Qumulo Storage ANQ Cold Image by Breenda Thompson from PixabayQumulo has expanded its Qumulo’s Scale Anywhere platform for the hybrid enterprise with the launch and general availability of Azure Native Qumulo Cold (ANQ Cold). The announcement follows the launch of Azure Native Qumulo in November 2023.

The new offering enables enterprises to, cost-effectively, and at a lower price point than Azure services, store and retrieve “cold” file data. Enterprise Times spoke with Ryan Farris, VP of Product and Product Marketing of Qumulo, about the announcement.

The key difference between ANQ Cold and Azure cold file storage is that Qumulo includes up to 5TB of data retrieval per month. The other cold file data solutions start charging for every list, read, of retrieval, which means that costs can quickly escalate.

Ryan Farris, VP of Product at Qumulo (image credit - LinkedIn)
Ryan Farris, VP of Product at Qumulo

Ryan Farris, VP of Product at Qumulo, commented, “ANQ Cold is an industry game changer for economically storing and retrieving cold file data.

“To put this in perspective with a common use case, hospital IT administrators in charge of PACS archival data can use ANQ Cold for the long-term retention of DICOM images at a fraction of their current on-premises legacy NAS costs, while still being able to instantly retrieve over 200,000 DICOM images per month without extra data retrieval charges common to native cloud services.”

What is it?

ANQ Cold offers three main features that customers can take advantage of:

  • Cloud-simplicity: ANQ Cold’s rapid deployment gets customers running in just minutes
  • Cloud scale: A single ANQ Cold service instance can scale to exabyte-levels of cold data storage
  • Cloud-reliability: ANQ Cold leverages Azure’s 11 nines of data durability

The platform is available globally. Prices do vary depending upon the underlying Azure costs. For instance in US East, the starting price is $2,487,50 per month which includes 250TB of used storage, 5TB retrieval allowance, and all write and API operations. Some write/API usage may incur additional Azure costs. Beyond 250TB, storage costs $0.010/GB per month. Storage above 5 PetaBytes is custom pricing. The data retrieval charge is $0.03/GB after the first 5TB.

The data retrieval cost remains static but other regions have slightly higher base and storage used costs. For example

  • Central US – $3,000 base cost, $0.012/GB/Month
  • UK South – $3,112.5 base cost, $0.012/GB/Month
  • Australia East US – $3,250 base cost, $0.013/GB/Month

Customers are able to get a throughput of 2GB per second. This can be expanded for onboarding or if a customer wants a higher throughput for a custom price. Qumulo can widen this to 100Gb per second, according to Farris. It is also assumed that data is retained for 120 days minimum.

How does ANQ Cloud pricing work?

Enterprise Times asked Farris to clarify whether retrieval includes search as operators decide what they need to retrieve.

Farris replied, “It does. Anytime you retrieve a piece of data or read a piece of data, all file system operations and relevant in that search would be included. But you would not be charged for those transactional operations. It is a differentiator.

“So, one of the nearest competitors is actually one of the native services in Azure called Azure Files Cool. The data at rest price for Azure Files Cool is $13.65 per terabyte per month, plus the transactional fees that you would incur from those types of operations.

“If you’re continuously doing either list or read or retrieval operations, then this can blow up potentially out of proportion, depending on how many calls you’re making and what those file system operations are like. It’s a pretty common complaint in cloud computing, that transactional fees blow up, and then you get your your bill. And it isn’t easy to forecast.

“One of our pricing tenets, on the product front, is to make it easily forecastable and as simple to understand as possible. We don’t charge for API transactional operations. We only charge for data at rest and give you up to five terabytes of free reads per month until we start charging you this rate.”

Nexus will initially provide visibility

Farris first explained the visibility that Qumulo Nexus provides.

“Nexus is the single pane of glass, the visualisation pane, from which the storage administrator can see what is happening across all of their footprints. It doesn’t matter if you have a Qumulo instance on-prem or if it’s in the cloud. This is the place through which you would see all connections coming into a given Qumulo, through what protocol and how much data they’ve used in the last 24 hours and the like.”

In future releases, Farris intimated that Nexus may do more, adding, “Eventually, Nexus will become more like a control plane and administrative plane. Where anything you can do within the command line interface or through the API, you can do administratively through this through this pane as well. Right now, it’s primarily a visualisation pane.”

What about bill shock

While the 5TB allows organisations to conduct searches and API lookups, even if on 10,000 files across several directories, what happens when someone exceeds the 5TB limit? Are they notified?

