Infinidat ramps up ANZ operations

Infinidat says it can deliver high performance storage with only minimal use of flash

Israeli storage company Infinidat — which say it offers a revolutionary and highly cost-effective approach to storage — has named Newcastle-based IT services provider Regional IT and New Zealand IT services company Spectrum as its first customers under a revamped approach to the local market that has seen all its original Australian team, and its distributor, replaced.

Infinidat entered the Australian market in September 2015 appointing former EMC executive James Byrne as country manager for Australia and New Zealand and naming Arrow as its Australian and New Zealand distributor.

However a year later Mark Brown was country manager, and he announced Independent Data Solutions (IDS) as Infinidat’s distributor for Australia and New Zealand.

Infinidat CEO and founder, Moshe Yanai, on a visit to Sydney said that, when it opened its first office, the move had been a diversion from the company’s strategy had been to concentrate on the US and European market. “We thought that with a very small investment we would be able to get a good return, so we made a small effort. Now we are here as part of our global strategy.”

Brown said Regional IT, a small service provider of about 20 people, had needed to replace its legacy storage.

“They wanted 4x500 terabytes. Their environment was ageing. They had a full time administrator looking after that storage platform. It was unreliable and not giving a good customer experience.

“They bought two 1 petabyte systems: One in Newcastle and one in Sydney. They now have capacity on demand that can grow as they need it.”

He said Infinidat offered storage on a capacity-on-demand model where it would pre-install capacity and charge for it only as it is brought into service.

“We look at how a business’ storage demand has grown historically. If, for example they need 500 terabytes today and demand has been growing at 25 per cent per year we will install 1 petabyte. They pay only for what they use today and as they grow they pay additional agreed amounts.”

In New Zealand he said IBM reseller Spectrum IT had become a customer. “Spectrum is moving into the as-a-service market and one of the large government departments is putting its workloads onto our platform.”

He added: “We also have an international customer in the financial service arena that has deployed locally, and a proof of concept trial  about to begin at a university in Queensland for leading edge research that has a very large data requirement. They have machines that generate a petabyte of data per day.

“We also have Red 29 in Canberra, a service infrastructure organisation. We are working with them on opportunities with some very large Government departments in Canberra about our mainframe solution.”

Brown said Infinidat had a staff of only two in Australia and relied on IDS to be its “hands and feet on the ground.”

“IDS has systems engineering and sales resources in Sydney Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle. Their engineers have been trained up to the level of our entry level engineers so they provide our presales and general entry level technical resources across ANZ.”

Infinidat claims to achieve price performance for disc storage far superior to its competitors by using commodity hardware and very smart software.

According to Yanai, it is able to manage up to 672 drives from a single controller, and to use AI and machine learning techniques to optimise performance  Also, he claims that the company is able to provide high levels of performance with minimal use of flash storage.

“Our innovation is in two domains: Very, very sophisticated prediction and a lot of AI and machine learning to see what needs to be in fast media. We have a unique way to manage the hardware delay of the disc drives… And we don’t use a lot of flash. We can get better performance with only 5 percent of the storage being flash.”

He added: “Some analysts will tell you there is no future in mechanical storage, but mechanical devices are much cheaper per terabyte, 10-20 times cheaper. So the trick is to overcome the mechanical delay.”

Yanai is a superstar of the storage industry, credited with turning EMC from a failing manufacturer of minicomputer memory boards into a multibillion dollar storage behemoth. He has founded multiple storage companies, retired several times and returned to start another. Infinidat, founded in 2010 is the latest.

He told a press briefing in Sydney that Infinidat had been formed because there was an inflexion point in the market for storage technology created by the demands of data analytics. “We needed to be very aggressive to provide the reliability at a fraction of the cost and at scale,” he said

“Software-defined storage and all-flash arrays do not work. AFA is too expensive and SDS becomes very complex and more expensive at very large capacities. They are very good at 40 of 50 terabytes but when you go to build  into petabytes we are better.”

Infinidat’s flagship customer is BT, which Yanai said had looked at 34 storage vendors before opting for Infinidat.

“BT is unique because they do everything with us: their billing, their ERP and their storage-as-service that they are selling in many countries. They have more than 80 petabytes, all around the world.”

Infinidat’s strategy, he said, was to focus on customers with the highest storage requirements. “Our systems start at 250 terabytes, but with compression they could get as much as 750 terabytes.”

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