Globally, StorPool Storage offers distributed block storage. StorPool is the ideal block storage option when building public and private clouds because of its dependability and experience in developing high-performance data storage systems. We’ve talked with Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool about the company and the future of storage technologies.
Could you please tell us about the story of StorPool? What does StorPool provide to companies?
StorPool is a software company which provides primary storage solutions for companies which build their own public or private clouds. These are typically different service providers, which come in many forms and shapes – cloud & hosting, MSP, IaaS, ISP, CSP, telco, SaaS companies. Sometimes StorPool is used by Enterprises from different segments where they need to build fast and reliable IT infrastructure for their teams or applications.
StorPool is focused on large-scale IT cases for demanding workloads. Its software turns standard servers and Ethernet networks into a capable storage system or directly HIC (Hyper-Converged infrastructure) where the customer’s workload will run on the same servers, as the ones used for data storage. This approach is recently known as Software-Defined Storage (SDS) and has many advantages to legacy storage array architectures. StorPool is the leading vendor of such SDS solutions when customers need reliability, scalability and speed, so they can stand out from their competitors and have rock-solid and blazingly fast applications.
You offer a fully managed primary storage platform. What differentiates it from other storage solutions?
StorPool is focused on demanding, mission-critical customers and use cases. Most of our customers are servicing thousands and sometimes millions of end users. Thus they require a product of an utmost quality, with high-end 24/7 support and SLA (Service Level Agreement). This is why StorPool comes with one love level of service – the highest possible – a Fully Managed service with proactive monitoring, control and issue resolution. It is above and beyond what is available with other vendors.
How easy is it to convert standard servers stacked with NVMe SSDs into high-performance, scalable primary storage systems? Tell us about the process.
This will depend on the SDS vendor, but with StorPool it is a straigh-forward process which our engineers are involved in to take the burden of proper sizing, architecture & design and implementation from the hands of the customer. We are the storage experts, so our customers do not have to be and they can focus on their core business.
What are the benefits of using StorPool for the companies building their own public or private clouds?
We touched upon this above, but we can summarize it to: unmatched level of capabilities and service for their workloads, applications and users, at a competitive total solution cost (TCO) points. These benefits stem from the unique capabilities of the StorPool solution and the fact that we optimize the entire IT infrastructure stack of our customers. So it is not just about storage, since with StorPool’s best-in-class SDS we can optimize the spending for server and networking hardware, datacenter utility expenses and staff too.
Since almost all companies are short on staff – we can not only optimize the salary related costs for the IT infrastructure layer, but also to unlock extra revenue generation opportunities for our customers. We do this by effectively eliminating cumbersome backend work and they can shift their tech staff to the revenue generating side of their business and grow it.
Which platforms are supported? How easy is it to integrate StorPool with other solutions?
StorPool is a leader in terms of Supported Cloud Management Platforms and various software IT stacks. We can service – and help migrate to and from – multiple IT stacks. Be it bare metal, Linux/KVM, VMware, Hyper-V, Kubernetes or the likes of OpenStack, CloudStack, OpenNebula, OnApp and more – we can service them from a single storage system. As data is consolidated in this storage system, we can reduce lock-in and allow mobility between solutions.
Why do growing businesses choose StorPool Storage? What differentiates you from the competitors?
There are two main drivers for this. One is that StorPool can scale seamlessly, starting from a very small system of 10 TB and growing it to many petabytes. And do it online – without service disruption and with workloads running on top of the system. Compare this to the usual solution available with other storage vendors, who have several types of system – typically a small size, mid-size and large system, but they are different product groups and you have to migrate data between them or get a forklift in the building, plus spend a lot of money on upfront hardware acquisition (i.e. CAPEX). Or their systems scale up, but now out. So you can get a large capacity system, but then performance becomes a bottleneck. And StorPool scales linearly in both capacity and performance.
A second key aspect is the pricing model of StorPool – we typically deliver the solution as a pay-per-use, on a recurring model (OPEX). So customers only pay for the data they actually store in the system. They can start small and as their business and data usage grows – only then their StorPool fee increases. So we are very well aligned to the success of our customers and their business model – if they make more money by using us, then we get compensated too. Which is unlike most other storage vendors, which would collect their fee upfront and then the user is bearing higher risk of not being able to utilize the solution in full. Or at best the user has to pay the full price even if they store just 1% of data and pay up more, till the time the system is well utilized.
Please give examples from real-world use cases. Could you tell us about your customers that StorPool helps grow?
Sure. As mentioned above we focus on delivering software, specifically block-level storage, which is used by sizable IT service providers. They use our technology to build private or public clouds which are extremely fast, reliable, scalable and agile. This gives them a competitive edge on the market in terms of speed of the applications/workloads running on these clouds, their availability and operational efficiency.
For example we do this public cloud performance measurement yearly, where we compare the leading public clouds in the world with some of our customers. The results of the study speak for themselves – by using StorPool our customers deliver services above and beyond what is available at other clouds. You can learn more about the measurement and the results here: https://storpool.com/news/public-cloud-performance-measurement-report-2022/
We also have a specific section on our website, where we showcase customer stories. It’s available for anyone who wants to see particular customers and their stories here: https://storpool.com/customers
What are the key components of a good storage platform? What decisions do IT managers have to make?
There are several aspects – fit, product design and quality, price/performance or price/functionality (and not just price), services, delivery – to name a few of the important ones. I often see cases where customers have not taken the time to do a good definition/scoping of the solution they need. So they end up with a product that’s not a good fit for their use case. This would be the biggest mistake I see on the onset of many projects. Get this point wrong and everything else is upside down.
And this is a tricky point, as you can scope a system by the parameters of the storage system alone, but a more holistic approach that targets business outcomes or application metrics is a good idea – this will allow to focus on business value and will keep the door open for modern solutions, which are doing things better, but differently compared to established traditional solutions.
So now that you have a good idea of what exactly you need to achieve, then the best approach is to find the right solution. This you can do through research, based on the result of the previous point or by talking to the right experts. For example at StorPool we work with our prospect clients in order to evaluate what they need and we often design entire solutions for them, even though we deliver just the storage component of that solution.
And we’d send clients to the right technology that we know of for their specific case, if it’s not StorPool. So we’re not a vendor that pushes to sell at any cost, rather focus on helping find the best solution for their needs in a consultative manner. And there are other such companies, so find the right partners.
What do you trends do you expect from cloud computing technology in 2023? Tell us about your future plans.
There are three large trends. One is the shift from hardware-centric solutions, to software-centric approaches. In data storage this means the demise of storage array appliances in favor of storage being run by intelligent software, running on the servers used for running applications themselves. This is the Software-Defined Storage approach.
The same is happening with networking and thus the rise of so-called SDN (Software-Defined Networking). So this trend in general is referred to as “Software-Defined Datacenter” or SDDC. So we are removing to a world of most value being in Software.
The second one is the shift from one-off CAPEX payments and perpetual licenses to pay-per-use, OPEX payments. This is a large trend, which changes how companies budget, buy, use and decommission technology.
A third large master-trend is the changing nature of the IT buyer. It used to be the enterprise. Now most enterprises go for their IT needs to the public cloud or other service providers – such as SaaS, IaaS, Managed Service Providers and others.
And StorPool is at the forefront of these trends, with a best-in-class storage software solution, used to build leading public and private clouds. Furthermore it comes as a pay-as-you-grow solution and it is very well tailored to the needs of IT service providers of various types.