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Conventional wisdom holds that most of the data small and midsize businesses (SMBs) generate will wind up in the cloud. In reality, storing lots of data in the cloud has limitations from both cost and performance perspectives.

Looking for channel partners to help determine when and where on-premise and cloud storage makes sense, Exablox launched its first channel program around its scale-out OneBlox storage appliance through which solution providers can deliver managed storage services via the cloud. To help sell OneBlox appliances, Exablox has created a marketing development fund (MDF) that channel partners can tap into and is offering up to as much as 30 points of additional margin for partners that participate in the company’s deal-registration program.

Exablox developed the OneBlox appliance as an alternative to traditional RAID-based storage systems that allows IT organizations to deploy storage nodes incrementally. Up to six nodes can be combined to provide access to as much as 256TB of storage using any combination of solid-state drives or magnetic storage desired. Best of all from a solution provider’s perspective, the OneBlox appliances can be remotely managed via a cloud service provided by Exablox.

The Exablox channel program is a relatively modest effort initially targeted at recruiting fewer than 100 solution providers, which should be capable of selling a storage offering based on a unique scale-out architecture that eliminates the need to manage RAID, LUNs or volumes, Ezra Hookano, vice president of sales for Exablox, said. Instead, the Exablox applies a new storage management paradigm that not only dramatically reduces the cost of storage by allowing customers to make use of commercial storage devices, it also dramatically reduces the amount of time it takes to configure and manage a storage system.

In addition, Exablox appliances can now replicate data to another site to provide an inexpensive approach to backing up and archiving data at either another data center site or a hosting facility, Hookano said. That approach creates a much less expensive approach to protecting data than trying to use a public cloud service that charges monthly fees to store that data, he said.

“There’s no way most customers are going to want to store terabytes of data in a public cloud,” Hookano said. “It’s still way too expensive.”

Virtual Graffiti, a solution provider based in Irvine, Calif., opted to add Exablox to its line card of storage products because OneBlox is easy to deploy and manage, explained Dean Cohen, Virtual Graffiti storage sales manager. “A lot of our customers have Exablox up and running in five minutes,” he said.

Initially aimed at SMBs wrestling with terabytes of data to manage, Cohen said he expects the OneBlox architecture to be equally appealing to small and midsize enterprises looking to fundamentally change the economics of data storage.

The challenge for Exablox partners, of course, is going to be selling a fundamentally different storage architecture with which most customers are not going to be familiar.

“Today, everybody is dependent on RAID,” said Cohen. “OneBlox is a technical transition that will take time to evolve.”

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.