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StorOne scales storage for free

StorOne's new Scale-for-Free pricing model, with its license fees per drive instead of per capacity, targets storage consumers that wish to use larger media for a set price.

To battle the rising costs of storage, StorOne has introduced a pricing model that gives customers a set software license price as their needs increase.

The Scale-for-Free model charges per drive, as opposed to overall capacity. Customers can use the densest drives available, HDDs or SSDs, which can raise capacity while keeping licensing costs per drive the same. StorOne also added fast auto-tiering, moving metadata to flash media to save on RAM, and snapshot anomaly detection to its product.

Charging per drive enables IT to take advantage of capacity increases while avoiding the hassle that comes with per-terabyte costs, said Randy Kerns, an analyst at Evaluator Group, a consulting firm in Boulder, Colo.

"Per-terabyte licensing is really annoying for IT," Kerns said. "It forces them to move data around to avoid additional charges."

Fighting against increasing costs

The way the storage industry factors the costs of a storage system is broken, according to George Crump, CMO at StorOne, based in Middletown, Del. The cost of storage media is decreasing -- even with performance in flash increasing -- but storage systems costs have not declined at the same rate as the media, he said.

Storage media continues to advance in density, with HDDs as high as 26 TB each, Crump said. Customers can't always take advantage of this progress with pay-per capacity, however, because they may use a set number of drives to get a certain performance.

Although the company hopes its model changes the way customers think about pricing, one expert tempered that wish.

"It is ambitious for a company the size of StorOne to come in and change the way the industry does things," said Scott Sinclair, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget.

Still, the Scale-for-Free model might get customers to think more comprehensively about their storage strategies, Sinclair said. Scale-for-Free reduces operational costs as users can get speedier access to more capacity, but users should also consider how to cut costs using this pricing model going forward.

StorOne's model will let customers mix and match drive capacities in the future, as well as let them add larger drives to a partially populated array for more capacity, according to the company.

Cloud consumption models versus Scale-for-Free

Companies such as Dell and HPE have released cloud-like consumption models in Apex and GreenLake, respectively. Large cloud service providers have their own storage models. All of these models differentiate themselves from buying an array and drives, but they are all based on per-terabyte charges, Evaluator Group's Kerns said.

It's hard to compare the pricing models from newer players, such as Dell Apex and HPE GreenLake, with StorOne's new pricing model because the services are new and flexible, according to Sinclair.

Those providing cloud-like consumption providers sell and manage storage based on capacity, Sinclair said, but they can take the cost savings of the denser media and pass it on to customers without changing how they charge.

"A company the size of StorOne doesn't have a massive installed base to risk with a pricing model this ambitious," Sinclair said. But it will be interesting to see the response from vendors that sell by cost per capacity, he added.

Risky RAID rebuilds

The benefits of the updated pricing model hinge on the use of denser media, including high-capacity HDDs, the company said. One potential area of concern with dense HDDs is drive failure and then RAID rebuild time; the larger the drive, the longer the rebuild time.

A drive failure can result in multiple days of rebuild time. StoreOne can rebuild a 20 TB HDD in as little as three hours through its software, the company said.

StorOne needs those faster rebuild times, ESG's Sinclair said. This goes back to its new pricing model and how adopting price per drive brings in other benefits. Reducing issues around larger-capacity drives results in customers being more likely to use them, making the pricing benefits of this model more apparent, he said. This can go beyond pricing and into planning future storage use.

The IT community must be aware of opportunities to push for better pricing as component manufacturers deliver higher-capacity, lower-cost media, Sinclair said.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

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