Zach Boewer is the VP of IT for Scale Venture Partners and advisor for "The Last Mile" program at San Quentin. He has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, participating and witnessing all the changes it has gone through.
Here are his thoughts on Reduxio, and how it exceeded his expectations.
Or read the interview transcription below:
1. What specific problem were you trying to address that initially led you to consider Reduxio as a viable alternative?
The initial problem I was trying to solve with storage that led me to Reduxio was really trying to compact our server room into very small space. Also, speed and feature set were important.
I looked at a number of different options and became aware of Reduxio through the VC IT group, which is the Bay Area group of venture capital IT directors, and got to know the guys at Reduxio. That’s where I really started to learn about TimeOS, the speed in which it can actually provide me the ability to do restores through metadata at one second for as long as I want to configure that, and that really wasn’t something that was available anywhere else at the same time.
"So I know I have the overall speed, redundancy, feature set that I need for no matter what project I’m working on."
It allowed me to have the space I needed and the expansion I might need down the road depending on what project I’m working on. So I know I have the overall speed, redundancy, feature set that I need for no matter what project I’m working on.
2. Who were the other vendors that were under consideration, and what was it about Reduxio that led you to ultimately choose us?
There were several vendors I looked at, including ScaleComputing, which I had a previous version of theirs and that is was what I was replacing. I looked at Nimble and also considered Nutanix on the high end of things.
When I really dove into feature sets, performance and cost, the ScaleComputing cluster didn’t really live up to what I was trying to accomplish. I was looking to compact my storage down to a compressed size, I was trying to reduce the entire server room down to a half rack and having a 4-node structure for storage didn’t really fit that.
Nutanix looks great as well but is very very expensive in comparison, when you start stacking them up and comparing size, speed and redundancy. And Nimble also is pretty nice but then again, you’re sort of looking at building out a system that scales a little differently.
You have to make decisions for performance vs disk space and storage, where the Reduxio appliance through its TimeOS and dedupe really does a lot of this work for me, so I’m always getting the best performance. You’re sure that your applications are running out of the solid state infrastructure that is built into it, and as things can be archived off, they’re moved off into the slower, more economical spinning disk.
"You have to make decisions for performance vs disk space and storage, where the Reduxio appliance through its TimeOS and dedupe really does a lot of this work for me, so I’m always getting the best performance."
3. How quickly were you able to get real value from the Reduxio system, in terms of getting it set up and operational?
Setting up the Reduxio appliance into my infrastructure went really really well, I did leverage some external help but I had some experience with EcoTS who implemented the Reduxio appliance with TLM.
I’ll say I sat in the room and assisted and watched this configuration go together in a matter of just a few hours. It was up and running and ready for me to do some initial testing. And over a couple days I ran some tests and was comfortable enough to start migrating my infrastructure directly from ScaleComputing which was KVM into VMWare which is running on top of the Reduxio appliance.
So, 0 to testing day 1, after I became comfortable with the platform I migrated and I was completely up and running on the Reduxio cluster within a week.
4. What has been your experience in working with the Reduxio team, both here in the US and Israel?
During the implementation there was a point when we did make a call, I think it was the multipath setup for the fiber channel implementation in VMWare specifically and we did place a support call.
The call was answered within a few rings and the experience was as good as you can expect. We had an answer very quickly, he clearly guided us to the correct settings and we implemented them, he stayed in line with us to ensure that we resolved the issue in hand and it did. Then he simply gave us his direct number and said if we had any other issue we could reach out directly.
My experience has been really really positive, I love it when you call for support and someone answers and then gives you the direct line back to them, so if you aren’t completely satisfied or you have another question to follow up on, they are there and that really means a lot.
5. Can you please comment on our team’s responsiveness to your needs whenever you have an issue with our system?
I found that reaching out to the support team or the team in general, whether that is sales all the way to support, I have always received a quick and thorough response above and beyond what my typical expectation would be. I deal with very different vendors at all levels and Reduxio is the shining example of what it should be.
"I deal with very different vendors at all levels and Reduxio is the shining example of what it should be."
