GigaOm Sonar for Storage as a Service Consumption Models v1.0

An Emerging Solution Insight Report

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Report Methodology
  3. Overview
  4. Considerations for Adoption
  5. GigaOm Sonar
  6. Market Landscape
  7. Near-Term Roadmap
  8. Analyst’s Take
  9. About Enrico Signoretti

Summary

In contrast with traditional purchasing models, in which users acquire hardware, software, and services, and manage the infrastructure on their own, Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) is a subscription-based purchasing mechanism that enables users to enjoy a cloud-like experience in terms of flexibility, system management, and provisioning for their on-premises infrastructure. Table 1 shows the advantages of STaaS over the traditional consumption model.

Table 1. Comparison Between Traditional and STaaS Consumption Model (Higher is Better)

Consumption Model

Traditional/CapEx STaaS/OpEx
Capacity Planning 1 3
Flexibility 1 3
Capacity Burst Management 1 3
Initial Commitment 1 3
$/GB 3 1
Overall TCO 2 3
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

Enterprise organizations are now very familiar with cloud consumption models, and they are always looking for new ways to replicate the advantages of the cloud to on-premises infrastructures.

For most users, flexibility is becoming increasingly important to their IT strategy and budget. The COVID pandemic accelerated a general transformation in IT processes that was already happening, making IT more flexible and agile, ready to respond to sudden changes required by business owners. The ultimate goal is to align IT spending to actual business needs.

From a technical perspective, it is now clear that hybrid cloud is quickly becoming 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 user experience. In some cases, IT organizations can’t adopt a full hybrid-cloud approach, perhaps because of specific industry regulations, particular infrastructure needs, or just company policy. For these organizations, it is becoming more important than ever to have cloud-like options to minimize the differences with their competition and maintain the same level of agility. In this respect, STaaS, or more generally, on-premises infrastructure as a service (OIaaS), is an option that should increasingly be considered.

STaaS, or OIaaS, is one of the many purchasing options available now. Users can adopt it as their principal way to acquire IT infrastructure, but it is more likely that most organizations will opt for a balanced approach depending on use cases and specific business needs. In Table 2, we take a quick look at the differences between the major purchasing approaches, with the win clearly going to StaaS.

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

Table 2. Purchasing Options

Key Criteria of Purchasing Options

Initial Commitment Final Cost Cost Control Vendor Managed Flexibility Channel Friendly
Traditional Purchase 1 3 1 1 1 3
Leasing / Rental 2 2 2 1 2 3
STaaS Model 3 1 3 3 3 2
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 cloud isn’t going to cover all their needs, especially when the infrastructure is complex and legacy applications that pre-date cloud paradigms are involved. The upshot is that the vast majority of enterprises are targeting a hybrid approach that can give them the best of the two worlds: flexibility and cost savings. In fact, public cloud is flexible but expensive, while on-premises infrastructures are usually rigid but with lower and more predictable costs. To meet users’ needs, cloud providers have introduced a series of on-premises/hybrid cloud solutions to bring their services directly into the customer’s data center.

While the cloud industry was trying to come up with on-premises solutions and answers to users’ needs, storage vendors reacted to make their solutions easier to manage and consume. Financial tools like leasing and renting were no longer enough to cover all the possible scenarios—and are actually quite rigid when changes must be made to the infrastructure. For example, they allow you to expand the infrastructure and add new hardware on the financial plan, but there is no simple way to return unused hardware. Additionally, it’s hard to manage hardware purchased at various times in terms of warranty, services, support, and system lifespan.

The storage industry came up with a series of improvements. Many vendors started to improve support plans by adding free hardware updates, which also helped to eliminate end-of-life issues with their hardware. This has been aided by the huge amount of data that vendors are collecting from systems in the field. The benefit to the user is evident, removing a number of complexities in system lifecycle management. With better control over system lifespan, proactive support made possible by analytics, and users becoming more confident about vendors taking more control over their storage system, the introduction of STaaS has been a natural evolution.

About the GigaOm Emerging Technology Impact Report

This GigaOm report is focused on emerging technologies and market segments. It helps organizations of all sizes to understand a technology, its strengths and weaknesses, and its fit within an overall IT strategy. The report is organized into four sections:

  • Overview: An outline of the technology, its major benefits, possible use cases, and the relevant characteristics of different product implementations.
  • Considerations for adoption: An analysis of the potential risks and benefits of introducing products based on this technology into an enterprise IT scenario, including table stakes and key differentiating features, as well as consideration of how to integrate the new product into the existing environment.
  • GigaOm Sonar: A graphical representation of the market and its most important players focused on their value proposition and their roadmaps for the future. This section also includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
  • Near-term roadmap: A 12-18 month forecast of the future development of the technology, its ecosystem, and major players in this market segment.

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