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One of the most tried-and-true ways of making money selling storage has been to sell a lot of management software on top of the core platform. The problem with that approach, of course, is that it can put the solution provider in the position of asking the customer to pay for the privilege of using the storage platform the customer just bought.

Looking to disrupt the fundamental economics of the storage industry, DataGravity unveiled its Discovery Series storage platform, which includes support for data governance, search and discovery tools alongside data protection tools.

Historically, most of these tools have been sold separately from the core storage system. But at a time when IT organizations are struggling to keep pace with the amount of data that needs to be stored and managed, asking customers to pay extra for storage management tools amounts to adding insult to the initial storage injury, DataGravity CEO Paula Long said.

By integrating these functions in the core Discover Series platform, Long said, DataGravity expects to be able to make a compelling total cost of ownership pitch to customers that also makes it a lot easier for those organizations to derive more business value from their storage investments.

The DataGravity Discover Series will only be sold through the channel. To that end, the company has created a DataGravity Partner Network that consists of three tiers of partners. The challenge facing DataGravity, of course, is that the vast majority of solution providers in the channel are already committed to one or more incumbent storage vendors.

Recognizing that reality, Long, who was a co-founder of EqualLogic before Dell bought the company, said that DataGravity is in the channel for the long haul. As IT organizations look to refresh their storage systems over the next couple of years, DataGravity will win its fair share of pilot program opportunities that will steadily turn into major opportunities to displace incumbent storage vendors, she said.

In the meantime, DataGravity will provide solution providers that specialize in storage with a true storage platform that can be easily differentiated from all the other storage platforms in the market, Long said.

The real question, of course, is to what degree end customers are looking for new approaches to storage. There have never been as many startup vendors as there are now in a storage category that the same six core vendors—EMC, NetApp, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and Dell—have long dominated.

From the perspective of the channel, there’s a lot to be said for stability. Then again, when a solution provider winds up selling the same thing as everybody else in the channel, it’s only a matter of time before margins begin to suffer.

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.