Farris replied, “There are a couple of features that are similar to that capability in Nexus that will land in the second half of this year. They’re split into two buckets. One is essentially cost visibility in general. Hypothetically, you have 20 petabytes of data that you’re managing in many regions, how much you’ve spent in the last 24 hours, similar to what other cloud platform providers do.

“Secondly, you’ll be able to set alarms around thresholds, not just at the five terabyte level, but any alarm for a threshold that you want to set per instance. Let’s say you have an Azure native Qumulo instance spun up in the US West that is not to exceed 250 terabytes of capacity spend. You can set that alarm so that your financial administrator is alerted that, that spend threshold is breached.”

Will Nexus show an analysis of hot and cold data in the future?

“Yes, absolutely. That is definitely a strategy for Nexus to essentially show the heat map of your data. We will accelerate those types of features during the advent of releasing the global namespace.

“It will allow customers to see the opportunity of moving more stuff. It makes it more economically viable to manage global footprints and shrink their on-prem warm storage. Hospitals ask us for that intel all the time. They want to shrink those hot data footprints because they’re more expensive.”

One target market is Healthcare

Qumulo has already seen its native Azure cloud file storage adopted by many companies. What are the use cases that it is going after?

“It’s horizontally applicable. Primarily, there are three particular use cases that we’re going to go after out of the gate. First is long-term attention for picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and PACS vendor-neutral archive.

“It’s primarily the vendor-neutral archive that we’re going for. We have a lot of healthcare customers on the premises today who want to move to the cloud. But they don’t want that application incompatibility of migrating and changing to an object. They want 100% file compatibility.”

One such customer is Dayton Children’s Hospital. JD Whitlock, its CIO, commented, “In paediatrics, we have to keep imaging files until the child turns 21. After a few years, it’s unlikely we will need to look at the image. But we have to keep it around for medical-legal purposes. Keeping this massive store of imaging data on secure, scalable, reliable, and cost-effective cloud storage is a perfect solution for us.”

Will Qumulo target Pure Storage customers?

Farris continued, “The second would be enterprise backup/DR/business continuity, and then the third is anti-ransomware, anti-malware. That daily golden copy that is immutable, that is cryptographically locked and accessible at any time.

“We see a pretty big opportunity for anti-ransomware as well. I know that Pure (Storage) does a lot of business with anti-ransomware solutions. The hook here is that your data is instantly retrievable, and you can pull a bunch of data from Pure File Storage down. That should be a core use case here as well.

“We have this mechanism in the cloud, where you can immutably lock a file so that nobody can tamper with it after the data is present in the cloud. We’re pretty excited about that as well. You can do that on a snapshot level, or in Q2, you’ll be able to do that on a file level.”

Where is Qumulo not pushing ANQ Cloud?

Enterprise Times asked Farris where Qumulo are less likely to pitch AQQ Cold.

He replied, “If customers are already using object and AWS Deep Glacier successfully, we’re not trying to take that business. We would never be able to take that business. It’s primarily on-prem cold data for CIOs, VPS, and CTOs that want to move more data to the cloud and create platforms in the cloud.

“Cold data is a big piece of that. One of the tag lines, and one of the things that we will make a lot of hay about, is that you don’t have to change your application at all to use this service. It’s compatible with applications that speak file, and you don’t have to worry about translation into the object layer.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Cheaper and potentially better than the Azure offerings, ANQ Cold is certainly worth a look for CIOs who need to retain their data for long periods. There are use cases across the legal and property sectors. With the ability to continue accessing the data with minimal retrieval, several use cases make ANQ Cold a very sensible offering.

With the platform complimenting the Azure architecture, with pricing and a roadmap that offers future improvement, this could be the saviour for many looking at ageing on-premises systems. As Qumulo expands its capabilities, can it attract even more customers both for itself and Azure?

Many complain about bill shocks that storage costs. But Qumulo seems to have found a methodology that appears to work for many. Once the notifications are in place, it will be even stronger.

Kiran Bhageshpur, CTO at Qumulo, commented, “With ANQ Cold, we offer enterprises a compelling solution to protect against ransomware. In combination with our cryptographically signed snapshots, customers can create a “daily golden” of their on-premises NAS data, Qumulo or legacy scale-out NAS storage.

“There is simply no other solution that is as affordable on an on-going basis while also allowing customers to recover to a known good state and resume operations as quickly as with ANQ Cold.” 


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