In our previous installment, we talked about how MSPs could solve their problems using FalconStor’s SDS, FreeStor storage virtualization solution. Whether in terms of performance, functionality and scalability or other aspects, Freestor is able to better meet the requirements of MSPs for the transition of cloud computing. On top of that, we can help them significantly decrease costs, leveraging cloud to manage their legacy infrastructures. So let’s discuss how FreeStor decreases operational costs for MSPs.
Try before you buy: FreeStor’s pricing model
FreeStor is currently the industry’s only subscription-based (Pay-as-you-grow) SDS solution for datacenters. Subscription-based means a monthly or yearly payment, made according to the amount of storage capacity that is managed by FreeStor. This means:
"Try before you buy; don’t like, no charge."
MSPs are highly reliant on flexibility for business development, and thus generally reluctant to raise the cost of the initial investment; rather, they opt for investments that allow gradual expansion and development of the business. Pay-as-you-grow models are most suitable for this kind of development strategy. Since it is a monthly or annual fee, based on the capacity usage; once the workload in FreeStor is on-line, there is no need to worry about other immediate expenses. If business development doesn’t move as quickly as expected, then there is no immediate need to invest in this section of the business. In an extreme case, where there is no really business; simple, no need to pay.
Forget the POC (Proof of concept).
There is another advantage than spans from the “try before you buy model” - POCs are no longer important. POC (Proof of concepts) is basically building a pilot system, to simulate various scenarios while the workload is online. Users are supposed to verify if the system is able to meet requirements before locking in their investment. Not mentioning the costly, cumbersome and time consuming factor of pilot environments; even under the best simulations, it is difficult to test all of the various situations and actual pressures and changes in workload in the real world environment. As FreeStor already operates “try before you buy”, there is no need to build a pilot system; your systems can be online immediately, and if it doesn’t meet expectations, you don’t have to pay. Thus, you greatly reduce time to business, allowing your operations to be online immediately.
No hidden charges.
One of the biggest headaches for customers in the storage industry is hidden costs. For example, selling cheap hardware under the pretense of "promotions" or "fire-sales"; allowing you to crank up a high-capacity distribution, fooling you into thinking you score a great deal. It’s only when you start installation and configuration, before you realise that many software features are purchased as an add on, charged according to volume used. At that point, you can’t just dismantle and return it to the hard disk manufacturer; you’ve just sealed your fate. All software features are subjected to the same subscription format. SO unless you increase capacity, your pricing plan is locked in.
Cost savings for hardware procurement: FreeStor’s 1 + 1 = 1
First and foremost, MSPs need to find a way to reduce cost, without sacrificing the premise of SLA. For instance, MSP often encounter requests like this: Two customers each require a storage array, each with 50% of the required resources. Naturally, the best solution is to fully equip an array, and then assign general resources to each customer. However, from a legacy point of view, this often doesn’t work. Because:
Two clients may prefer different brands of array;
For performance reasons, they prefer to monopolize the array;
For security reasons, customers do not share equipment;
If any user requires a temporary increase in resources, say 10%, the system cannot accommodate that. Increased costs (purchase costs, operating costs and management costs) for a new array cannot be covered with a 10% increase in charge.
Generally, MSPs will configure one array for each customer. Thus, the costs go up, which affects pricing on the customer’s end, making it really difficult to be competitive.
With FreeStor, you can implement a variety of features and services in a standardized array, so it doesn’t matter which brand is used; after virtualizing the array, you can assign it to two customers, while ensuring SLA in performance. Multi tenancy technology allows both virtualized arrays to be completely isolated.
In fact, few customers actually run their required capacity and performance to the max. It is entirely possible that there will be surplus of performance and capacity in the array. Therefore, when a small-scale expansion is required, it can be configured to meet the requirements.
Therefore, FreeStor’s programs can meet the same requirements without needing an extra array. This brings a huge competitive advantage for MSPs.
This example only look at two clients. Virtually all MSP serve several hundreds of customers at the same time. Thus, cost savings purely from hardware purchase is enormous.
More cost savings
FreeStor is more than just about the above mentioned points.
Reducing the hardware purchase not only saves you CAPEX. It saves power, server room area, both which will significantly reduce the direct costs for MSPs;
FreeStor allows for consistency in hardware management, which means, MSP can choose storage arrays with the best price, without any lock-ins from array vendors. This will give MSP huge advantage in negotiations with suppliers;
MSP wouldn’t need to purchase software license on the storage array, since all the management and functionality is provided by FreeStor. This saving itself often covers most of the subscription on FreeStor;
Standardized management of various storage hardware, reducing management and training costs of hardware;
For supporting a wide range of storage infrastructure, you can recycle existing storage devices and prolong lifespan.
We haven’t started talking about FreeStor’s powerful disaster recovery and data protection, integrated flash arrays, nonproprietary remote cluster, bandwidth optimization and other commercial value this technology brings. These technologies are highly valued amongst MSPs and general enterprise data centers, so we shall not waffle on.
Of course, for MSPs, the goal is not in cost savings, but creating revenue. How FreeStor helps improve MSP’s business model, to give them a more competitive edge, is our topic next week.