DataCore Software Corp. and Curvature Solutions forged a partnership today that can enable enterprise IT organizations to extend the life of their storage hardware or buy used equipment to reduce costs.
Curvature, headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, sells new and used server, storage and networking hardware. It also provides third-party maintenance, support and professional services to keep the equipment in use beyond the manufacturer's specifications.
DataCore's SANsymphony-V software-defined storage can virtualize the disparate storage hardware, creating a pool of capacity than can be managed from a central console. Most of the company's software sales have traditionally focused on new hardware or a customer's existing equipment, according to CEO George Teixeira.
Teixeira said DataCore has partnerships with small players who sell pre-owned equipment but none of the size and scope of Curvature, which posted more than $320 million in revenue last year, operates nine offices in North America, Europe and Asia and has more than 10,000 clients worldwide.
"They have tremendous buying power" to provide advantageous pricing on new or used equipment or parts, said Teixeira. "So honestly, it just changes the whole model completely from what we can provide to an end user."
Curvature obtains used equipment from end users, lease buybacks, bankruptcy sales and through the channel, according to Jeff Zanardi, the company's vice president of business development and global marketing.
Zanardi said enterprises typically make large capital purchases with a support contract that spans three years. Vendors then give the customers the option to upgrade or purchase an additional support contract until the product reaches end of life. He said the industry has gotten behind a product lifecycle of about three to five years.
Zanardi maintains the equipment has a useful life of seven to 10 years, which means enterprises are upgrading too soon.
Jeff Zanardi, vice president of business development and global marketing, Curvature
"Customers have gotten into this kind of rat race of continually buying equipment, paying for exorbitantly high support contracts and then being forced to upgrade," Zanardi said. "Our mantra has been, 'You shouldn't throw away hardware that's still meeting your needs or hardware that's still working properly.' We really fight against this whole rip-and-replace cycle. Companies can save tremendous amounts of capex and opex for support by just using equipment they already have and adding more capacity."
Zanardi cited an unnamed large commercial bank that he claimed chose the Curvature and DataCore Software option when confronted with a costly upgrade from a major storage vendor. The customer kept its Hewlett-Packard servers and bought DataCore SANSymphony V-10 software and 50 800 GB flash drives, 48 4 TB hard disk drives (HDDs), JBOD devices and Curvature's Netsure maintenance agreement with a four-hour service-level agreement on all hardware. The capital expense was $300,000 compared to a $1.2 million upgrade, and the operating expenses were also significantly reduced, according to Zanardi.
"Curvature is bringing a new pricing model to the enterprise storage market that's more favorable than the pricing models of the current legacy vendors such an EMC or a NetApp," said Roger Cox, research vice president at Gartner Inc. "One of the largest complaints we get from users is the high cost of service and support from these legacy vendors, because as a user, you're fundamentally stuck. Either you pay the piper in terms of more hardware maintenance or you buy a news system."
Cox said software-defined storage options from DataCore and other vendors have the potential to save users 50% to 60% on capital and operating expenses over a five-year time period.
"With Curvature as a partner with DataCore, they can sell the complete system to the user," Cox said. "They can do the service and support, so you've got one throat to choke, one number to call.
"Curvature wants to become and more and more of a systems company, and they're in this relationship to become a provider of storage solutions to the end user."
Henry Balthazar, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research Inc., said the challenge that Curvature faces is changing the perspective of conservative storage users that are accustomed to buying new systems or prefer purchasing appliances.
"Instead of going with rip-and-replace, I see this more as why not recycle and re-innovate? If you look at all the storage systems that are out there today, the vast majority of them are just basically x86 systems," Baltazar said. "Being able to recycle the hardware represents an opportunity to do almost the storage-less storage acquisition, because you can re-leverage these assets."
He said even x86 servers with slower three-year-old processors should be more than adequate for archive or file storage, other low-performance use cases and possibly test and development.