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Ctera Networks (www.ctera.com) has signed on with value-added distributor
Interwork Technologies (www.interwork.com) to launch a storage and data
protection offering to its more than 4,000 resellers. Called S-Sphere, the
all-in-one SMB solution for file sharing and offsite backup is delivered as
part of a security as a service (SaaS) suite that features products from five
vendors, including Ctera.

According to CEO Liran Eshel, this is an
ideal offering for the channel that is powerful, easy to use and requires no
up-front investment. Ctera has also put together some introductory offers for
new partners.

"We have a concept of cloud storage as a new way to deliver storage to
small businesses," he says. Ctera’s vision is to create a new class of
hybrid storage solutions that combine local storage with cloud services.
"It is easy to use the Ctera Portal to manage tens to tens of thousands of
subscribers and control all aspects of Cloud Attached Storage, including
provisioning, status monitoring and reporting," he says.

The initial response has been "overwhelming," says Interwork’s Tim
Laroque, director of business development and marketing." The Ottawa-based
distributor has 4,000 resellers across North America,
but the bulk of the interest has been coming from the United
States, he says.

More than 150 solution providers have begun to seriously look at these
solutions, and 30 to 40 companies are signing up monthly right now.  

Having worked in managed services for the last seven to eight years, what
amazes Laroque is the change in solution providers’ focus from either a
business model or technology perspective to a focus on sales and marketing.
"This year we’re confident that business partners have the organization in
place. It’s no longer a question about the business model."

Eshel says existing storage and backup solutions can be expensive, complicated
and unreliable, and at a time when everybody must do more with less, especially
SMBs, there is a large and growing market for an easy-to-use, affordable and
reliable solution. He referred to the Microsoft 2009 SMB Insight Report that
found that backup is SMB’s main IT pain/opportunity. In addition, the
convergence of three emerging markets—embedded NAS and online backup services,
both growing at 33 percent per year, coupled with next-generation broadband—makes
this the next big channel opportunity, he says.

Ctera offers an ideal solution for protecting business data that is reliable,
pay-as-you-use, remotely managed, automatic, no desktop software, fast, offsite
and local, and all-in-one, says Eshel. The combination of the Ctera CloudPlug
portal and C200 network-attached storage (NAS) appliance provides shared
storage, online backup and folder synchronization in a single device. This
helps simplify storage processes and increase efficiency, with users able to
access files and schedule backups from anywhere via a simple Web-based
interface. This eliminates the need for costly tape backup and offsite storage,
says Eshel. Plus, S-Sphere allows resellers to provide Ctera solutions through
their own branded, white-label portal.

To make it more attractive to the channel, Ctera has announced several launch
promotion bundles:

  • CloudPlus SOHO/Teleworker
    Bundle: $199 including first year of service, with File Server using
    external USB and eSATA drives; Local
    and Online Backup, with unlimited local, 10Gb online, with 30-day
    retention; Secure Remote Access; Monthly Report and usage statistics;
    Remote Management with software updates, and centralized control; and
    Support for installation and maintenance
  • C200 SB/Branch Office Bundle:
    $499 including first year of service, with File Server with RAID 0/1 with
    optional external USB drives; Local and
    Online Backup, with unlimited local, 10Gb online, with 30-day retention;
    Secure Remote Access; Monthly Report and usage statistics; Remote
    Management with software updates, and centralized control; and Support for
    installation and maintenance.

There are also Service Extension options: $110 per year for an additional
10Gb; $220 per year for an additional 25Gb; and $330 per year for an additional
50Gb.

Laroque thinks the bundle is doing well because "security always gets the
spotlight in a recession-type market." The changing threat landscape,
including the rise of social media, is another factor driving interest in this
offering.

He advises solution providers exploring the managed services space to give
serious consideration to security as an initial solution. "The lifeline of
moving into managed services is much shorter by moving into security."
Laroque says partners can offer to do a security audit as either a paid service
or as a "freebie," then discuss with the customer the advantages of
managed services from a cost and control perspective, "communicating that
security is a living procedure that needs to be reviewed and monitored on a
constant basis. That’s what’s driving the market."