Vision Launches Cloud Initiative for RaaS
February 19, 2013 Alex Woodie
Vision Solutions last week unveiled new software and licensing models that should make it easier for public cloud providers to offer Vision’s disaster recovery and high availability solutions to Power and X86 customers. For Power customers, a key element of Vision’s new cloud strategy is metered billing for MIMIX, which Vision says will streamline licensing and billing in a cloud environment, to provide recovery as a service (RaaS).
Vision is no cloud newbie. In fact, its software has been running for at least a decade in the data centers of managed service providers (MSPs) to provide failover protection for their customers’ critical AS/400, iSeries, and Power Systems applications. Several prominent providers of public IBM i clouds, such as Connectria Hosting, offer Vision’s HA software to cloud customers.
While Vision understood that its partners were using the HA and DR software, the company didn’t do a whole lot to actively encourage the practice. After all, the profit margins are higher when you’re selling perpetual software licenses to customers who run HA and DR software on their own boxes. While it didn’t stand in the way of cloud adoption, it didn’t change its business model to accommodate it, either.
Vision’s hesitance about the cloud model has dissolved and now the company is fully embracing the cloud. “We believe that the cloud is the future,” says Doug Piper, Vision’s vice president of product strategy. “We believe HA/DR solution providers that don’t have a cloud offering won’t be able to compete.”
Cloud-based HA and DR is growing quickly, and Vision wants a piece of the market. According to Gartner, worldwide spending on RaaS is slated to grow to $1.2 billion by 2017, up from $466 million last year, which corresponds to a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent.
The company has two cloud strategies, one for the open systems DoubleTake products, and one for its IBM i offerings. Both involve making it easier for cloud MSPs to run Vision’s software.
Vision’s DoubleTake cloud strategy is richer and more complete than its IBM i cloud strategy, owing to the greater sophistication of open systems hypervisors–VMware, Citrix Systems‘ XenServer, and Microsoft‘s HyperV–than IBM‘s PowerVM, which still lacks some capabilities that are found in X86 hypervisors.
The company announced new DoubleTake offerings that piggyback on Citrix’s Cloud Management Platform, which it obtained with its Cloud.com acquisition. Citrix’s software enables MSPs to automate the licensing, invoicing, and billing aspects of running software in a cloud and offering it as a service. The company also announced an SDK to enable MSPs to integrate DoubleTake into their infrastructures via Vision’s APIs.
Since there is no all-powerful cloud management system like Citrix Cloud Management Platform for IBM i, Vision is taking another approach to enabling cloud on this platform. To that end, it announced that it has enabled metered billing for MIMIX, which will make it easier for MSPs to manage the licensing, invoicing, and billing aspects, but not fully automate it to the extent that Citrix’s software does.
Metered billing for MSPs will make it easier for MSPs to offer MIMIX to customers, and represents an important shift in strategy for Vision, Piper says. “Historically, [the MSPs’ relationships with Vision] was based on an on-premise model and a perpetual license,” he says. “There’s a standard set of capabilities that you would expect if you were a business partner providing monthly, pay-as-you-go service to customers. They don’t want to be tied down to a perpetual license. They want … true elasticity.”
Vision has offered subscription-based licensing for some time, but the model hasn’t been widely adopted by customers. Piper says the new metered billing will work in conjunction with subscription-based licensing to give MSPs more flexibility in how they obtain HA and DR software from Vision, and in turn provide access to the software to customers.
Piper says the ideal scenario for MSP partners is to obtain the software in a pay-as-you-go manner, and not force them to make big upfront investments for a cloud business that’s just starting to grow. MSPs want to “buy just-in-time, as they need it need it,” Piper says. “This new offering is designed to deliver that kind of flexibility, and make that work seamlessly.”
Vision has a few other rabbits in its cloud hat, including new releases of MIMIX, codenamed “Viper” and “Carrera.” The Viper release, which is expected later this year, will introduce metered billing to the MIMIX vaulting solution, called RecoverNow.
Carrera is the next major version of the product, possibly version 8, tentatively scheduled for 2014. In Carrera, Vision hopes to be able to introduce an HA/DR layer that works with a holistic cloud management system, i.e. the Citrix Cloud. But this vision is dependent on IBM adding new capabilities to PowerVM before it can automate HA/DR to that extent, Piper says.
Vision maintains an R&D lab in Rochester, Minnesota, and it has historically had a very tight relationship with IBM i developers. It is also working closely with IBM on PureSystems, with the obvious goal of enabling HA/DR across all four protected OSes (IBM i, Windows, Linux, and Unix) running on a PureBox.
Interestingly, iTera Availability wont’ be getting the cloud treatment by Vision, at least not at this time. The company is putting all its cloud eggs into the MIMIX basket. That makes sense when you consider MIMIX is Vision’s enterprise HA offering today, so that’s where it’s going to build the necessary multi-tenant capabilities that MSPs demand.