Helping customers navigate a crowded OEM field to find the right solution

WWT has always been dedicated to following the developments in object storage. Seven years ago, WWT created a technology practice specifically dedicated to object storage. During those seven years, our customers' use cases have changed drastically. This transformation can be attributed to an adoption by both customers and the storage industry around the S3 API interface. This common access method has allowed third-party application developers and customer development teams to have a recognized programming standard to write in, even if that standard is not SNIA based.

Storage considerations: From cost to data

In the earlier days of the object storage solutions and adoption, the customers' focus was predominately around creating a lower-performance, lower-cost storage tier to house rarely used data content. While cost is still a driving feature of customers' object storage solutions, the use cases and feature sets have changed to focus on data durability, cross-regional data access and meta-data tagging.

WWT believes the future of object storage will focus on data analytics and data services. These services will be integrated into the object storage solutions at the storage layer with multiple tiers of performance within the storage cloud. These tiers may exist as a decentralized storage edge or in a centralized hub in order to take advantage of integrated storage services to provide real time access performance.

When conducting research on their own from sources like the Gartner Critical Capabilities report, customers come to believe that there is little difference in the rankings of the top object storage OEMs

Gartner 2019 Object Storage Critical Capabilities Report
However, this assumption can be dangerous because every OEM has both their strengths and weaknesses, and the success of a customer's decision can often be determined by the nuances between the different products.

To help customers identify those nuances and identify the most appropriate solution, WWT has invested into a one-of-a-kind set of labs called WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC). These labs encompass all data center practices and disciplines including storage, networking, compute, automation, big data analytics, security, collaboration and software development. The  purpose of the ATC is to help educate customers before they invest in the technology solutions.

Lab increase speed to decision

A subset of our storage labs is the object storage lab which is used to showcase object storage solutions and allows for customers to fully vet architectural proofs of concept prior to making an investment into the product or solution. This easy-to-access environment was designed to compare multiple object solutions in a simulated multi-site configuration. WWT helps customers simulate their production environments by using techniques such as WAN impairment to match site network specifics (i.e., WAN latency), as well as configure load balancing, site selection and load generation capabilities in a safe and secure, easy to remotely access, test environment.

In addition to the specific object storage solutions, WWT can cross-couple the object lab to any of our other labs to show interaction with other data center capabilities.

We frequently hear feedback from customers pleased with the speed at which they could prove and test object storage solutions in the ATC. With WWT's assistance, customers often can proof and validate a solution in weeks that on their own would take months.

WWT lab built to support unique use cases

The object storage lab is highly customizable to customer requirements and somewhat dynamic in nature with object storage OEMs and solution providers being periodically added or removed. The graphic below shows the more permanent capabilities and OEM infrastructure in place.

While the graphic above pertains mainly to private cloud solutions, WWT has also been able to showcase these solutions along with public cloud solutions.

Lab relevant for clients in all industries

The object storage lab has been used by WWT's largest customers across all lines of business -- public sector, commercial enterprise and service providers -- to help vet solutions and perform proof of concept activities. Some examples:

  • WWT was able to help a very large client prove out and select a solution with the purpose of bringing back from tape 100PB of seismic data and making that data always available.
  • WWT was able to help a very large Government Service Provider select and field an Object Cloud Storage and an accompanying ISV with the purpose of providing an enterprise file synch and share solution.
  • WWT was able to help a large Commercial Cable Provider test out and select an OEM to provide Cloud DR services for their customers.
  • WWT was able to help a very large insurance company choose between continuing to field thousands of remote office NAS gateways or move to an Enterprise File Synch and Share solution.
  • WWT was able to help a very large financial institution down select out of a field of six solutions tested in the ATC, a single solution to replace their network log repository.
  • WWT was able to help a large multi-national law firm implement an Object Storage tape replacement solution.
  • WWT was able to help a large Rental Car Agency select an Object Storage solution to primarily act as a Splunk repository.
  • WWT was able to help a very large Multi-National Analytic Software Provider select a solution to create a new NAS service tier.

In each of the examples above, customers selected a different OEM solution based on product nuances determined in part by testing performed in the ATC. In summary, the best solution is rarely as simple as fitting a square peg in a square hole, and this is further amplified when it comes to some of the more complex scenarios. To extend the "shapes and pegs" analogy, sometimes the solution the customer is looking for doesn't yet have a shape defined. It's our job to help the customer define both the shape of the hole and the peg needed to fill it.