we currently position ourselves more like a technology enabler. We provide technology to our bigger partners and those bigger partners will market Flexify.IO as part of the whole combined offering.
That's something we're looking to change, but at this point that's one of the biggest challenges.
How do you see Flexify.IO evolving and growing?
Kandaurov: We see ourselves adding support for more services.
We'd extend from only supporting object storage to other services, like structured data [and] databases, notification services. The issue is similar, different cloud providers have different APIs to their proprietary databases. It really prevents and complicates diversifying cloud offerings. It prevents companies from moving their applications to different clouds or picking and choosing.
The second area is we will work on top of the object storage we provide now by adding premium value to what providers give, like data deduplication.
Customers and companies are paying for storing that duplicated data but it's completely unnecessary. Some deduplication would enable some actual savings that's provided when you start using Flexify.IO.
Another related area that we see as a potential development area is copy management. Instead of making a physical copy of your data you could make a virtual copy, again saving on the physical storage.
We're also considering analytical features, such as when we collect and analyze statistics on how applications interact with data or work with data … again, optimizing performance and optimizing costs.