Interview: Rebecca Thompson of Avere Systems Discusses the Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Storage

Interview Rebecca Thompson of Avere Systems Discusses the Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Storage


Solutions Review interview with Rebecca Thompson“People were taking advantage of cloud compute saying– OK– if the companies i’m working with are concerned about me keeping data in the cloud, i’m not going to store in the cloud, but we’re going to rent the compute.”


At the 18th International Cloud Expo in NYC last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing for Avere Systems, which offers Hybrid Cloud Storage Solutions for enterprises who have A TON of data. Think life sciences, and organizations who analyze, catalog and store DNA, type of data. Rebecca sat with me to answer some of the questions that consumers and cloud enthusiast in the space may have about hybrid cloud storage solutions, and how cloud computing is leveling the playing field for small businesses too.

In your opinion, What’s the biggest driver for enterprise hybrid cloud adoption in enterprises? Why do they love cloud?

Rebecca: There are two reasons why people are moving to the cloud, the first is that, the amount of data being created from various applications is outstripping the ability of people to deal with it by building new data centers. So for example, Avere has many customers in the life sciences space that do genomic processing of information. The amount of data, information, created by processing one human genome is enormous– multiply that by thousands upon thousands, they are building data centers just to keep up with it, and the public cloud in this case. They use AWS, they use Azure, and it provides a low cost way for them to store all of this data without having to build new data centers, and it also provides researchers a platform that they can collaborate on. You may have multiple researchers from various locations collaborating on the same data set.

What do you find to be the biggest objection to cloud adoption by enterprises?

Rebecca: So, probably the biggest objection to cloud– you know it’s funny- people will say they are very concerned about security, or that they’ve done the cross-modeling and it’s actually more expensive… however when you dig down deep, you really have IT people who are very nervous about their jobs, but how legitimate it is to be concerned about the cloud in general? I’m not sure.

We work a lot with the media entertainment space, so- special effects providers that do video rendering work for blockbusters, almost all are third-party special effects studios who do work for major movie studios. Well, there was a breach about 18 months ago, and so there came down a decree from one of those large studios that, all of the subcontractors had to go through a rigorous security audit and that made a lot of them very nervous about storing data in the cloud. And so what we saw, was that, it’s not about a weakness in the cloud providers; they were all MPA certified, they have staff larger than any company to deal with security, but what we saw was, in the life sciences people were using more and more cloud storage, and in the media space people were taking advantage of cloud compute, saying- “Ok, if the companies i’m working with are concerned about me keeping data in the cloud, i’m not going to store in the cloud, but we’re going to rent the compute.”

So we created a virtual instance of our product that sits up in the cloud.  It’s the same thing as our physical product, but it sits on top of hardware profiles within the cloud, and provides access to the compute for those file based storage applications using pieces of data at a time, and renting compute, and then bringing it back on-premise which was a great solution for them because of the way those work loads operate for movie making. There is only certain periods of time where they need that enormous compute processing, ( Summer blockbuster crunch times, etc.) so before the cloud, they would rent it– drive up with servers and massive power supplies. It allows some of the smaller movie studios to be competitive too, a little company in Sweden uses our product, they’re called, “Important looking pirates”, so they do all of their production in AWS. It allows them to be competitive and bid on projects where they may not have been able to compete in the past with an ILM.

Regarding Avere Systems- What differentiates your hybrid cloud storage solution from others in the space?

Rebecca: So what I think differentiates our solution from others, is we started in the on-prem. world, and we had a physical box which sat within the data center and it accelerated the performance of the network attached storage systems, so the net apps and WANs– it made that storage go faster and put flash in front of them, and we built a very robust highly available clusterable system so it could grow and expand with people, and was really enterprise quality equipment. When the cloud came online, one of the first things we did was add a gateway in that box, we added the ability to translate between file storage and object storage, which was almost like a whole different language, it was like going from English to Chinese– so we put a translator in these boxes to allow people to use this without having to change the format and rewrite their applications. That was a big deal. It turns out that, that format is the same one that cloud providers use. They built out their entire infrastructures on object storage… so those that had our boxes to improve the performance of their file storage, ended up using it to just offload excess data to the cloud, so that’s when they came to us and said, “Boy, you know, we’d really like to use the compute from the cloud, we’d really like to be able to do that.” But in order to do that, we needed to be able to create a virtual instance of our product. So it’s the same thing as our physical ones, we just sculpt out a hardware profile within all of our providers which are all a little bit different, but were the only hybrid cloud vendor out there that support all of these scenarios and all of them in a highly available and scalable way. So i’d like to think that Avere is solving some of the hardest problems for hybrid cloud, and making it possible for people who didn’t necessary think that they could do this.