Having only formally entered the channel in October – and already winning kudos for its channel program – storage vendor Dot Hill Systems is taking its first major step to provide solution providers with a differentiated product set that addresses a number of
vertical markets.

In fact, the
target market is huge and the company is looking to add partners, says Dave Zimmer, VP Channel Sales and Marketing. IDC puts the SMB networked storage market at over $11.9 billion, and the data protection and storage virtualization software market at more than $11 billion.

Launching on Wednesday, the AssuredSAN 3000 Series disk-to-disk data protection appliances feature a suite of disaster recovery applications, including the new AssuredRemote remote replication software. The company says it is making comprehensive disaster recovery affordable to SMBs by including volume copy, snapshot and remote replication as standard in the new line.

While the products will appeal to SMBs and small IT shops, Zimmer says the low-hanging fruit are
vertical markets, especially in media and
entertainment post production, telecommunications and video surveillance. “We’re looking to grow the channel, continuing to expand our reach.”

Established 26 years ago, Dot Hill has primarily sold direct to OEMs like HP, HDS, NetApp and Sun, and only “played” at the channel until recently. Its first formal channel program was launched in October after Zimmer was brought on board and put in place the pieces required for success in the channel.

Andy Mills, VP of marketing and business development, jokes that Dot Hill has done a pretty good job of operating under the radar, being known as “dot who?” The company sells primarily to 40 OEMs, focused on the entry-level SAN and RAID markets, he says, but it “is putting a very strong push into the channel market.”

With Sun accounting for as much as a quarter of its revenues, it was clear that changes were needed, agrees Mills. “The last couple of years, we were heavily dependent upon Sun and realized that wasn’t going to work.”

With Sun accounting for as much as a quarter of its revenues, it was clear that changes were needed, agrees Andy Mills, VP of marketing and business development. “The last couple of years, we were heavily dependent upon Sun and realized that wasn’t going to work.”

Last year total revenues were $234.4 million, down 14 percent from 2008. So the company embarked on a number of initiatives, including the channel and various acquisitions like Cloverleaf and RAIDCore. Mills says they’ve achieved a reasonable amount of channel business, but it’s still in single digits.

Zimmer was brought on board to drive the channel focus, and his
team has been recruiting partners. “We’ve really got all the fundamentals in place.” Currently Dot Hill has 100 registered partners in its three-tier program, with half in North America.

Another new area for Dot Hill is
professional services, which is a good opportunity for the channel, says Mills. “We want to make them our storage experts,” through training and off-the-shelf offerings. Services, good margin structures where partners can make money and differentiated products are essential, he adds.

The AssuredSAN 3000 Series storage systems are available in a wide variety of configurations including AssuredSAN “R” models with AssuredRemote, AssuredSnap and AssuredCopy; AssuredSAN “S” models with AssuredSnap and AssuredCopy; and AssuredSAN “C” base models with free 60-day trial access to  data protection software. Flagship configurations include: AssuredSAN 3930R Hybrid 8Gb Fibre Channel/iSCSI with 12 3.5-inch disk drives; AssuredSAN 3920R Hybrid 8Gb Fibre Channel/iSCSI with 24 2.5-inch disk drives; AssuredSAN 3730R 8Gb Fibre Channel with 12 3.5-inch disk drives; and, AssuredSAN 3720R 8Gb Fibre Channel with 24 2.5-inch disk drives.

AssuredRemote offloads backup operations from application servers, asynchronously copying and synchronizing data for up to 16 volumes simultaneously, directly between two AssuredSAN 3000R appliances via the local storage area network (SAN) or wide area networks (WANs).

Replication can operate via the Fibre Channel ports and/or the iSCSI ports in the case of the dual protocol AssuredSAN 3900 models, and fully supports high-availability failover using dual controllers. provides easy-to-use, remote office data protection and eliminates the need for third party, host-based software. And the combination of AssuredSnap snapshot, AssuredCopy volume copy, and AssuredRemote functionality, together in the AssuredSAN 3000 line, enables the channel to deliver a complete disaster recovery offering.

List prices are expected to start at $20,200 for a dual controller Fibre Channel system fully populated with 500GB SATA drives.

Mills sees the key differentiators including: bringing 8Gb FC
technology down to the entry-level market; the remote disaster recovery capability; and the ability to mix and match 8Gb FC and iSCSI so customers have flexibility in how they configure primary and secondary storage. He thinks the ability to do remote disaster recovery in as few as four clicks will be a winner with a lot of SMBs.

According to two of Dot Hill’s partners, the new offerings are also a winner with the channel.

“The arrival of the AssuredSAN 3000 Series gives us an incredible opportunity to bolster our
professional services offerings,” said Howie Evans, vice president of Dallas Digital Services. “By introducing affordable, turnkey data protection solutions into the SMB space, Dot Hill presents us with new opportunities to enhance this additional revenue stream.”

The addition of enhanced snapshot and AssuredRemote features to the new AssuredSAN 3000 Series helps to create a reliable disaster recovery solution at a competitive price point, states Paul Hickingbotham, solutions manager at Hammer plc. “The new 8Gb Fibre Channel connectivity and an option for multiprotocol Fibre Channel and iSCSI hosts within the same solution will also put this system at the forefront of the industry.”