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Most IT organizations are not particularly good at managing data or, for that matter, IT in general. Not only is there a lot of redundant data strewn all across the enterprise; a lot of data that isn’t particularly important winds up clogging up expensive primary storage systems.

Obviously, this creates an opportunity for solution providers that can manage secondary data in the cloud on behalf of their customers. The question that many solution providers wrestle with in that context is whether it’s better to go to market with branded cloud services that a vendor provides marketing support for or a set of cloud storage services that the solution provider markets under its own brand.

The latter approach has much to offer in that it leaves the solution providers firmly in control of that account, which makes delivering the service usually a lot more profitable for solution providers.  But the former approach also has a lot benefits in that it requires a lot less in the way of capital investments on the part of the solution providers, while also allowing the solution provider to leverage a vendor that typically has a lot more money to spend on marketing that service than they do.

It’s a little early to say which approach will ultimately win out in the channel, so vendors such as Quantum have decided to essentially bet on both models.  Quantum has unveiled a virtual instance of its backup and recovery software that can be deployed on top of commodity infrastructure. According to Quantum chief technology evangelist David Chapa, the DXi V1000 virtual appliance provides all the capabilities of traditional Quantum appliances. But because the Quantum software is now deployed on top of virtual machine software it can be deployed on any infrastructure.

Quantum later this year plans to deliver its own branded cloud storage service based on the DXi V1000. At the same time, the company also plans to make the DXi V1000 available via solution providers that will use the virtual appliance to power “white label” cloud services.

Quantum has already chosen to work first with Xerox to deliver such a service, which is using the DXi V1000 to power a new disaster recovery service that is being delivered as a cloud service.

Every cloud storage service provider is going to have to decide what approach is best for them. Many may decide to roll their own service from the ground up, leverage platforms such as the DXi V1000 or simply resell a service someone else built all together.

What’s is clear is that as the volume of data that needs to be managed continues to spiral out of control, the opportunities surrounding data storage have never been better for the channel. More often than not, solution providers wind up making money doing the things that the IT staff doesn’t really want to manage themselves. Increasingly, secondary storage is one of those things. To make matters even more interesting, many companies no longer want to make the capital investments needed to support massive amounts of secondary storage, instead preferring to rely more on cloud storage providers.

Of course, not all cloud storage providers are created equal. The solution provider that can affordably deliver the most customizable set of services is most likely going to carry the day. The challenge is finding the most profitable way to actually make that happen.