Updated 15 March 2018 with new links

Last week, Caringo, an object storage startup, announced that the company would offer full licences of up to 100TB to qualified companies in the Media and Entertainment sector.  The assumption is, that once a company is hooked on the first 100TB and sees the simplicity of the solution, then they will come back for more.  (Note: at this point people use the “drug dealer” analogy, however I think we can find something more attractive; call it the freemium model done a different way).

I was interested to know how many other object storage vendors offer similar licensing deals, either as limited trials, restricted usage or limited capacity.  The answer is – quite a few.

  • Dell EMC – ECS appears to be free for download and install – the link here is from an EMC specific website, can’t find a Dell EMC one (link)
  • Caringo – 100TB for M&E businesses, but also a 10TB developer edition licence for Swarm – registration required (link).
  • Cloudian – 100TB free trial for 45 days; fully featured version – registration required (link).
  • Scality – Three hour free trial (registration required, link) – seems a little short, but Scality also offers Cloudserver, an open source release of RING for containers (formerly S3 Server) and Zenko.
  • OpenIO – It’s open source anyway, so you can download and go (link).
  • IBM Cloud Storage (formerly Cleversafe) – sorry folks, no advertised trial on the website, but perhaps if you spoke to IBM directly…
  • Amazon Web Services – no trial option, but cheap to try out, depending on how much data you want to create – just give them your credit card details.
  • DDN WOS – no trial option available, however again, they may provide something if you speak to them directly (although I have no proof of that).
  • Ceph – It’s open source so you can download and try; although the Red Hat Storage implementation is more robust – no obvious trial of the Red Hat version available.
  • NooBaa – Community edition for 20TB is available (link) – no real registration required, except email and a little bit of detail.
  • SwiftStack – test drive option available running on SwiftStack hardware – account creation required (link).
  • Zadara Storage – offers a free evaluation of their platform, which includes object storage. – (link)
  • Minio – this is already an open-source solutions, you can download today (link)

Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone off.  Obviously this list is more SDS orientated rather than focusing on vendors that sell appliances, so I haven’t included any hardware-only vendors.

There’s a quid pro quo here – provide some contact details, expect the marketing call and in return you can try the product out.  I’d guess that vendors offering trials on their own platform are looking to control the evalution process, not from a bad perspective, but to reduce the number of support calls that might get generated.  It’s nice to see developer editions and what would be even better is a forum for discussing feedback from testing these products.

The Architect’s View

Object storage is a tricky sell, because the premise is the customer has petabytes of data to store, otherwise the move to object isn’t worth it.  Picking the right vendor becomes a riskier prospect with more data to store.  Get it wrong and the operational overhead of moving elsewhere is high.  Try/buy for the object vendors seems like a no-brainer; if your product stands up to scrutiny, then potential customers will be back to buy.  The risk for the vendor is not that customers won’t buy, but the overhead on supporting potential prospects in that evaluation process.

Has anyone tried out the evaluation or developer versions?  If so, feel free to comment and share your experiences.

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Written by Chris Evans