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GigaOm Sonar Report for Storage as a Servicev2.01

An Exploration of Cutting-Edge Solutions and Technologies

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Overview
  3. Considerations for Adoption
  4. GigaOm Sonar
  5. Vendor Insights
  6. Near-Term Roadmap
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. Report Methodology

1. Summary

Storage as a service (STaaS) is a subscription-based model for data storage that provides customers with a cloud-like experience in terms of flexibility, system management, and provisioning for their on-premises infrastructure. It contrasts with more traditional purchasing models by which customers acquire hardware, software, and services, and manage the infrastructure on their own. Table 1 compares STaaS to more traditional purchasing models.

Table 1. Comparison Between Traditional and STaaS Purchasing Models

Traditional

STaaS

CapEx OpEx
Capacity Planning
Flexibility
Capacity Burst Management
Initial Commitment
$/GB
Overall TCO
3 Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution
2 Capable: Good but with room for improvement
2 Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases
2 Not applicable or absent

Enterprises are now very familiar with cloud consumption models, and they are always looking for ways to bring that advantage to on-premises infrastructure.

For most enterprises, flexibility is an increasingly important component of their information technology (IT) strategy. The Covid pandemic accelerated a general transformation in IT processes that was already underway. IT became more flexible and responsive to sudden changes required by business owners. Close alignment between IT spending and business benefits remains the ultimate goal.

From a technical perspective, it is now clear that the hybrid cloud is the preferred approach for most organizations, and there is an accompanying need to rationalize and standardize as many processes as possible to enable a seamless experience. In some cases, perhaps because of specific industry regulations, particular infrastructure needs, or simply company policy, IT organizations can’t always adopt a full hybrid-cloud approach. For these organizations, it is more important than ever to use cloud-like options to provide the same level of agility that their competitors enjoy. In this respect, STaaS—or, more generally, on-premises infrastructure as a service (OIaaS)—is an option that should be considered more often.

STaaS, or OIaaS, is just one of the many purchasing options now available. Customers can choose to adopt it as their principal IT infrastructure acquisition approach, but most organizations will likely choose a more balanced approach that aligns the purchasing model with specific business needs and use cases.

The STaaS model is also attractive for local service providers and managed service providers (MSPs) who can quickly adapt their infrastructure and spending to the number of customers and projects under management.

In Table 2, we take a quick look at the differences among the major purchasing approaches. STaaS suits customers seeking maximum flexibility and consumption pricing, and those who are comfortable leaving the majority of infrastructure management decisions to their chosen vendor.

Table 2. Purchasing Options

Consideration Criteria

Initial Commitment Final Cost Cost Control Vendor Managed Flexibility Channel Friendly
Traditional Purchase
Leasing & Renting
STaaS
3 Exceptional: Outstanding focus and execution
2 Capable: Good but with room for improvement
2 Limited: Lacking in execution and use cases
2 Not applicable or absent

How We Got Here

Over the past few years, many organizations have tried a cloud-only approach only to discover that the cloud isn’t going to meet all their needs, especially when the infrastructure is complex and they use legacy applications that were designed well before cloud paradigms came along. The upshot is that the vast majority of enterprises are targeting a hybrid approach that can give them the best of the both worlds: the flexibility of the cloud and the cost efficiency of bulk on-site purchasing. The public cloud is very flexible but tends to be relatively expensive, while on-premises infrastructure is generally more rigid but has lower and more predictable costs. To meet customers’ needs, cloud providers have introduced a series of on-premises and hybrid cloud solutions to bring their services directly into the customer’s data center.

While the cloud computing industry has been trying to move its offerings onto customer premises, storage vendors have adapted their solutions to make them easier to manage and consume. Financial tools like leasing and renting were no longer enough to cover all possible scenarios and tend to be quite rigid when changes need to be made to the infrastructure. For example, although customers can expand the infrastructure and add new hardware to the account, there is no easy way to return unused hardware. Additionally, hardware that has been purchased at various times is often difficult to manage in terms of warranty, services, support, and system lifespan.

Fortunately, the storage industry has come up with a number of improvements. Many vendors improved support plans by adding free hardware updates, which also helped to eliminate end-of-life issues with their hardware and stave off competitive threats. This support was facilitated by the huge amount of data that vendors have collected from systems in the field.

For customers, the benefit of these improvements is clear: removing a number of complexities in system lifecycle management. With better control over system lifespan, proactive support made possible by analytics, and customers becoming comfortable with vendors taking more control of their storage system, the introduction of STaaS has been a natural evolution of how modern storage is done.

About the GigaOm Sonar Report

This GigaOm report focuses on emerging technologies and market segments. It helps organizations of all sizes to understand a new technology, its strengths and its weaknesses, and how it can fit into the overall IT strategy. The report is organized into five sections:

Overview: An overview of the technology, its major benefits, and possible use cases, as well as an exploration of product implementations already available in the market.

Considerations for Adoption: An analysis of the potential risks and benefits of introducing products based on this technology in an enterprise IT scenario. We look at table stakes and key differentiating features, as well as considerations for how to integrate the new product into the existing environment.

GigaOm Sonar Chart: A graphical representation of the market and its most important players, focused on their value proposition and their roadmap for the future.

Vendor Insights: A breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector, scored across key characteristics for enterprise adoption.

Near-Term Roadmap: 12- to 18-month forecast of the future development of the technology, its ecosystem, and major players of this market segment.