Cloud Storage Rises in the Channel

By Michael Vizard
cloud storage

When it comes to cloud computing, storage holds significant opportunities. Organizations are generating data at rates that are simply unprecedented, which is why so many of them are looking to external service providers for help.

Conventional wisdom, however, holds that there’s no room for the channel in the cloud because fierce pricing competition requires that those services be sold at razor-thin margins. In reality, there’s not only plenty of room for the channel, cloud storage services can be immensely profitable.

Two examples of providers of cloud storage that are looking to sell high-margin services through the channel in competition with rivals, such as Amazon, are Artisan Infrastructure and Axcient.

Artisan Infrastructure is now offering an object-based cloud storage service that is only available wholesale through the channel. Part of the Artisan Infrastructure virtual Private Data Center (vPDC) platform, the new cloud storage is offered to channel partners at rates that are 70 percent less than what rival cloud service provider vendors, such as Amazon and Rackspace, charge customers for cloud storage services, Artisan Infrastructure CEO Brian Hierholzer said.

“We’re offering this service to the channel at 2.9 cents per gigabyte,” said Hierholzer. “And to make it even easier to sell, our service is compatible with the Amazon API.”

Axcient, meanwhile, recently unveiled a next-generation cloud storage platform based on a unified storage architecture that allows customers to store a petabyte of data per month for as low as $49 per server per month.

Sold primarily through the channel, the price at which the Axcient service is sold through the channel by 1,550 partners is substantially discounted, leaving plenty of margin room for the channel, said Axcient CEO Justin Moore.

“We’re at price points that are half or less of what Amazon offers,” Moore said. “Amazon is a general-purpose cloud platform. As a purpose-built platform, we can leverage our investments in software technology to be a lot more cost-efficient.”

As a unified storage platform, Moore said the Axcient service can not only handle backup and archiving applications; the storage architecture is designed to handle the random I/O requests of production applications. Based on servers from Hewlett-Packard, unified cloud architecture is designed to meet the requirements of almost any class of application workload, Moore said.

When it comes to cloud computing, storage is clearly the single biggest opportunity; it’s also the one most likely to become a commodity the fastest. As such, solution providers that need to deliver cloud storage services need to find platforms that allow them to compete—not only with much larger rivals, but to do so in a way that ensures there is enough profit to make the endeavor worthwhile.

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.

This article was originally published on 2013-10-10