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SwiftStack, a provider of software-defined object storage, has formed a partnership with Cisco to deliver object storage for Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) servers. The partnership delivers a turnkey enterprise cloud solution that allows customers to build public cloud storage capabilities in their on-premises data center, delivering the benefits of a public cloud while allowing companies to keep custody of its data.

SwiftStack 4.0, an object storage product powered by OpenStack Software, can now be integrated with Cisco Metapod, a production-ready, OpenStack-based on-premises solution that is managed by Cisco, and Cisco’s UCS servers. The turnkey offering provides large enterprises with a solution for scaling compute and storage on-premises for data workloads and new storage consumption such as for the Internet of things, a focused strategy for Cisco. The offering is available as a Cisco-managed service with Metapod or self-managed.

What makes the integration more interesting is that Cisco has new form factors, specifically its C3260 UCS, a high-density product with lots of hard drives, which is suited for applications like ours, said Mario Blandini, vice president of marketing, SwiftStack. 

SwiftStack’s solution, combined with Cisco’s Metapod solution, offers a private version of a public cloud. Blandini describes the MetaPod technology as an Amazon EC2, or elastic compute service, and SwiftStack as the Amazon S3-like object storage service.

SwiftStack, which only started shipping product about three years ago, targets enterprises that have data-intensive requirements. Think genomic sequencing and media content companies. Product licensing starts at 120 terabytes.

The benefits are way beyond cost, but that’s what gets people interested, said Blandini. As an example, the work being done in cancer research and genetic sequencing creates an immense amount of data, and as result, there has to be a different approach to doing storage, he said.

 “If you are a research institute and buy a genome sequencer, it used to cost $100,000 to sequence a human genome, but now it only costs $1,000,” Blandini continued. “They didn’t lower their budget to sequence. They are looking for a storage technology that has an order of magnitude savings compared to the classic way of doing it and that is what this software-defined technology allows you to do.”

You can buy hard drives for standard servers at a lower cost than a storage system, said Blandini. “Everybody in the channel already knows this. One of the reasons storage products have such high margins is because they have a high mark-up for the hard drives in a storage array.”

The solution is available to Cisco resellers. These resellers will typically be those that already have practices around the Cisco UCS technology.

“Cisco doesn’t sell a line of storage products per se, so this is a storage-oriented offering available to Cisco’s resellers and customers who conduct business directly with Cisco,” said Blandini. “A customer typically would not ask that partner to give them solutions based on storage technology because there are no such products in the Cisco portfolio, but if you can take software and turn a Cisco UCS server into a storage solution, it gives them more opportunity to sell additional things to the same customers,” said Blandini.

“Workloads in the past were very focused on specialty hardware, but now with the movement to software-defined it’s going more toward a standardized hardware and differentiation in software,” said Blandini. “In this case, customers who standardize on Cisco UCS servers for the compute platform can now also use that same hardware for storage workloads,” he added.

Although Cisco significantly lags behind the leaders—HPE and Dell—in server sales, the partnership with SwiftStack is a good fit for the relatively new company. In the area where object storage is consumed the most, Cisco is well-adopted, said Blandini.

Gartner reported Cisco’s server market share in the fourth quarter of 2015 at 6.1 percent, compared to HPE’s share at 24.9 percent and Dell’s at 16.7 percent.

Gina Roos has been covering technology and the channel for more than 25 years. A co-founder and executive editor of EPS News, she has also served as an editor for EBN, EETimes and Electronics Sourcing.