We are a recognized software-defined leader with the experience of deploying petabyte-scale storage systems for hundreds of customers. As one of the earliest providers of software-defined storage, with more than 8 years of experience, we have developed strong expertise and knowledge on how to successfully implement SDS on various brands and models of standard servers. The time had come for Scality to share this experience with our prospects, partners, and customers through our new Fast Track program. A holistic change to our customer experience, and a culture shift for Scality crew members! Let me explain.
Software-defined Storage Goes Mainstream: Leveraging the Experts
When we started 8 years ago, we had one promise: that our customers would be able to use our solution with any hardware they wanted, mixing and matching standard servers. We guaranteed freedom of choice in the storage world, a unique opportunity throughout an industry previously dominated by appliance form factor, with uncompetitive economics and forced forklift upgrades imposed on customers.
The market has since acknowledged that software-defined storage is the way forward. Software-defined storage requires new ways of thinking about how we install, operate and extend large storage pools. Implementing SDS well can have a dramatic impact on the way customers and partners run their businesses, ultimately lowering their costs.
Our extensive understanding of various industry needs gained through solid partnerships with long-term clients, and working on many use cases from archive to video-on-demand or cloud services has given us the experience to make strong recommendations and formulate guidelines for our clients. Late in 2016, we felt it was time for a mind-set shift. It was not about going out of our way to take any freedom away from customers, but going out of our way to recommend the best way of implementing software-defined storage. Because that’s what we are experts at!
And that is not only a holistic change to our customer experience, but a culture shift for us. While we remain the leading experts who can provide fine-grain tuning to specific workloads, we also want to recommend a simpler and faster path to the ones among our customers who care first and foremost about speed to collect the main benefits of software-defined: performance and lowest TCO at scale.
For Scality crew members, Fast Track is THE corporate initiative of the year for 2017. After assessing every step of our customer life cycle and collected suggestions from customers, partners and team members, we assigned a Fast Track cross-functional lead and secured the commitment of key stakeholders to design and execute on this initiative. Initial returns are excellent and we are now ready for a full power roll-out.
Fast Track: How Much Simpler and Faster is it?
Think about getting a new digital camera. It can sometimes be daunting to understand which setting to use, as this depends on the image you are trying to shoot, the light, the camera, the lens itself… To help new users, all modern cameras have pre-programmed modes. These programs adjust settings on the user’s behalf to achieve as close to perfect a result as possible in pre-defined conditions (night light, sports pictures, etc.). These programs will not replace manual fine grain tuning, but provide excellent fit to the context they’re designed for… and better results than most users would have been able to achieve on their own. In addition, one can always turn the programs off and go back to “Manual” mode at any point in time.
Scality Fast track works in the same way. We’ve gone from every installation project designed with fine-grain tuning to every detail of customers’ workloads and environments, to pre-packaged recommendations based on your use case and preferred server vendor. And once your project is launched quickly thanks to Fast Track, you can always fine tune further your system leveraging our experts.
In order to deliver such a Fast Track experience, we set checkpoints all along our customer life cycle. A Fast Track customer is running storage serving one or several of our target use cases and application partners, on known and trusted servers, leveraging our hardware reference architectures. Under such conditions, we know we will provide the best results in the minimum time frame, but also set performance expectations properly and lower maintenance costs in the long run. Indeed we grant “support contract credits” to our Fast Track customers, because as they apply our recommendations they are indeed easier to support.
In addition, we have made specific Fast Track enhancements with our Strategic Alliances partners HPE and Cisco, as attested by “HPE Factory Express” (an offering allowing to stage the Scality Ring software at HPE premises prior to delivery at customer site) and our “Cisco Validated Design” (a series of detailed reference architectures which have been subject to performance benchmarking by Cisco and Scality jointly).
Implementing Fast Track does not mean we are ruling out our historical way of implementing our software-defined storage, including fine-grain optimization to specific workloads. While we expect Fast Track to become mainstream, our so-called Custom Track remains available. It delivers a tailored solution designed by our teams at Scality to fit specific a customer’s requirements. It’s a different kind of project, more like the “Manual Mode” on your camera. And we’re excellent at it, as attested by customers running our RING software not only on HPE, Cisco, or Dell servers, but also on SuperMicro, Huawei, Lenovo, Seagate, etc.
Our Fast Track objective is bold: make software-defined storage as easy to implement and operate as any traditional storage appliance. Customers can have the best of both worlds. We aim to have 75% of our customers on Fast Track within a year.
When we made this “freedom of choice” promise 8 years ago, not only did we embark on a bold, innovative journey, but we also knew that one day it would be time for us to give our expertise back to the industry and to our partners and clients that have made this possible. The time has now come, and we wish to share our experience by providing a Fast Track approach that offers a solution that we know will work best, saving time and money for our customers.