This week we were at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas meeting with our clients in the Media business. Our media clients are some of our largest storage users and while we initially supported their NetApp architectures, our SimplStor products now have a strong following in the VFX business. Over dinner one night with our clients we discussed the main issues facing big storage customers (which are really every storage customer’s issues), the price per TB of storage and the availability (or lack thereof) of bandwidth to take advantage of cloud storage providers who seem to be in a race to become the lowest cost provider. This article in Storage newsletter illustrates how price competitive cloud based providers are:
“The new pricing plans did not change the amount of free storage available but it lowered the entrance fee enough to make customers more willing to pay for the service. Before the change, 100GB could be purchased for $5/month, now it’s $2, the 1TB plan is at $10 (formerly $50) and you can now go up to 30TB for $300/month whereas the highest storage space available was 16TB before the change.”
The price war for cloud-based storage seems to have taken the traffic from the big storage providers’ booths and the NetApp booth did not have many people in it when we went by it. But neither did EMC, Hitachi or any other big storage provider. Large storage customers are looking for affordability, and the big iron storage providers can’t provide affordable mass storage and remain profitable in part because of the costs of their large engineering and support staffs.
At NAB it became apparent that there is an emerging consensus that the high end storage only providers like NetApp are going to see some significant erosion of their markets by lower cost alternatives. The disruptive technologies of the 90’s are being disrupted themselves by commoditized high availability storage software. Going beyond Linux, the availability of Solaris ZFS and Microsoft Storage Server R2 on commodity based Cluster in a Box hardware is one way to cut the costs of storage. And our customers are interested in these solutions that can now be created and supported by a niche high availability storage company like Zerowait.
Our customers like our service and support model and the way we can provide a semi- custom solution for them at less than 50% of the cost of the big players in the marketplace. The internet and the ease of international shipping has created a global community of media storage users large enough to provide Zerowait sufficient customer base to profitably build and support these kinds of niche solutions. When people from around the world can easily work together to create affordable quality solutions everyone wins.