We have said it before and will say it again: The hosting business is tough. If your infrastructure looks almost identical to your competitors, you should be a little nervous.


As a mid-tier service provider you have pressure coming at you from all sides; maintaining business focus in a challenging market can be very hard. On one side there’s pressure from the “Big Three” (Amazon, Azure, and Google) as these big elephants in the room apply downward pricing pressure on the service provider market.


On the other side is pressure from smaller providers that can discount more deeply because they have lower operational and infrastructure costs. The good news (if you can call it that) is that there is a common challenge among all tiers of service provider, and that is storage infrastructure. It’s expensive, complicated, and quite often outdated.


More about that in a minute.


While the Big Three create noise in the market, the typical mid-sized enterprise looking at a managed hosting provider is looking to them for specific managed services like monitoring, OS patching, disaster recovery planning, and shared storage. These are services the Big Three simply don’t do well at small scale, or in most cases, don’t do at all.


For service providers in the $30m to $100m+ market, outside of direct competitors, often the biggest competitive challenge in the market is smaller hosting providers, often run by their very technical founders that roll their own “white label” hardware to avoid spending what cash they may have on expensive (but supported) storage platforms.


How do you compete in today’s busy market as a mid-tier hosting provider?

Well, it’s complicated, and storage is one of the key center-points of the discussion. As mentioned above, legacy storage issues are commonplace amongst service providers of all size and shape, being costly to purchase and even more time consuming to troubleshoot.


This is the point where service providers not running SolidFire storage should start to feel a little nervous.


Here are a few reasons why:


Reduced risk and exposure: SolidFire’s scale-out design aligns revenues and expenses.


Faster delivery of new services to market: SolidFire’s unique Quality of Service (QoS) functionality and API offer service providers agility in developing new solutions.


Streamlined operations: SolidFire’s management simplicity and QoS reduce customer support tickets related to performance and increases ticket closure rates, keeping customers happy.


Attracting new customers: Enterprises want predictable and consistent performance for their hosted applications. SolidFire’s self-healing architecture ensures enterprises get an always-on, 24/7 application experience.


I get it, but should I really be nervous?


Yes, and it’s pretty simple in that there is no other storage system on the market today that is designed from the ground up for service providers, or that can deliver all the same functionality that SolidFire can.


This means service providers that have already deployed SolidFire have a leg up over those who have not, and those still running legacy controller-based arrays are effectively running on generations-old technology. Those service providers are left without any ability to guarantee (and I mean really guarantee) that any workload can get a specified level of performance, or that they can completely remove the noisy neighbor problem from the multi-tenant array.


For more information on how to appropriately assess legacy controller-based storage check out this paper we created called “5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think.”


Enterprise IT is smart, and they now understand IOPS and noisy neighbors. They will choose a service provider that can deliver a predictable, consistent, and resilient hosting platform for their key applications — not one running ten-year-old legacy systems that are simply not up to delivering the infrastructure enterprises are demanding.


Are you running on something other than SolidFire? Are you nervous yet?

Read “5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think.”
Read “5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think.”

Stuart Oliver

Stuart is the Director of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Readiness team at NetApp. His primary role involves coordinating all channel strategy and readiness efforts that focus on the go to market success of NetApp’s channel partners globally. Prior to his current role, Stuart led all service provider go-to-market, product marketing and consulting helping provide market guidance on the productization, pricing and strategic positioning of their next generations infrastructure services.

Stuart Oliver has been working at NetApp (formerly SolidFire) for over six years and prior to SolidFire/NetApp, spent a number of years in product marketing and product management at Hosting, a cloud and managed hosting services provider headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He has over 20 years’ experience working in executive I.T. Management, Product Management and Product Marketing roles.

Stuart attended and graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the University of Denver in Denver Colorado.

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