Epigram rules — Qumulo hardware business exit interview

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” is a French epigram that means “the more it changes the more it stays the same”. At a quick glance such would seem to be the effect of Qumulo’s hardware business exit.

We asked Qumulo a series of questions about its hardware business exit concerning end-of-life, migration and upgrade paths and Ben Gitenstein, Qumulo’s VP for Product Management, provided the answers.

Ben Gitenstein.

Blocks and Files: Can you confirm please that Qumulo is ending the supply of its own Persistent, Cached and Archive performance class hardware?

Ben Gitenstein: Qumulo-branded hardware (P, C, K series) will continue to be available to customers and supported by Qumulo. We are simply changing the transactional model with partners so they can directly buy from our supplier — Arrow — and other OEM partners such as HPE, Fujitsu and Supermicro. This underscores our ability to give customers more freedom, flexibility, and lowered costs. We are not ending the sales or supply of the products, but rather changing the way the transaction is made. 

Blocks and Files: What is the upgrade and/or migration path for customers with these products?

Ben Gitenstein: There is no migration path needed for existing customers. For customers buying the newly announced Supermicro offer, they can take advantage of Qumulo’s Dynamic Scale capability to add Supermicro products to any existing cluster — which is a capability not offered by any other scale-out file vendor. 

Blocks and Files: Do supply deals for Qumulo software on HPE and Fujitsu kit remain in place?

Ben Gitenstein: Yes, we will continue to offer Qumulo on HPE and Fujitsu, and with the addition of Supermicro we are expanding our customers’ options.

Blocks and Files: Will Supermicro supply the full range of Qumulo Persistent, Cached and Archive performance class hardware?

Ben Gitenstein: Over time we will fully expand our offerings in Supermicro. For this week’s announcement we started with the initial offering of the performance class.

Blocks and Files: In what geographies does the Qumulo-Supermicro deal operate?

Ben Gitenstein: Globally — we are available in over 100 countries.

Blocks and Files: Why is Qumulo getting out of the hardware business?

Ben Gitenstein: In order to offer customers more choice, flexibility and cost reduction, Qumulo has made the decision to cede direct hardware sales to channel partners and focus our efforts in making a more robust software platform with embedded data services that help customers manage massive amounts of data across any environment.

Blocks and Files: Is getting out of the hardware business a sign of weakness? What other storage companies have successfully transitioned out of the hardware business?

Ben Gitenstein: From our inception, Qumulo focused on building a great software-defined storage platform. Early on, we needed to integrate appliances into the life of our software-defined strategy to ensure our customers’ success. Offering integrated appliances early in the life of Qumulo ensured great experiences for all customers. 

As the hardware ecosystem improved in the quality of choices, it became clear Qumulo could rely on our partner ecosystem to do this directly. Qumulo’s value to the supply chain is actually in our software. For example, we can get more performance and better costs on hardware platforms by improving the software (NVMe Cached technology announced in December of 2020). 

We have also seen extraordinary growth in our cloud services business, which enables us to invest more in Qumulo’s competitive advantage which is portability and freedom. We have the same code on-premises or in the cloud, which enables customers to easily move data across environments without refactoring or rearchitecting. 

Comment

It will be most interesting to see if other hardware-supplying storage suppliers endorse Qumulo’s view that it could rely on its partner ecosystem to supply hardware directly and have “the same code on-premises or in the cloud”. If they do then we could see others following in Qumulo (and Silk and VAST Data’s) footsteps.

Might we then see NetApp abandoning hardware supply? IBM? Dell EMC? The logic is the logic or N’est ce pas as the French might say — isn’t it so?