6. What are the key capabilities or features that are more beneficial to you and why?
Some of the key capabilities on our Reduxio appliance that are most beneficial to me are one its inherent ability to leverage metadata to provide me one second restores back to a specific point in time. I think that is pretty powerful and it didn’t require a lot of setup on my side.
I would say that the UI has kind of snuck in there and took me by surprise, it is actually a pleasant place to spend some time and that’s not something you usually say about storage platform. You usually look into UI and think “I can’t wait to get out of here”, so that’s kind of nice for a change.
"The UI took me by surprise, it is actually a pleasant place to spend some time and that’s not something you usually say about storage platform."
The other is the sheer speed and the capability of this beast, the capability to do a hundred thousand sustained IOPs says a lot, but the hardware that is inside the case is very impressive and they’re using the best material possible and the best hard drives out there and that is how you get to those numbers.
7. You have been kind enough to refer us to your industry colleagues, this is a great word of confidence for Reduxio. What do you need to see in a vendor before you are willing to make this connection within your own personal network?
I introduced Reduxio to several of my colleagues and in fact Reduxio has presented to the Bay Area VC IT group a couple of times and at one of the larger events down in San Diego recently.
I look to introduce companies and bring new technologies to the table and present them to colleagues when I find a company that is doing something new, doing something innovative, building best-of-breed products, whether that is a startup or whether that is later in the game. But I also look for companies that have an exciting roadmap, something that I see them executing on either on the near term or down the road, that I think is really bringing the next level or bringing the next game in that area.
I think Reduxio did all those things, and I felt confident that I could stand behind this product and recommend it to colleagues.
8. You are an advisor of The "Last Mile”, an extraordinary program that was conceived to teach inmates how to develop software to improve their ability to make a living when they return to society. Can you talk a little bit about what The "Last Mile” is and what is it about it that got you so involved?
"The Last Mile” is a program that I’m involved with. Initially, we are deploying a stack of hardware in San Quentin, which will facilitate inmates to enroll in The Last Mile project.
It gives them the ability to do front end development projects initially and possibly expand to other things down the road. Several big names in the Silicon Valley have expressed interest in running live coding jobs through this program, the inmates themselves are going through an education program right now but they’ll also run real jobs.
This is a really exciting opportunity for everybody involved including myself. It will become the highest pay prison industry to date. This money is used for all kind of things, some of the money goes to restitution, some of the money is sent home to their families and some of the money they can use internally in San Quentin.
But really what this does is it gives these guys the ability to go out after they leave San Quentin and get real good paying jobs that can sustain a living and that will ensure that they don’t return and that is what we all want.
We want these guys to have a skill set that they can go out on the streets, pick up a job and support themselves in a new way. This will have a butterfly effect and affect their whole family, it will change the way their children think, and maybe instead of their children falling on their same footsteps they’ll go to school because they see what their dads and others are capable of now.
"it gives these guys the ability to go out after they leave San Quentin and get real good paying jobs that can sustain a living and that will ensure that they don’t return and that is what we all want."
9. Reduxio was honored to contribute our technology to the "Last Mile” program at San Quentin, of course with your encouragement. Why specifically is the Reduxio system valuable for this program?
With my knowledge of Reduxio and its capabilities, the speed, the inherent redundancy that are built into the system, ease of use, it became obvious that it would be great for us to have one of Reduxio’s appliances in Quentin’s rack.
It serves up many different things, operating system images to Macs that are there on site, it hosts virtual machines that have learning management system or course materials that the inmates will access.
When we were building it out initially we didn’t have a surge cluster available to us and that meant really architecting things in ways that weren’t highly available and that will mean that there is a potential that one day you may not have a class because something happened with one of your hosts.
With the Reduxio appliance in there we can be assured that there is no down time and no interruption to the learning, it also has the inherent speed and capabilities that could facilitate a type of program down the road.Maybe they are going to work in some sort of high speed database, who knows? Maybe a hedge fund wants them to help build a database that can facilitate high speed trading.
"WITH THE REDUXIO APPLIANCE IN THERE WE CAN BE ASSURED THAT THERE IS NO DOWN TIME AND NO INTERRUPTION TO THE LEARNING"
We just don’t know what job is going to come down the line but we do know that we have the hardware to support it.