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The storage appliance will be built with commodity servers and JBOD storage using Veeam’s Smart Object API.
June 30, 2022
Veeam founders Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov hope to catch lighting in a bottle again with Object First. This week they launched the startup that has created an on-premises, S3-compatible object storage backup appliance.
When Timashev and Baronov started Veeam in 2006, they rode the then-emerging wave of server virtualization on VMware’s coattails. Veeam recorded $1 billion in annual revenues for the first time in 2019, and a year later Insight Partners acquired the company for $5 billion. Now they are taking another stab at capturing emerging demand for object storage.
Object First attracted attention at last month’s VeeamON conference, where word spread that the two were backing the startup. At the time, Object First was still in stealth mode and offered few details on its launch plans. With this week’s launch, Object First revealed that Timashev and Baronov have invested an initial $12.5 million in the company.
The appliance, which only runs Veeam’s data protection software, is the first such on-premises object storage system designed for backup. Object First expects to release it in the fourth quarter of this year. It will compete with object storage appliances from providers such as Cloudian and Scality. But Object First is signaling it will price its appliance aggressively by using commodity servers and JBOD storage. The lower-cost components will make it more practical as a dedicated backup appliance for mid-sized customers, company officials said.
Each Object First appliance will scale to a half-petabyte of storage, though customers can expand capacity by adding appliances. Although the appliances will only run Veeam software, Veeam and parent Insight Partners have no financial stake in Object First. Object First doesn’t have plans to develop appliances that can run other vendors’ backup software.
Object First’s Tony Liau
“With Veeam being where they are in the market, they’re tied at No. 1 market share with Dell,” said Object First VP of marketing Tony Liau. “Veeam has enough market share for us to be very successful. And we’re going to be filling a gap for a lot of the Veeam customers out there.”
Object storage is becoming attractive for backup because higher-speed and more reliable backups have become a critical defense against ransomware. It also enables immutability, which protects backup data from ransomware because no one can change the backups.
Object Storage’s Anthony Cusimano
“There’s no root access,” said Anthony Cusimano, Object First’s director of technical marketing. “There’s only one account you can login with.”
The company is also working on enabling multifactor authentication (MFA).
The value in Object First’s appliance is in the software, which the company said in the hardened operating system it created. Besides its scalability, it can pull in data at 4 Gbps with dual 10 GB Ethernet NICs.
“The way we connect is S3 over HTTPS,” Cusimano said. “It is strictly a generic S3 object storage type connection to Veeam. The secret sauce really comes in from how we’re managing the object storage on our end. And we’re also utilizing Veeam’s own APIs to write to us directly over that S3 connection.”
Object First has developed its appliance to utilize key new features coming later this year to Veeam Backup and Replication v12. At the VeeamON event, Veeam emphasized support for direct writes to object storage as a key feature slated for v12. Rick Vanover, Veeam’s senior director of product strategy, said the company has spent …
… years developing object storage support.
Vanover told Channel Futures that he received a test appliance from Object First and said it was easy to configure.
Veeam’s Rick Vanover
“They’ve made a big bet on the future of on-prem object storage,” Vanover said.
Object First is now one of 21 Veeam Technical Alliance Partners that have immutable object stores.
“We’re happy to have as many object stores with immutability options as possible,” Vanover said. “I think that is probably the single most effective thing the market can do against ransomware — is have the immutability.”
Veeam has created an interface called Smart Storage API for hardware partners. The API optimizes how v12 writes to object storage, Vanover said.
“We haven’t really messaged that intentionally because Veeam isn’t really the one to get into speeds and feeds,” Vanover said.
Also, because it’s not field-proven, from customer validated use cases, he added.
“But that will come,” he said.
Leading Object First as CEO is David Bennett, an industry veteran who was most recently president and CEO of Axcient. Prior to Axcient, Bennett was chief revenue officer at Webroot. Object First also plans to build out a channel program. Veeam and VMware sales veteran Vitaly Sukhovsky joined Object First last month as VP of channel sales.
Object First recently signed on two distributors: Arrow and TD Synnex.
“That’s the first thing because in distribution, the software’s loaded before the appliance is shipped,” Veeam’s Vanover said, noting the next step is to sign on channel partners. “The recipe is there.”
Partners Object First will initially focus on will be VARs and resellers, Liau said.
“We think that we actually are a really good MSP play with our product today, but in the interest of being focused and starting somewhere, we’re going to start with VAR partners first,” he said.
Now that Object First has come out of stealth, Liau said the next step is to recruit partners for its beta program. Initially the company will look to sign up VARs.
“We have a beta unit ready,” he said. “We’re just polishing it and making sure that we’re serving the needs of the customer as well. Because whatever we do in the lab, whatever research we do, nothing is as good as getting the unit out there and hearing from people.”
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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