The glacial sales cycle of HGST's cold storage Active Archive

It’s not too often you get to hear the exact progress of a new product in the market but this week at Cloud Expo Europe in Frankfurt, HGST senior business development manager for elastic storage products, Manfred Berger, revealed the company – drive maker turned system seller – had not closed a single sale on its Active Archive petabyte-scale array. (See update here).

Now, HGST is unruffled by that. Active Archive is a big investment. It marries Amplidata Himalaya object storage with HGST 8TB HelioSeal helium-filled SATA hard drives and crams in 42U worth of these for a total capacity of 4.7PB. It claims 15 nines reliability using erasure coding and access times of less than 100 milliseconds for 90% of the time.

So, I asked how many customers HGST had secured for Active Archive. “None”, said Berger, “but I have 160 prospects and one European order since [launch in] April.”

The sales cycle is longer than with hard drives and it takes at least six months from introduction to purchase order. It’s a very long sales cycle – with customers that want an Amazon, but in-house – with organisations that may be very interested but who have to wait until budget cycles make buying possible,” added Berger.

Given the budget cycles of likely customers – often university departments – it’s no surprise sales cycles are slow. The projects Active Archive aims at are far from trivial, being cases where organisations must build a cloud in-house for legal and compliance reasons and can’t entrust data to the public cloud, such as in genome research or where universities want to build Dropbox-type services for PhD papers, theses etc.

* In other news HGST has entered a partnership that will see it sell Point Storage Manager, a software tool that monitors existing NAS assets and identifies “lazy files”, ie ones that have not been used for some time and can transfer them to cloud storage or Active Archive. It then leaves a stub on the NAS filer that pulls the full file from Active Archive, the cloud etc when it is accessed.

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